Strength Training for Figure Skaters
Is lifting weights actually bad for figure skaters?
We have all heard the statement “lifting weights will make you bulky”, or have heard that strength training can hinder one’s progress as a figure skater. Are these statements really true? Maybe for 1% of the population [also including many other factors] but I wanted to take a moment to review this in a bit more detail to bust some of the misconceptions that are floating around.
Sport specific training is essential – I am a total believer that you need to tailor your program to your sport to be as efficient as you can as an athlete. There’s controversy when it comes to certain types of off ice training such as strength training. Strength training with proper form and in a strategic way (through periodization) can improve your foundation for skating immensely.
Skating requires powerful legs, strong hips, and a stable core to allow efficient transfer of force from the body to the ice. In order to achieve this, you must incorporate strength training into your off ice program. A properly designed strength training program can potentially improve the rate of force development (aka explosive strength) for figure skaters. Squats, hip thrusts and dead lifts are excellent compound exercises to include in your off ice workouts. Compound exercises target multiple muscles at once, making it efficient and improves intramuscular coordination.
Strength training exercises can be kept very simple with minor variations to keep things interesting – like tempo or rep variations. Isolation exercises are also great if you have a specific muscle group that you would like to work, like performing leg extensions to target your quads.
You have probably heard that performing to many exercises like this can hinder your progress in skating or make you too “bulky”. If you are an elite level skater going to the Olympics, maybe that is true, but for your typical adult skater, this is completely false.
One of the main reasons why it is so important to incorporate strength training into your off ice program is to reduce the risk of injury. As an adult skater who has dealt with injury, I can attest to the fact that injuries STINK and nothing is worse than being on the sidelines when you’d rather be training on the ice. If you’ve injured yourself before, I am sure you would agree. It’s extremely important that we build strong, stable foundations so we can reduce our risk of injury and enjoy the sport that we love for years to come. Ever since I got back in the gym, my skating has improved by leaps and bounds, it’s safer, and when I am on the ice, I feel STRONG.
Strength training is just one of many forms of off ice training that you should incorporate into your program. Other forms of exercise that are great for figure skaters are HIIT, plyometrics, steady state cardio, off ice jumps, etc. Do what works for you and what makes you feel strong on the ice.