Chapter 11 Plyometric Training Concepts:

  • Know all definitions throughout the chapter
  • Integrated performance paradigm
  • The phases of Plyometric Exercise
  • Figure 11.2 Program design parameters for reactive training
  • OPT™ Level (adaptation): Stabilization, Strength, or Power (be familiar with all exercises listed, as well as how to regress and progress the exercises listed)
  • Type of Exercise: Balance
  • Table 11.1 Plyometric training program design

Principles of Plyometric Training

  • Also known as jump or reactive training, form of exercise that uses explosive movements such as bounding, hopping, and jumping to develop muscular power.
  • Plyometric training is type of training where individual reacts to the ground surface in such a way that they develop larger than normal ground forces that can then be used to project body with greater velocity or speed of movement.
  • Reactive training refers to reaction stimulus clients encounter during plyometric training, which is ground surface in this case, therefore reactive and plyometric are used interchangeably.
  • Individuals must possess adequate core strength, joint stability, and range of motion and have ability to balance efficiently before performing any plyometric exercises.

What is Plyometric Training?

  • Enhanced performance during functional activities emphasizes the ability of muscles to exert maximal force output in a minimal amount of time(also known as rate of force production).
  • Rate of Force Production – Ability of muscles to exert maximal force output in minimal amount of time.
  • Success in everyday activities and sport depends on speed at which muscular force is generated. Speed of movement is function of training, reactive neuromuscular control is function of learning. Key then is muscular overload and rapid movements during execution of training exercises.
  • Plyometric (reactive) training – Exercises that generate quick, powerful movements involving an explosive concentric muscle contraction preceded by an eccentric muscle action.
  • Explosive muscular contractions can be seen in practical instances such as rebounding in basketball.
  • Integrated Performance Paradigm – Move with efficiency, forces must be dampened(eccentrically), stabilized(isometrically), and then accelerated(concentrically). So muscles must slow down in eccentric phase, pause isometrically, then explosively accelerate in concentric phase.

Three phrases of Plyometric Exercise

  • Eccentric Phase – First stage of plyometric movement, classified as eccentric phase, but also called deceleration, loading, yielding, counter movement, or cocking phase. Phase increases muscle spindle activity by prestretching the muscle before activation. Potential energy stored in the elastic components of the muscle during this loading phase much like stretching a rubber band.
  • Amortization Phase – Dynamic stabilization and is time between end of eccentric muscle action and initiation of concentric contraction. Prolonged amortization phase results in less than optimal neuromuscular efficiency from a loss of elastic potential energy. Rapid switch from eccentric loading to concentric contraction leads to a more powerful response.
  • Concentric phase – occurs immediately after amortization phase, involves concentric contraction.

Importance of Plyometric Training

  • Plyo exercises enhance excitability, sensitivity, and reactivity of neuromuscular system and increase the rate of force production(power), motor unit recruitment, firing frequency(rate coding) and motor unit synchronization.
  • These exercises can be incorporated once client has achieved an overall strength base, proper core strength, and balance stabilization capabilities.
  • All movement patterns that occur during functional activities involve a series of repetitive stretch-shortening cycles(eccentric and concentric contractions). Stretch-shortening cycles require neuromuscular system to react quickly and efficiently after an eccentric muscle action to produce a concentric contraction and impart necessary force(or acceleration) in the appropriate direction. Plyometric training prepares client for functional demands of specific activity.
  • Plyometric training provides ability to train specific movement patterns in a biomechnically correct manner at more functionally appropriate speed. Ultimate goal of plyometric training is to decrease the reaction time of muscle action spectrum, this is what results in increased speed of movement in the individual.
  • Speed of muscular exertion is limited by neuromuscular coordination. Means that the body will only move within a range of speed that the nervous system has been programmed to allow. Plyo training improves neuromuscular efficiency and improves range of speed set by CNS.
  • Often overlooked in traditional training programs.

Designing a Plyometric Training Program

Stabilization Exercises

  • Involve little joint motion. Designed to establish optimal landing mechanics, postural alignment, and reactive neuromuscular efficiency(coordination during dynamic movement). When individual lands they should hold the landing position for 3 to 5 seconds.
  • Exercises: Squat jump with stabilization, box jump-up with stabilization, box jump-down with stabilization, multiplanar jump with stabilization

Plyometric Strength Exercises

  • Exercises involve more dynamic eccentric and concentric movement through a full range of motion. Specificity, speed, and neural demand may also be progressed at this level. Exercises are intended to improve dynamic joint stabilization, eccentric strength, rate of force production, and neuromuscular efficiency of the entire human movement system. Performed in repetitive fashion(spending relatively short time on the ground before repeating the drill).
  • Exercises: Squat jump, tuck jump, butt kick, power step-up

Plyometric Power Exercises

  • Exercises involve entire muscle action spectrum and contraction-velocity spectrum used during integrated, functional movements. Designed to further improve the rate of force production, eccentric strength, reactive strength, reactive joint stabilization, dynamic neuromuscular efficiency, and optimal force production. Performed as fast and explosively as possible.
  • Exercises: Ice-skaters, single-leg power step-up, proprioceptive plyometrics.

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Strength and Power

Ice Dynamics® uses a progression of exercises that build from simple to complex in difficulty and intensity as a comprehensive approach incorporating balance, alignment, stabilization, strength and power. The goal of strength and plyometric exercises are to initially stabilize and strengthen, then later develop power and agility in the trunk, arms and legs in a beneficial manner for figure skating. Correct body alignment and off-ice training technique reinforce muscle memory that will carry over to the ice and build the foundation for consistent and powerful skating.

Guidelines for Strength and Plyometrics

  • Overload forces are increased gradually to prevent injury.
    • Progression: balance, alignment and stabilization, strength and power.
    • All athletes start with their own body weight for strength training. Body weight exercises reinforce on-ice demands and emphasize standing exercises to focus on posture and alignment.
    • By using body weight and free weights instead of machines, more muscles are trained to assist with joint stabilization and balance.
    • Proper form with the basics teaches the groundwork technique for heavier lifting and explosive training. If an athlete cannot maintain excellent form during an exercise then the exercise intensity should be reduced, for example, using a lighter weight, a lower box, or a more stable surface.
    • Strength training and plyometric training are incorporated into the same workouts to fully work the muscles.
  • Figure skaters who jump sustain landing forces up to ten times their body weight; reducing impact forces in other aspects of training helps to reduce the overall exposure to high impacts.
  • Appropriate time is needed between exercise bouts for the recovery of bones, ligaments, muscles, and tendons.
  • Training surfaces such as spring floors, thick rubber mats or wrestling mats are recommended and shoes need excellent shock absorbing qualities.
    • The poor shock absorbing qualities of concrete or unsuspended hardwood floors may increase the risk of injury.

What are Plyometric Exercises?

  • Plyometric training progresses gradually in difficulty, intensity and volume and trains muscles to contract strongly and quickly for powerful jumps.
  • Consecutive jumps are plyometric when the landing of one jump stretches the muscles that are needed for the take off of the next jump. In repeated jumping on and off of a box, the muscles in the front of the thighs are stretched like a rubber band on landing and are pre-stretched to strongly contract for the next jump back onto the box. The quickness of the knee bend at landing is more important than the degree of knee bend for effective training.
  • Lower body plyometric exercises incorporate sets of skips, long, high, and side-to-side jumps, one or two feet jumps off the floor or over a certain height, or jumping to and from a box. Upper extremity plyometric exercises use variations of sit-ups, push-ups, and throwing and catching a weighted ball. These exercises increase strength and quickness in the arms, chest, and shoulders.

Precautions

Very young children, older adults, or deconditioned individuals should not participate in high-level plyometric training. However, those able to participate in a vigorous training program can complete low and moderate level drills. It is recommended that prepubescent and adolescent athletes are monitored by trained professionals (exercise physiologist, athletic trainer, physical therapist, personal trainer or certified strength coach) during weight training and plyometrics to assure proper form and safely. Young athletes acquire skills through repetition of proper technique, called motor learning. Training will safely progress as strength and power develop when the skater learns excellent form from the start in lifting and jumping skills.

Whether it’s winter or summer, ice skating can be a great year-round activity to keep you active and fit. Of course, you don’t always need a frozen lake to enjoy ice skating, as many major cities have indoor ice skating rinks that allow you to enjoy the activity even if it’s 100 degrees outside. The stability, control and strength involved in ice skating, either competitively or recreationally, are key elements in the activity that make it a fun and healthy activity for all ages and abilities.

Here are the Top 10 from Health Fitness Revolution and author of the book ReSYNC Your Life Samir Becic:

  • Better balance: Ice skating helps improve your balance through fun and positive exercise. Travelling across an incredibly slippery surface should quickly train you to stay on your feet.
  • Improves joint flexibility: If your leg joints creak every time you rise from your bed in the morning, ice skating could offer a real solution. With its emphasis on quick foot movements and strong knees, your leg joints will receive a great workout and hopefully feel more flexible in no time.
  • Builds leg muscles: Focusing on lower-body movement, ice skating offers great exercise for the leg muscles, building and toning them up over time.
  • Cardio: Aerobic exercise is an important aspect of cardiovascular health, and ice skating provides a great aerobic workout. The best part about skating is you get a great cardio workout without even knowing it.
  • Endurance: Ice skating requires energy over an extended period of time, making it a great way to build your endurance. The longer you skate, the more you’ll improve your endurance, not just for ice skating but for other sports and activities as well.
  • Weight management: If you are trying to lose or maintain your weight, ice skating is a good way to burn calories while having fun! Ice skating burns from 300-650 calories per hour, depending on how hard you skate.
  • Stress relief: Regular physical activity like ice skating can help combat the effects of stress. Ice skating is one of the most fun ways to exercise, especially if you skate outdoors where you can soak up the scenery and enjoy nature.
  • Improves joints: Through gliding and synchronized movement of the legs, the joints and muscles will get a great workout and will become flexible in no time. Skating is said to be more beneficial than cycling and running. Ice skating works almost every major muscle group in the body, including joints.
  • Mental fitness: The fresh air and sunshine in outdoor ice skating, as well as the company of family and friends, greatly help in unwinding from a long week of work and stress. Self confidence is definitely improved as well.

If you are planning to take a spin on the ice, here are some Amazon favorites to check out and bring along. Just click the images below!

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Do you need a cool way to work out over the winter? Ice skating has many health and wellness benefits, plus it’s lots of fun! Learn about how ice skating can help you reach your fitness goals and find some tips on getting started.

Joint and muscle health

Skating works nearly every muscle group in the body, and gliding requires synchronized movement of the legs, which is important for joint flexibility. It also builds up the leg and abdominal muscles. Like any workout, skating is great for cardiovascular health – it gets blood pumping and the heart rate up. And it’s a lot of fun to glide around the ice; unlike with other types of exercise, you probably won’t even remember that you’re working out!

Improved balance, coordination and weight management

Strengthening your muscles and improving your joint health leads to better balance. So does trying to stay standing on the ice. By learning to engage your muscles to stay standing, you’re not only toning them, but also improving your control over your body and your endurance.

According to Harvard Medical School, ice skating will burn up to 200 calories per hour, making it a great way to lose or maintain weight when combined with a healthy diet.

Stress management

Working out in general is a great way to relieve stress because physical activity releases endorphins in the brain. Learning to ice skate also boosts self-confidence and hones focus as you learn the many new moves skating offers, like crossovers, going backwards and spinning. Bringing friends to the rink or meeting new people during lessons is also a great way to relax and unwind after a long week at work.

Equipment needed

A properly fitted pair of skates is a must. If you’re not sure whether you’ll stick with skating, rental skates are a good choice. Rental skates are high quality, and you’ll be able to try a variety of sizes. Aside from skates, make sure you bring a pair of gloves to protect your hands during falls, dress in warm clothing you can move in and bring pads and a helmet if they make you feel more comfortable.

Where to start

A basic skating class is the safest bet if you’ve never been on the ice before or haven’t skated since childhood. These classes teach important skills like how to stop and how to fall! Starting out by learning the right way is a lot more fun than struggling, clutching the rink wall and possibly getting hurt. View the activities guide for information on current ice arena programs and lessons!

Just like with any exercise program, be sure to check with your doctor before you begin!

Sources

Healthline Editorial Team. Peggy Pletcher, ed. “It’s Never Too Late: Learn How To Ice Skate.” Healthline. June 23, 2016. Accessed September 12, 2017.

Steiner, M. Kathryn. “Fitness Benefits of Ice Skating.” Live in Motion. New England Baptist Hospital blogs, January 23, 2017. Accessed September 12, 2017.

“Top Ten Benefits of Ice Skating.” Health Fitness Revolution. April 23, 2015. Accessed September 12, 2017.

If you’ve ever seen a Hallmark Christmas movie set in New York City, you likely know that ice skating in Rockefeller Center is just about one of the most festive things you can do during the winter time. Despite living here for six years of my adult life, though, I’d never actually done it. I talked about it all winter, every winter, to anyone who was willing to listen, but every time it seemed like it was actually going to happen, the massive crowds and freezing temps stopped me in my tracks…and so did the fact that I didn’t know how to ice skate.

So when I got an e-mail inviting me to take an early morning skating lesson at the Rink at Rockefeller Center with former Olympic figure skater Jojo Starbuck, I was positively giddy with excitement. I was going to be the next Tara Lipinski (or Jonathan Van Ness), and I couldn’t wait.

When I showed up to the semi-private class at quarter of 7 a.m. on a freezing Tuesday morning in the middle of February, I was blown away by the fact that the movie-famous attraction was completely empty. It was totally devoid of the usual tourists that tend to swarm to the area all winter long, and when I laced up my skates and hit the rink (…is that a thing actual skaters say?) I was one of only nine people on the ice, all of whom were there to skate with Starbuck.

My dream of being a naturally talented figure skater was quickly squashed, but I still managed to make my way around the ice (thanks in large part to Starbuck’s A+ teaching) without falling, and by the end of my hour-long lesson was even doing some basic tricks like twirling and skating backward. Even though I kind of sucked, I absolutely loved it, as evidenced by the massive, goofy grin on my face in every single photo from the morning.

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In what might just be the coolest thing I’ve gotten to do in 5 years living in NYC, I spent the morning taking a skating lesson from former Olympian @jojostarbuck777 at #rockefellercenter (no, the video is not in slo-mo 😂😂)

A post shared by Zoe Weiner (@zoeweinerrr) on Feb 19, 2019 at 6:08am PST

But not only was ice skating the most fun thing ever (and, I’m going to be honest, doing it practically alone in Rockefeller Center was definitely the coolest thing I’ve ever done), but it also turned out to be a really good—and really hard—workout. “Skating works primarily the glutes and quads, but also your core and back,” says Starbuck. “Good balance in skating requires you to be at least slightly bent in your ankles, knees and hips almost all the time, while remaining lifted/supported in your core and back.” And that’s not to mention the fact that gliding around on a sheet of ice for the better part of an hour can really get your heart rate going.

“Skating is an excellent lower-body workout because it engages all the foot and leg muscles, tones and strengthens them without heavy impact,” confirms skating pro Moira North. “Skating improves balance and coordination, and you learn to make micro movements to constantly adjust to the glide and friction. Adding in speed and angular momentum forces your body to become stronger than just going to the gym and repeating the same movements over and over.”

Even if you don’t plan to hit up Rockefeller Center in these final few weeks of winter (though, for what it’s worth, Starbuck’s Tuesday-Thursday morning class is open to the public, and might just be the best kept secret in New York City), there are ways that you can craft a skating lesson of your own wherever you are. In addition to skating being a great workout on its own, Starbuck shared a few tips on how to get as many physical benefits as possible out of your time on the ice.

For a little cardio action

To get your heart seriously pumping, push yourself around the rink for two minutes, non-stop. “When pushing, never use your toe picks—always push the ice away to the side, using the inside edge of your blades,” says Starbuck of engaging in proper form. “Keep down in your knees before the push, and keep up with your core, back, and eyes at all times.” She also suggests keeping your arms out at 10 and 2 o’clock for balance, especially if you’re a newbie like me.

For an added, glute-tastic challenge

Get some flow going, then balance on one foot and glide the length of the rink. “To balance this, keep lifted foot close to skating calf, look forward, and whatever leg you’ve lifted, put that same arm in front of you. (The other arm is out to your side.) This should help steer you in a straight line.

For a way to amp up your favorite gym moves

Looking for a way to make your usual gym moves harder? Try ’em on the ice. “Get some flow and then putting all of your weight on one leg, lunge with the other leg behind you, as you would in a lunge on the ground,” says Starbuck, noting that the arch of the dragging foot should be on the ice behind the weight bearing foot. Repeat on either side, and you will seriously be feeling the (very, very cool) burn.

For a way to make things more fun

Skating in a straight line is fun enough as it is, but if you really want to make things exciting (and muscle building), take it for a twirl. “Put your right arm out in front of your belly button, and your left arm back, and push repeatedly with the right inside-edge of the right foot. This will take you in a circle,” says Starbuck. “You can monitor the width of the circle by adjusting your arms…the more you twist your upper body to the center of the circle the tighter the circle will be.” She suggests continuing in this figure-eight pattern quickly and repeatedly. Until you get dizzy, that is.

Working out in the cold may seem unappealing, but here’s why sweating it out in near-freezing temps can actually be beneficial. And actually, why going for a run outside—even in the middle of winter—may be a good idea, at least a few days per week.

STRENGTH & CONDITIONING

Figure skating is a physically demanding sport. Delivering a singles, pairs or ice dance program requires a high skill level to effectively execute the various spins, jumps, sequences and holds while making it look graceful and effortless.

When jumping, skaters can experience landing forces exceeding 10 times their body weight: a 50-kg (approximately 101-pound) skater could experience momentary landing forces greater than 500 kg (more than 1100 pounds).

For strength and conditioning coaches, these elements provide some interesting challenges. Competitive skating in general is much like gymnastics in that the athletes learn the skills at a young age. This situation puts skating into the early specialization category of sports when considering long-term athlete development. At an age when most children are enjoying a variety of physical activities and learning movement through play, skaters are already beginning to specialize in the sport.

I have assessed the demands of figure skating and looked at common injury patterns and typical on-ice training volumes. Skaters often repeat various elements of their program over and over during a training session;
this repetition in itself places a great demand on the body.

A strength and conditioning program should include the development of robustness to help the athlete meet the demands and rigors of training, as well as improve performance in competition. It is also essential that the athletes obtain a movement assessment. An assessment can highlight any potential injury risks as well as any developmental or physical requirements, such as strength or power deficits or muscle imbalances that can impact future development or performance.

Female athletes participating in sports that involve jumping and landing are at a higher risk of serious knee injuries. Non-contact anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries are among the most debilitating.

Skaters can reduce the risk of these injuries by strengthening specific muscles and establishing correct movement patterns.

Ensuring that the hamstring muscles are strong through both hip extension and knee flexion will help to reduce the risk of knee shear, which occurs when the tibia, or shin, is pulled forward incorrectly by the quadriceps.

Activating and strengthening the gluteus medius and maximus muscles will help to reduce internal rotation of the femur, in which the knees come in across the midline of the body on take off and landing of jumps. The combination of these muscle weaknesses and poor movement patterns increases the risk of an ACL injury.

Increasing the strength and power of both these muscle groups can reduce that risk and increase athletic performance.

Younger athletes can start this strengthening program by using exercise bands; clamshells target the gluteus muscles, and hamstring curls and body-weight single-leg deadlifts target the hamstrings. The squat is also a great exercise for skaters, young or old. Learning the squat as a body-weight exercise strengthens most of the key lower-limb muscles used in skating.

The body-weight squat can progress to a squat jump to increase strength and power or a single-leg squat (in which the body resembles a teapot) to increase lower-limb strength and balance.

Without sound exercise technique, any effective progression will be limited and potentially lead to injury. It is essential that a coach adhere strictly to this mantra, especially when working with young athletes who are just starting strength- training programs.

Tim Silvester is a UKSCA accredited strength and conditioning coach who conducts seminars around the world for athletes at all levels. He can be reached at [email protected]

Two TRIA physical therapists, Erika Mundinger and Meredith Bassett and one athletic trainer, Dani Benson, from HealthPartners presented a variety of exercises for figure skaters for the U.S. Figure Skating Championship. They presented a stretching series, dynamic warm-up series, and a muscle activation series that benefit figure skaters.

Stretching series for figure skaters

  • Standing Hip Flexor Stretch
  • Standing Hamstring Stretch
  • Standing Figure 4 Piriformis Stretch

Dynamic warm up series for figure skaters

  • Toy Soldiers
  • Walking Quad Stretching
  • Walking Hip Openers

Muscle activation series for figure skaters

  • Single Leg Deadlift/Balance
  • Jump Squats or Jump Lunges or Star Jumps
  • Skipping
  • Rotation Jumps

“Figure skating requires excellent flexibility at the hips and knees while maintaining stability at the core and pelvis,” Erika Mundinger explains. “These exercises will help with addressing the mobility at the hips while retaining proper posture and improving core strength.” Bassett and Mundinger also explain the differences in the each series. “Dynamic stretching is to be completed prior to taking the ice in order to appropriately activate and elongate muscle tissue as it will be used during the skating session. Static stretching should be completed after the skating session to focus on improving muscle length at the targeted muscle group. In addition to skating, the core and hip muscle areas should be targeted with strength training to build strength/endurance that is specific to the skater’s body type and routine.”

“The dynamic warm up should be completed before each time going out onto the ice for both practicing and competitions. At the conclusion of each skating session, static stretches should be performed,” Meredith Bassett said. “Muscle activation/strengthening series should be completed 3-4x/week under the supervision of an athletic trainer or physical therapist to ensure proper form and appropriate progression.”

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  • Weightlifting and Figure Skating: An Odd Fit? Or Are All Olympians Doing It?

    Many Breaking Muscle readers have taken to watching the Winter Olympic Games from Sochi this month. During the broadcast, several product advertisements or feature stories have highlighted America’s finest athletes working out – and in particular, squatting.

    Sports such as alpine skiing, bobsled, and ice hockey have engaged in serious strength training for many years. Fans, however, may wonder about the relevant application of sound weight training methods to other winter sports. Suffice it to say, all athletes at this level engage in some form of resistance training, either as an injury prevention practice or for performance enhancement. But what about true weightlifting training? Well, even in sports as remote as skeleton, fourth place Team USA member Katie Uhlaender sang the praises of her weightlifting training in Shreveport, Louisiana under the supervision of Kyle Pierce, the director of the USA Weightlifting Development Center there.1

    The Case for Figure Skating

    My first real exposure to figure skating occurred just after the 1992 Olympics, when I was enlisted to serve as a strength coach for a men’s junior world championship figure skating silver medalist. The opportunity greatly expanded my awareness of this sport, its physical demands, and the amazing amount of time skaters spend on the ice throughout the day. So much time was devoted to on-ice training that off-ice training became a matter of “when do we fit it in?”

    Selling true strength and power training to a non-strength or power athlete is often a challenge. My young charge was not convinced of my approach and his adherence to a periodized strength-training program was poor. He wanted to spend more time on the “pec-deck” (“I need this to help with my spins”) than on squatting. We never got to any of the more serious training that could have quickly provided additional on-ice benefits. As I struggled to establish a reasonable approach with this athlete, I recalled a relevant story I’d heard earlier that connected the benefits of weightlifting training for figure skating.

    Indulge me for a brief, but related, history lesson. The US Olympic Committee’s first attempt at a training center took place at Squaw Valley, California in 1979. The idea of training centers resulted from the Amateur Sports Act of 1978 (now revised as the Ted Stevens Olympic and Amateur Sports Act).2 This massive legislative act came about in reaction to small East Germany’s greater gold medal count than the USA’s in the 1976 Summer Olympic Games.

    Weightlifters training for the 1980 Moscow Summer Olympic Games shared training facilities with athletes from several sports, including Randy Gardner, the pairs figure skating world champion from 1979 (with Tai Babilonia). I became USA Weightlifting’s first national coach in 1981 at the larger, permanent Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs. Several of my lifters reported that Gardner was capable of clean and jerk lifts in the 220lb range – certainly an outstanding effort for a non-weightlifter. This total-body, ground-based exercise certainly makes a lot of sense for someone who repeatedly lifts and throws their partner into the air, on skates, no less.

    How and Why Such Training is Relevant

    Noted sports biomechanist John Garhammer has investigated the power output in weightlifters of both genders and all abilities. He has repeatedly shown that elite male lifters generate as much as 5,500 watts of power during the so-called second pull phase of the snatch or the clean, and approximately the same amount in the jerk portion of the clean and jerk.3 These lifts all involve rapid and coordinated triple extension of the ankle, knee, and hip joints, similar to the jumping actions of various sports.

    By comparison, the so-called “power” lifts of the squat, bench press, and deadlift reportedly create between 300 and 1,100 watts of power. Gardner was no doubt a bit of a pioneer more than thirty years ago, but he recognized the benefits of training a total body, multiple-joint movement like the clean and jerk with weights well beyond those he typically experienced in his event.

    Fast forward more than thirty years and we today find that explosive training has gained tremendous support from sports coaches of many, if not most, disciplines. A recent survey of high school strength coaches found that 97% use Olympic-style lifts in the training of their athletes and that 78% rated the clean as the number-one or number-two “most important exercise.”4

    Training explosively, that is, attempting to move a mass at the fastest possible speed, is advanced training. It is important to first lay a proper foundation with bodyweight resistance exercises (pull-ups, dips, etc.), followed by general weight training or bodybuilding protocols to prepare the muscular system for the more challenging weightlifting-specific exercises. But, with proper preparation, most athletes benefit from moving into more serious strength and power exercises, including those found in the sports of powerlifting and weightlifting.

    Final Thoughts

    We can safely conclude that most Olympic-level athletes at the Sochi Winter Games are training with weights. Some may be performing simple, basic exercises that at least may balance their muscular development or prevent injury. But, I’m willing to bet that more than we might expect are engaged in advanced training, such as weightlifting-specific exercises.

    Included here is an excellent example of good weightlifting technique in the clean and jerk exercise, demonstrated by strength coach and first-year weightlifter, TJ Greenstone. TJ, lifting in the +105kg (superheavyweight) category, needed this lift (185kg, 407-3/4lbs) to garner the bronze medal in the 2013 American Open Weightlifting Championships. He’ll never be mistaken for a figure skater, but athletes from any sport would do well to emulate his technique.

    Check this out and see if your athletes could benefit from such training. Click on the arrow indicators to see the various positions that make up the entire movement.

    1. “Hall of Fame Class of 2012 – Ted Stevens,” TeamUSA.org, accessed Feb 2014.

    2. “Level 1 Sports Performance Coaching Course” manual, USA Weightlifting, January 2010, page 3.

    3. Duehring, et al, “Strength and Conditioning Practices of United States High School Strength and Conditioning Coaches,” Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research, Volume 23, Issue 8, November 2009, 2188-2203.

    Photos courtesy of .

    Workouts for Figure Skaters

    Your core muscles, including various areas of your back and abdominal muscles, are important for strength in maintaining poses and balance while stabilizing your spine to prevent injury. Perform planks, sometimes referred to as bridges, to strengthen your core muscles. This exercise requires little movement as you lie on your abdomen with your upper body propped on your elbows and forearms. Lift your hips off the ground and hold this position for 10 seconds. Perform twisting crunches to strengthen your central abdominal muscles as well as your obliques. From the traditional crunch position, twist your torso left and right as your chest approaches your knees. Strengthen your upper back with dumbbell shrugs, and your central back with kneeling rows, kneeling on a weight bench with one arm supporting your body weight while performing rows with a dumbbell in the opposite hand. Finish your core training session by strengthening your lower back with deadlifts, performed with either a barbell or a dumbbell in each hand.

    Playing hockey and ice skating are some of the best ways to improve (and maintain) your cardiovascular conditioning in the winter months. Like snowshoeing and skiing, you’ll need a good level of lower body strength and hip mobility to excel at these activities and prevent injury. You’ll also need excellent core strength and stability to maintain balance on the ice.

    One of the most common hockey- or skating-related injuries is a strain, tear or rupture of the adductor (inner thigh) muscles — also known as a groin strain. The adductor muscles are engaged when your leg is pulled back toward the center of your body after a stride on the ice, and they’re stretched when your leg extends out to the side. To help you prevent this injury, the first exercise in our workout below will strengthen this muscle group.

    Muscles and joints can become tighter as a natural effect of aging, so before hitting the ice, make sure you go through at least 10 minutes of a full-body warm-up routine. Incorporate these 3 strength moves into your regular workouts 2 to 3 times per week.

    1. Sumo Goblet Squat

    Groin strains, common in hockey and ice skating, often occur because of strength imbalances between the inner thigh muscles and those of the outer hip and glute. Most often, the inner thigh muscles aren’t strong enough compared to the outer thigh muscles. The sumo squat is an excellent exercise to strengthen your inner thigh muscles (as well as your quads and glutes) while also improving hip mobility.

    Bright Photography

    Stand with your feet slightly wider than hip width, with your toes pointed slightly out. Hold a dumbbell or kettlebell at chest height. Hinge your hips back behind you and squat down until your thighs are parallel to the ground. Press into the floor with your feet to return to standing. Make sure you keep your back flat and your chest up throughout the movement. Repeat for repetitions. Aim for 3 sets of 10-12 repetitions with a weight that feels very challenging at about 7 reps.

    2. Single Leg Deadlifts

    This exercise strengthens the hamstrings and glutes, improves ankle stability and works your balance. It also mimics the hip hinge position you’ll need to assume on the ice.

    Stand on your right leg, holding a dumbbell in each hand. Keep your right knee slightly bent as you hinge your hips back and extend your left leg behind you. Reach halfway down your shin with the dumbbells, then press your right heel into the floor to return to standing. Complete all repetitions on the right leg, then switch sides. Aim for 3 sets of 10-12 reps with a weight that feels very challenging at about 7 repetitions.

    3. Stir the Pot

    This is one of my favorite core exercises for my older clients. It’s very challenging but is easy on the wrists and knees for those with arthritis or other joint concerns.

    Get into a plank position with your toes on the floor, feet hip width apart and forearms resting on a stability ball. Tuck your pelvis slightly to flatten out your low back. Brace your core muscles. Breathing smoothly, move your arms clockwise so the ball rolls in small circles. Complete repetitions, then switch directions. Make sure your body stays stable — only your arms should be moving. Aim for 3 sets of 12-15 repetitions in each direction. Once you’ve mastered that, increase the difficulty of this exercise by elevating your feet on a bench.

    Trainer’s Tip

    Assuming you warm-up adequately and regularly perform the strength exercises we list here, skating and hockey can be excellent ways of improving your cardiovascular endurance without the impact of running, which might be difficult for older adults with osteoarthritis or other joint pain.

    Why Ice Skating Should Be Your New Winter Workout

    Presented by: Independence Blue Cross

    Photo credit: /Syda Productions

    Sometimes your favorite workouts get pushed aside when the seasons change. (Going outdoors with wet hair post-swim just doesn’t seem worth it come January.) And unless you want to spend all winter inside the gym, it’s essential to tweak your exercise regimen.

    Why not make this season’s workout switch-up ice skating? If you’re healthy, fit and looking for a challenge, ice skating is a calorie-torching, leg-toning and core-strengthening activity that’s actually fun. Here are five reasons you should strap on your skates and head to Blue Cross RiverRink (psst: Independence Blue Cross members get free admission when they show their member ID!):

    1. Burn calories. Someone weighing 150 pounds who does light skating for 60 minutes burns 392.93 calories1. You’ll burn twice as many calories as you would during yoga, and about the same as you would on the elliptical (along with having way more fun). Integrate a few ice skating sessions into your weekly workout routine and you could start seeing serious weight loss.
    2. Strengthen the core. Sure, ice skating might look graceful, but it takes a lot of core strength to navigate turns and remain upright when gliding along the ice. Because ice skating engages the abs without requiring you to get on the floor and do crunches, it’s a fun way to socialize and get outdoors without sacrificing your ab workout for the day.
    3. Tone legs. To execute make sharp pivots and long strides, you must engage your quadriceps, hamstrings, erectors and gluteals, contributing to powerful, lithe limbs.
    4. Aid joint health. A low-impact exercise, ice skating allows those with weak joints to zip around the rink without the harsh effects of pavement-to-sneaker running. Knees, ankles and hips will see improvement with regular workouts.
    5. Improve endurance. Ice skating for longer periods of time is excellent for increasing endurance. The more skillful beginner skaters become, the longer their workouts will become. The gained endurance can ultimately translate to other fitness activities like running or dancing.

    1Nieman, David, C. Exercise Testing and Prescription, McGraw Hill, 2003.

    For more information on how Independence Blue Cross can be a part of your plan for health and wellness, click here.

    Sponsor content is created for IBX by Philadelphia magazine as a marketing collaboration with IBX. This material is intended for reference and information only and should not be used in place of advice from a doctor or suitable qualified healthcare professionals.

    This is a paid partnership between Independence Blue Cross and Philadelphia Magazine’s City/Studio

    Ice skating as exercise

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