Are you looking to improve your ice skating results but have limited time on the ice? Figure skating off-ice training is as important as on-ice practice. Below I have explained the 6 main types of workout you should focus on. Plus, I include the types of exercises to consider and equipment that can help you.
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Plan your figure skating off-ice training routine
Why Work Out Off-Ice?
Figure skating is a sport. It is a beautiful sport but a demanding one.
- Do you want to improve your skills and reach new levels - jumps, spins, attitudes?
- Do you want to learn more difficult skills?
- Do you want to be consistent with your results?
Well it takes a lot of practice on the ice for the technical aspects.
But it also takes off-ice practice to build your mind and body to be able to reach your goals.
For example, the muscles in the lower back and abdominals come into play during a jump. They contract for resisting the jump’s rotational force. If your body’s core is strong, your position will be more stable, and your jumps will improve.
What to work on off-ice to improve your figure skating?
Below is a summary of all the elements to add to your off-ice training routine - you can learn more about each one with examples of exercises and equipment to help in the rest of the article below.
- Grace and artistry
- Mental strength
- And don't forget to rest!
How often to train off-ice?
Every skater has different skill levels, goals and schedules. The requisites and routines for training are in alignment with them. To illustrate, a recreational skater would be satisfied with a once-a-week class. Someone training for competitions would practice five days a week. Therefore, only you can decide your practice and progress. The idea is to improve flexibility, strength and consistency of balance on the ice.
Define your figure skating off-ice training routine
- Your training plan should be in alignment with practicing for a goal - therefore it should vary with the seasons
- Your training program should take you towards progress.
- It must take into account your time on the ice
- Choose your training schedule with a healthy vision - do not do things in excess and plan time to rest
- Make sure to plan variety in your exercises to not overtrain one muscle
- A health professional can give appropriate advice regarding techniques related to specific exercises. Consult one. In fact, if your trainer possesses a health-related degree, you would benefit. If this degree connects to physical therapy, it is even more advantageous. By working with a qualified specialist, you avoid injuries and receive tremendous benefits.
Start by listing your goals, and how much training you will do in each category (how often, for how long and how intense) - this can vary every 4 weeks depending on your ice skating activity.
And then you can create a weekly schedule around your ice skating practices and off ice training.
If you are looking for a nice template for you weekly plan, check out my planner:
Or you can record you training and progress for the season:
Improve BALANCE for edge work, jumps, spins... - ice skating off-ice training
Why work on balance and core strength?
Figure skating is all about balance on the ice when sliding on the edge of a thin blade and in the air when jumping or being lifted.
Working on Core strength is essential to increase balance. The muscles in the back and abdomen hold your core strength. They are the control centers of your body.
- Aid in maintaining stability and balance.
- Help you rotate well. This means that you will be able to handle the center of spin rotation well. Maintaining a tight air position when jumping will prove easy.
- Help to have good control over your upper body. Therefore, crossovers, footwork and stroking will be child’s play for you.
Over time, your figure skating skills will include double jumps and more.
Top 6 classic exercises to increase your core strength - without equipment
Typical exercises using your body weight
- The plank - rest your forearms on the floor
- Crunches and reverse crunches
- Bird dog movement
- Mountain climber
Equipment to help work on core strength
The Half ball balance trainer will allow you to add diversity to your core strength exercises and add a balance element to it.
With it you can do push-ups, squats, crunches, lunges, planks...
Get it the Half ball balance trainer
Find more on my article about the top 10 off-ice training equipment. And they can be great gifts for figure skaters at Christmas or Birthdays! (see more ideas in my gift guide)
Other activities that help with core strength
- Trampoline - get a practice one for home
Improve FLEXIBILITY for attitudes - figure skating exercises off-ice
Why work on flexibility?
If you desire significant flexibility, you need to possess specific muscle lengths. These muscles are in the hips, knees and ankles. When these muscles stretch at the correct angles, your take-off and landing are always perfect! Spread eagles, spirals, split jumps, Biellmans, camel spins, etc, will prove easier!
Note that the concerned joint must be in a perfect position. Its motion must appear controlled too. This will happen only when the muscle length is exact. Muscle flexibility transfers to angular flexibility of the joints. Then, position and motion will be smooth and balanced. The evidence is there in the figure skater’s marvelous footwork, basic strokes, spins and crossovers.
Furthermore, flexibility prevents muscle injuries.
The following exercises are for off-ice training. However, it is also essential to do dynamic stretches before ice skating practice and static stretches after. Learn more.
Top 6 classic exercises to increase flexibility (for non-flexible people)
- Seated toe-touch stretches
- Cobra stretches
- Standing toe touch stretches
- Hip Flexor stretches
- Butterfly stretches
- Half splits and splits
Equipment to help work on flexibility
To increase the intensity of your stretches, you can find equipment at reasonable prices that are easy to use at home such as stretching bands and leg stretchers that attach to a door or ceiling.
And to help with gently stretching the back (for example for the Biellmann) you can use a yoga wheel.
Other activities to help with flexibility
- Mountain climbing
- Martial arts
Improve EXPLOSIVENESS for your off-ice jump training
Why work on explosiveness?
Your muscles must be strong, sure. But they must be able to be explosive, which is a little different. This is essential for your jumps.
Your muscle fibers must be able to contract and relax very fast and repeatedly.
Top 7 classic exercises to increase Explosiveness
- Long jumps
- Jumps over benches
- Stairs runs
- Interval sprints
- Sprints on slopes
- Plyometric jumps - consisting of jumping on and off a box with various heights
Equipment to help work on explosiveness
The jump box or the sliding board.
Improve ENDURANCE to complete ice skating routines easily
Why work on stamina?
This is a requirement for all sports.
It does not matter whether you are participating in a short or long program. All the movements and skills bring on fatigue and difficult breathing. Therefore, to ensure you can complete your program more easily, you must build up your endurance.
How to improve your stamina?
You will improve your stamina by improving your heart rate. You must also be able to control your breathing for long periods.
Typical activities to improve your stamina are:
- Moderate activity – walking up hill, rope jumping, social dancing, cycling on a flat terrain, canoeing on a lake, rowing, leisure roller skating, etc.
- Vigorous activity – jogging, hiking, cycling uphill, cross country skiing, intense swimming, intense rope jumping, etc.
You must do these endurance exercises for at least 30 minutes to see benefits. Find out which kind of routine works for you. You must sustain energy, not deplete it.
Equipment to help work on stamina
If you can't go outside to train, you can use the typical equipment:
- Stationary bike or spin bike
- Elliptical trainer
Improve GRACE and ARTISTRY
Why work on grace and artistry?
Figure skating is an artistic sport. Nowadays we tend to forget a little because of all the jumps. The drastic rule changes over the past 20 years have had a big impact. Therefore, usually it is the best program technically which wins the highest marks, if basic artistry is here.
However, excellent artistry can make a difference when two skaters have similar technical levels.
And in Ice Dance, grace and artistry has a much more important impact on marks.
It helps to have a panel of possible movements in place with memory muscle to be natural in physical and facial expressions.
How to improve your grace and artistry?
- You should work on your posture - especially working on back, shoulder and neck muscles
- Your work on core strength and flexibility done above helps improve lines
- Complete with other artistic sports - hip-hop, ballet, funk/jazz, ballroom, modern dance...
- Theater or improvisation can also help you with expressing emotions
A great way to improve artistry is to record your performance. This way you can notice the position of your hands / arms / neck and then look in a mirror to fix it. Feel in your body the difference in positioning.
Equipment to help work on grace and artistry
Power twist - the resistance helps build your back muscles for great upper body position
Improve MENTAL STRENGTH
Why work on mental strength?
It is important to possess good mental equilibrium too. However, many trainers overlook this aspect completely. You must be calm on the ice. The body will follow the mind.
You must first explore your reasons for taking up figure skating.
And then you should work on:
Such hectic activity should be followed by rest. Your body must have time to recover from the stress and strain. Therefore, do take some time off from your off-ice training program. Neither more nor less is better as far as figure skating training is concerned. You must take charge of your mind, if your body is to remain intact. Your body must have time to recover its strength.
Note that when you are training off the ice, your muscle fibers are breaking down. Only a nutritious regimen and appropriate rest can bring their strength back to normal. Therefore, include rest in your exercise schedule. Make the small changes. Note the big differences!
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