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Inline secrets from the world's top skaters and coaches

This week's tip:

How to Drop Those Unwanted Pounds

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By Knowl Johnson

Standing on a scale

You'll go faster if you watch your weight.

Photo: Bill Branson, NCI

Extra mass in the form of surplus body fat hurts performance in multiple ways.

It’s extra baggage for your muscles to drag around. It impairs your ability to maintain efficient skating technique (sitting low and pushing long). It makes it harder to prevent over-heating.

And finally, while it aids performance minimally as a fuel source, it demands its own fuel and oxygen supply — oxygen that could be going to your muscles instead.

So, whether you’re targeting a podium finish or you just want to give that pesky cyclist a run for his money, achieving a leaner body can help push you towards your personal version of athletic glory.

Three Ways to Get Leaner

1. Long, slow distance training at a steady, manageable tempo is a great way to burn body fat. Essentially, the longer you skate, the more fat you burn.

You know the drill. Skate hard enough to sweat, but not so hard that you struggle to breathe and your legs burst into flames. While as little as 20 minutes has some fat burning effect, shoot for an hour or more to maximize fat loss. This type of training is essential for building and maintaining a solid cardiovascular base.

2. High intensity interval training burns lots of calories quick, so it's also a great way to drop weight. Besides, it's essential for improving athletic performance.

For help designing your interval training, read these Planet tips: "Interval Training for Inline Skaters," "A Guide to Interval Training," "Building Speed with Interval Training," "Beginners Guide to Race Dynamics and Interval Training."

3. Create a caloric deficit.  This one is pretty simple. To drop pounds, consume fewer calories than your body requires to maintain its current weight.

Of course, that's easier said than done. The trick is to lose the fat, not the performance. To do this, focus on the "when" of your nutrition:

  • Schedule the majority of your daily caloric intake around your training and don’t be afraid of carbs — they are an endurance athlete's best friend.
  • Eat a decent portion of quality carbohydrates, (think oatmeal, not donuts) before training. Exercising on an empty stomach is for supermodels, not athletes.
  • Eat enough while skating to maintain your effort. Simple carbs, like energy gels, are a good choice. But cut the simple sugars when you're not training.
  • After a workout, eat a meal with complex carbs and some protein to support your recovery. Do this within the hour. A turkey sandwich on whole grain bread with an apple or an orange would be a good choice.
  • Eat less the rest of the day. And eat less on rest days, light training days and before going to bed.
  • Also, whatever your weight loss goal, lose the pounds slowly, (1-2 pounds a week). This will allow you to maintain lean muscle as well as the performance gains that come from training and racing.

For some excellent information on finding your ideal racing weight and good nutrition for endurance athletes, I highly recommend the book, “Racing Weight” by Matt Fitzgerald.

Final Motivation: The Weight Vest Experiment

Still not sure that taking off some excess body fat will improve performance? Try this:

Put on a weight vest or load a backpack with the equivalent amount in pounds you would like to shed. Then go skate.

As you’re rolling along, imagine how much easier it would be without those extra pounds.

The next time you skate — now without the weight vest — imagine how much faster and more efficient you will be when you reach your target weight.

Remember. The sweet taste of victory will linger far longer than any item on the dessert menu.

(July 30, 2010)


Knowl JohnsonKnowl Johnson is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist and sports coach in New York City. His first inline skate race was a 10K in NYC’s Central Park in 1990. He races in the pro masters division for the Empire Speed team. (photo by Mohamed Ariba)

Knowl's page on the Skater Network




Related reading:

Skate Tip of the Week Archive
Beginners Guide to Outdoor Racing
Beginners Guide to Inline Skating




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