Sk8Strong was happy to have spent a few days at the Liberty summer competition in Pennsylvania, watching some of the top US skaters while educating coaches and parents of proper off-ice training techniques. Patrick Chan, Ashley Wagner, and Adam Rippon were kind enough to take some time to talk with Sk8Strong about their off-ice training regimens.
Here's a great Q & A with Patrick Chan:
1) How many days per week to you do some form of off-ice training?
"I do different kinds of off-ice training at least 6 days a week. On weekdays I do off-ice work around mid day and later in the afternoon: on Monday, Wednesday and Friday I do yoga during my lunch break after my morning session; on Tuesday and Thursday I do a cardio work out instead of yoga. Now after I'm done skating during the day I see my personal trainer where we work on more specific areas of the body. Finally I get a day off on Sunday."
2) What does your typical off-ice training routine include?
"I don't quite know any of the exercises by name, I can sort of describe some of them for you. My off-ice routine usually includes squats, leg presses, plyomertrics (box jumps, hurdles...) and a bunch of body weight resisted exercises. Like chin ups, clapping push ups. I also use medicine balls and swiss balls in many of my exercises. And finally I use exercise bands with different resistance to work my upper body and abs."
3)Do you work with a physical therapist, strength and conditioning specialist, etc.?
"I definitely have physical therapists ready for me if i ever injure myself and i need to get treated immediately. My strength and conditioning "specialist" is basically my personal trainer. It's great because most of my trainers (at home, Florida and Delaware) have great knowledge of strengthening and conditioning. So I don't have to have multiple people working on me, I only need my trainer who has basically all the knowledge needed to help me. All in one!
4)How important is off-ice training to helping you maintain consistency in your skating, and do you find it a necessary component of your training?
"I find off-ice training super super important, even though some coaches disagree and are against high amounts of off-ice training. I don't know how I'd be able to do some of the things I do on the ice if I wasn't doing off-ice preparation. Off-ice training has allowed me to push my limits on the ice and help build stamina through my training sessions on the ice. Without it I'm quite sure I'd have some kind of injury and wishing that I'd had done off-ice training. With todays new judging system and great complexity in our programs, I believe it's a must to have some kind of off-ice training. Like I said, off-ice preparation prepares me for what I have to do on the ice and helps me with injury prevention."
5) Do you use weight machines or body weight resistance exercises?
"I use both weight machines and body weight resisted exercises. It's good to add some variety to your work out and incorporate both types of exercises in your workout. Some people might think that weight machines will bulk you up (as I, myself, thought before) but what I learned is that it's not the machine, it's the way you complete and do the exercises. I believe that machines work the general and larger muscles, and body weight resisted exercises work the smaller more specific muscles. I love both kinds equally and I usually switch back and forth depending on the day and how I feel. "
6) What do you do as a warmup before you skate?
"Before practice and competitions I usually start off with a bit of a run around the rink (around 6 laps) if possible. Usually when I first start warming up I'm quite groggy and sluggish, so I look into doing fast twitching exercises like one foot jumping, long jumps and squat jumps. As well as a few balancing exercises, just to make sure that my body is in tune and I can sharpen my sense of balance (especially in the morning). Finally I do light stretches since I try not to force myself too much into stretches especially when I've just woken up. Too painful! An extremely important stretch for myself is to stretch my neck. There has been way too many occasions where I've skipped the stretch and ended up with a tweaked neck at the end of the session. So no matter what, take the time to stretch your neck, especially with today's crazy footworks and complex body positions in spins. I've had many trainers and specialists tell me that a warm up should at least get you to break a sweat and get you feeling warm, so that's when I know I've almost finished my warm up."
*A special thanks to Patrick and his in-depth answers. Patrick will be incorporating Sk8Strong's dynamic warmup exercises into his routine.
Ashley Wagner is the US senior ladies pewter medalist and winner of the 2009 ladies freeskate. She currently trains in Delaware, and does some form of off-ice training every day! She keeps it light, running on the weekends, then spends her week in pilates and conditioning classes that emphasize core and lower body strengthening. She favors body weight resisted exercises versus machines, and uses the TRX training system, which consists of two sport cords with handles, which are perfect for the traveling skater! Ashley also added ballet and dance to her regimen last year, which she said 'greatly improved my artistry.' Sk8Strong agrees! Ashley works hard to prevent injury: "I work with a physical therapist. My back is my biggest problem, and that helps to maintain it. Off-ice training is equally important as on-ice training in maintaining consistency." Ashley is definately on the right track, and I look forward to seeing her skate this season.
Adam Rippon is the World junior champion and upcoming senior medal contender for the US. He includes off-ice training in his routine five days per week, and follows periodization guidelines by upping his training in the summer. He does "a lot of dynamic warmups and plyometrics" and also includes body weight resisted exercises in his workouts. Adam said he started taking his off-ice training seriously three years ago, which helped him gain consistency. "I also work with a physical therapist. If I didn't have my PT, I would break. It is very important to prevent injury!" Let's hope Adam keeps working with that therapist, as Sk8Strong would like to enjoy his skating for years to come.