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World renowned speed coach Bill Begg shares his vast knowledge of skating every week in his "Ask Bill Begg!" column on the Inline Planet.

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Oct. 13, 2010

How Should I Stay in Shape During the Off-season?

QHi, Bill. With the outdoor racing season over, I'm wondering what to do with myself. I need a break from skating, but I don't want to give up all the gains I made this year in terms of technique, strength and conditioning. - Dennis in California

Hi, Dennis: The key to maintaining your hard-earned conditioning is not to quit exercising all together. As you may know, physical conditioning starts to decline after ten days without training. After three months, it’s all gone.

There are lots of ways to stay in shape while you take a break from skating. One of the best is cycling, especially bike racing, which keeps both your body and mind in shape.

Lots of the top skaters in Australia and New Zealand cycle during the offseason. My daughter Nicole competes in an 18 km Waimate Handicap on Mondays, a 20 km graded scratch race on Wednesdays (after a 100 km mid-day ride); an 18 or 24 km handicap race on Thursdays, and a 40-60 km handicap race on Saturdays. The races aren’t long. But competing with men in grade-A events keeps her in great shape.

Another off-skate option is combining plyometrics and weight training. Remember that weight training is useless without the addition of plyometrics. Plyometrics convert raw strength to speed-strength, which is what you need for skating.

If you do weights and plyometrics, combine them with some kind of conditioning routine — calisthenics, running, treadmill — to keep your body strong and flexible.

And don’t neglect your abdominal and back muscles. There’s no use having super-muscled "frog legs" if your back can’t support them.

If you want to become a stronger skater, do low walks. [Pat Creveling's tip on how to do low walks] They can help you build power and toughness. Monster skaters like Jorge Botero, Stephen Whyte, Julian Fernandez and Orlando Yepes were all low walkers who built up to a point where they could low walk for 20 minutes at a stretch.

On the other hand, if you have any niggling injuries, confine yourself to a stationary bike or swimming pool until you are fully recovered and ready for the hard stuff.

Hope you have a great off-season!

Cheers, Bill

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