Last week, I explained a type of endurance that is crucial to a skater’s performance: muscular endurance.  This allows a figure skater to be able to continue at a moderate to intense level of activity for 2, 3, or 4 minutes, interspersed by several bouts of explosive movements, such as jumps, spins, or lifts.

You may wish to consider adding some sort of off-ice training regimen to your regular weekly exercise schedule.  This week, I’ll share some ways you can improve your endurance for your program.

Advance preparation for working on muscular endurance

Once you have achieved a good level of strength in your muscles from your regular weekly exercise, it can be converted into explosive power through various methods of power training.  Power endurance training can be used to train the fast twitch muscle fibers to resist fatigue, allowing explosive power to be maintained for longer..   If you are not familiar with muscle physiology, I highly recommend the clicking on the following link for more details.

Always do a little light activity, such as easy walking, before and after your endurance activities to warm up and cool down your muscles.

How is muscular endurance improved?

In the gym, power endurance training uses moderate loads of lifting (50-70% of the maximum you can possibly lift once) for a set of 15 to 30 repetitions.  Because this can lead to a significant build-up of lactic acid, rest periods between sets are long (5-7 minutes) and a minimum number of sport-specific exercises are used (about 3-4).   Sport specific exercises are those which mimic the movements you need for your specific sport,   If your push-off in skating is with your toes pointing to the side, the trainer probably won’t have the figure skater doing squats with her toes facing forward.  Exercises are also completed in a circuit training format (i.e. one set of one exercise is completed, and then one set of the next exercise and so on).  Alternating exercises allows maximum recovery and sufficient time for lactic acid to disperse.

This is a critical rule to follow.  If rest intervals are too short and sets are completed while you are still fatigued, the result will be an increase in muscle mass, rather than power endurance.  Sets should not be completed until you can no longer do it, but should end when repetitions are no longer powerful and rhythmic.

I have found that just going for a run doesn’t really help my on-ice endurance all that much, mainly because it’s a prolonged repetitive motion that uses muscle groups in a different way.  On the other hand, adding sprints in the middle of your run may add muscular endurance for your jumping muscles.  Running also gets you out in the fresh air from time to time.   

Swimming can be helpful, depending on how you structure your training session.  Several years ago I when was training for triathlon,  my swimming coach made us do three-minute swims with 15-30 second rest breaks between each.  We were required to go a little further each time; even a few meters was acceptable, as long as you went further each time – the swimming equivalent of back to back run-throughs!!  Maybe it was a coincidence, but I noticed an improvement in my on-ice endurance the following week.

What activities have you seen make an improvement in your on-ice endurance?  Check out the off-ice training techniques that the guys in this week’s video employ!  Do you think their exercises are sport specific to figure skating?

Monster-Huge Disclaimer:  I take no responsibility for any consequences (good or bad) that may ensue should you decide to add “jumping off of buildings” or similar activities to your training program.

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