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This week's column:

Should I Add Weight Training to My Routine?

Nov. 28, 2012




QHi, Bill: I've been speed skating outdoors three days a week for four years (on Bont Z 110s). My skate routine is typically a 14-mile greenway run that I do at 16+ mph. Recently I added the following 1-hour weight lifting routine for my off days, twice a week:

  • 3 sets seated calves (legs bent)
  • 3 sets seated calves (legs extended)
  • 3 sets of leg presses
  • 3 sets of leg extensions
  • 3 sets of hip abductions (seated with legs bent and together: press out with knees)
  • 3 sets of hip adductions (seated with legs bent and apart: pulling in with knees)
  • 9 sets of abdominals (3 different exercises)
  • 3 sets of bicep curls (for vanity)

What is your advice on weight lifting for skaters? Am i giving my muscles enough time to recover? What modifications to my routine would you recommend? - Cheers, Brent, Johns Creek, GA.

Ask the Coach!

Hi, Brent: If you want to build up your speed, weight training can help develop some of the strength and explosive power you need. But weights won’t help much unless you do them in conjunction with plyometric exercises that approximate the movements of skating.

Your routine sounds good for developing overall conditioning. But you might want to add what they call the “clean” lift, in which you lift weights from the ground to the level of the chest.

A top weight trainer told me that cleans are the best lift for speed skaters.

Another thing you should do is build your core. You can’t do enough of this. The top female Colombian and Australian skaters used to religiously do one thousand abdominal exercises a week. And many them went on to become champions.

Two sessions of weight training a week is not to much, as long as you space them apart by a couple of days. I used to train three women who got up early and did weight training three mornings a week on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Starting at 7 a.m., they were finished by 8:30, which gave them plenty of time to recover for interval training in the evening.

At the same time, I had a male skater on the same program. But he couldn’t get up in time to finish his weight training before 10:30 a.m. and, as a result, was still tired when it was time for interval training in the evening.

I am not sure what your skating goals are. But if you want to build speed, you will have to do at least one session a week of interval training (200 or 500 meters) or ladders drills.

I would also recommend that you add more variety to your training. One day a week, you could do interval training. Another day, you could do your usual 14-mile greenway skate but devote part of it to a minute-minute breakaway drill.

As the name implies, in this drill you go hard for one minute, easy (cruising speed) for one minute, and keep rotating.

Before you start the drill, skate easy for a few kilometers to warm up.

Do the drill for 20 minutes for starters and build up to at least 30 minutes.

The real tough guys, like Shane Dobbin and Jorge Botero, used to do the minute-minute drill for 45 minutes to an hour. It helped turn them into top breakaway experts in the World Inline Cup.

Cheers, Bill

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