Whether you compete in a serious ice hockey league, or leisurely lap an ice rink now and then, ice-skating engages your body like no other sport. Skating requires enormous strength, endurance and flexibility. Here are some suggestions to adapt your training routine to improve your skating form—and keep you safe, strong and fast on the ice this year.
Warm up in all planes of motion: Warm up by moving through all planes of motion: sagittal, frontal and transverse. Your warm up routine should include variations of walking, skipping, lunging, bending and twisting movements for 10-15 minutes before exercise. Performing a variety of multi-plane movements consistently also improves coordination, balance and flexibility.
Add low positional strength exercises to your routine: The combination of low-positional exercises and leg strengthening exercises will help you become a faster skater. These drills are speed skater postures and skating technique poses that utilize all the muscles of the lower body.
- 3-point skater touch This exercise is a ‘reach and touch’ movement involving the quads, toe and glutes.
- Val-Slide AB–ADDuction skater mimics the skating stride by reaching the leg out laterally and then returning it to the starting position only to move right into a cross behind movement.
- Low walks similar to lunges both forward and backward, but you stay low throughout the exercise.
- Crossover walk moving laterally and crossing over our steps, staying low the entire time.
Choose ground-based, unilateral movement: In skating, the more force an athlete can apply against the ice with the edge of the blade, the faster they will accelerate. Also, skating is a particularly unilateral sport – you need to push explosively off one leg and then the other. Your exercises should be ground-based (not seated or lying down) and unilateral. Focus on single-leg squats, lunges, step-ups performed in all 3 planes of motion, and single-leg deadlifts. Plyometrics (different jumping movements) are excellent for skating training and are very effective for building leg strength.
Train on unstable surfaces that focus on your core: A 3 millimeter wide skate blade is certainly an unstable surface! Unstable surface training can be useful for skating skills — it requires increased levels of joint stabilization and neuromuscular efficiency. Since skating happens on one leg at a time, core stabilization is critical for effective movement. Rotation is another important movement in skating that requires excellent core strength. A Swiss Ball can help engage core musculature and can increase the effectiveness of many exercises
Focus on movements, not muscles: Muscles do not work in isolation–incorporate multi-joint, not single-joint exercises in workouts. For example, choose squats over leg extensions and leg curls. Choose exercises that move the body the way it is used on the ice — especially if you’re training for ice hockey (diagonal lunges and explosive side passes).
Incorporate interval training: Interval training refers to performing a high intensity exercise, followed by a lower intensity exercise and repeating the high/low intervals several times. Interval training is effective for building overall athletic endurance and will help you increase skating strength.