Single Leg Exercises
How do single leg exercises enhance your skating skills?
If you follow me on Instagram or Facebook, you may have seen my infographic on my top 10 favorite single leg exercises. They look great on paper, but how do they impact your skating?
Single leg exercises are a type of unilateral exercise, and they are beneficial for many reasons.
MUSCLE BALANCE –
The primary benefit is your muscles will be activated equally – meaning that your stronger side won’t be able to compensate for your weaker side. This helps with isolating and correcting muscle imbalances. Muscle imbalances can easily occur in figure skaters due to the nature of the sport – we take off with one leg and land on another, both involving different types of muscle action. Also, has anyone ever noticed how you warm up going only in one direction around the rink? If you are like me, you are probably doing many more right crossovers compared to left crossovers, so your right side is going to end up being stronger than the left. It is important that our bodies are as balanced as possible to reduce injury and allow you to perform at your maximum potential.
IMPROVED STABILITY –
Another benefit of unilateral exercises is stability. In skating, this is huge. Obviously, our goal is to stay vertical, avoid falls, and look graceful while gliding on a few millimeters of steel. When performing single leg exercises, you are essentially reducing 50% of your stabilizing platform (your feet) which will force your body engage the core more and your body will work other small muscles that you don’t usually activate when performing bilateral (2 leg) exercises. Core strength is essential for figure skaters since we must be in total control of our bodies when on the ice.
INCREASED STRENGTH –
By performing unilateral exercises, you will actually improve your strength with your normal bilateral lifts as well. This is because when performing single leg work, you are engaging more muscles compared to when you perform the traditional lift due to stabilizing your body and maintaining your balance. Sounds like a win win!
METABOLIC BENEFIT –
Lastly, there’s a metabolic benefit because it will take about twice as long to complete your workout, since you are working each leg/side separately. Longer workout = more calorie burn.
So how often should you do these?
It’s important that you incorporate single leg exercises into your off ice strength training program by either adding an exercise or two to your usual routine, or change your program to a specific focus on single leg work every 4-6 weeks. This will ensure you have proper muscle balance and stability.
Also, be sure to start with your weaker side first, and then perform the same number of reps on the other side.
Give these a shot and let me know what you think!