By Westy Bell
Charles Atlas pulls giant Rollerblade (circa: 1952)
Some skaters would rather get their teeth drilled than lift weights. But more and more of us are finding that weightlifting can pump up our skating.
Some skaters perform a full range of lifts to build their leg, back and arm muscles. Others pick and choose. I, for instance, find that leg lifts cause my muscles to lock up while skating. So I skip those.
Making It Relevant
The trick to weight training is to make it relevant to your sport. Think of it not as a way to build muscles but as a way to strengthen muscle movements. Then design a weight program that mimics the way you move when you skate.
To see how this works, let's start with the squat, one of the best all-around exercises for building leg muscles. In optimal stride position, skaters sit low, bending their knees to form an angle of 90 to 135 degrees. So that's what we want to mimic with our squats.
How to do a half squat:
The full squat - Skaters do better with the half squat.
Standing up, bend yours knees, slowly lowering your weight until your thighs are parallel to the floor (knees at a 90-degree angle). Pause for about two seconds. Then rise a little until your knees and calves form an angle of about 135 degrees.
Do 6 to 16 repetitions. (And if you like, another set or two.) Do this two or three times a week.
Raising the Bar
Squats can be done with or without weights. Start without them, then add them when you're ready to, uh ... raise the bar.
You can add weight by placing an Olympic barbell across your back or by dangling a dumbbell from each hand. You can also use squat machines at your local gym. Any method is good and variety is even better.
Another effective way to do squats is with a dumbbell and an exercise ball. You place the exercise ball against a wall and lean your lower back into it, keeping it pressed against the wall as you move your body up and down. The ball keeps you in proper skating position.
That's it for squats.
Here's my tip on lunges for skaters.
Westy Bell is an ACE certified personal trainer, speed skater, weightlifter and mom. A native of central Pennsylvania and former Air Force meteorologist, she came late to skating, starting at age 27. But she learned fast and became a national champion in 2002 when she and teammate Jane Carey won the classic (over 30) two woman relay at Indoor Nationals. A resident of Asheville, NC, she skates with the Rolling Warriors and is preparing for her first bodybuilding competition, June 9, in Savannah, GA. (Originally posted: May 25, 2007)