6 Reasons Why Strength Training for Figure Skaters is Important

I have had the good fortune of working with a number of figure skaters. Occasionally, parents of children who I do not coach will ask me about the benefits of strength training for figure skaters. Below are the 6 reasons I cite for getting figure skaters involved in strength training.

1) Strength training will eliminate imbalances and correct tracking issues which will decrease injury – for example, a weak vastus medialis will cause the patella to track laterally due to a muscular imbalance with another primary knee extensor, the vastus lateralis.  The issue is that the lateralis is usually tight due to daily active living and can cause the patella to track improperly without a strong vastus medialis to act as a stabilizer in opposition.  This can cause an imbalance and resultant tracking problem which can, in turn,  lead to pain and possibly injury due to poor biomechanics from an improperly functioning knee joint. 

Sandring, S. (2005).   Grey’s Anatomy.  Spain: Elsevier Churchill Livingston.

2) Strength training will aid the body in injury prevention.  It can prevent misalignments of muscles and reinforce correct muscle patterning in biomechanics.  Strong hamstrings aid in structural balance of the posterior aspect of the knee.  Due to the hamstrings actions on the knee, the biceps femoris performs a lateral rotation of the tibia when the knee is semi flexed and the semitendinosis performs a medial rotation of the tibia when the knee is semi flexed, improving strength within the hamstrings will reduce the possibility of shearing or twisting injuries of the knee joint. Strong glutes are essential to help reinforce any movement the hamstrings make and in addition help steady the femur on the tibia which aids in landing, for figure skating in particular.

Kendal, F.P.,  McCreary, E.K., Provance, P.G., Rodgers, M.M., Romani, W.A. (2005).  Muscles Testing and

Function with Posture and Pain.  Baltimore:  Lippincott Williams and Wilkins.  

3) Strength training improves neurological control which can improve both gross motor movements – jumping – and fine motor movements – the subtle footwork that the judges are looking for. This control becomes more and more important as a skater advances through the senior and elite levels given the complexity of the tasks and skills they need to perform. Improved proprioceptive awareness will also accompany these increases in neurological abilities allowing a skater to develop their “ice sense”.

4) Strength training makes tasks that are difficult today easier in the long run. By increasing strength and skill an athlete will be able to progress to more difficult jumps because they are able to jump higher, rotate faster and stick landings with more ease. If we take the 1 arm brace press as an example (a standing 1 arm DB shoulder press where the free arm is extended to the side and bracing the body) there are a number of ways this strength movement can improve figure skating performance. For example, it will improve core stability as there is an isometric contraction of the oblique muscles to hold the body stable. It improves shoulder strength which has been shown to improve vertical jumping and improve forward arm drive that is needed to build momentum for starting rotations. While these things will improve through skating alone, the rate of improvement will be increased though progressive strength training.

5) Completing difficult endurance or strength sets will improve mental toughness and can make skating feel easier. Anything that makes a tough task seem easier will boost an athlete’s confidence which will improve their on-ice performance and make skating more enjoyable. Knowing that they have a strong, well balanced body will eliminate doubts of this nature from the mind of a skater … and believing that they can is the first step in doing something.

6) Being stronger will improve soccer, sprinting, athletics (track and field), volleyball, etc…. performance. It will also make everyday activities easier. The reason for this if very simple – strong muscles produce more force when they contract so you will need to recruit fewer fibers to produce the same force. This will translate into faster running, higher jumping, and easier lifting.

For further details about our strength training program please email me at bskinner@sstcanada.com

For more information and access to great articles and videos please visit www.sst.training

Recipe: Tilapia, Watercress & Mango Salad

Tilapia, Watercress & Mango Salad

25 min prep time. Serves 4 people.
Course Dinner
Cuisine Mediterranean
Total Time 25 minutes
Servings 4 People

Ingredients

  • ¼ cup plus 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 4 tilapia fillets
  • 1 table spoon chili flakes or to taste
  • Pinch salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
  • ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 6 cups watercress with thick stems removed
  • 1 mango diced
  • ½ medium red onion thinly sliced

Instructions

  1. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Season the tilapia with a pinch of salt, pepper and chili flakes and cook for 1-2 mins each side or until opaque.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk the lime juice, honey, ginger, red pepper, ¼ cup olive oil and salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Pour the dressing over the leaves and gently toss in the mango, onion and place cooked tilapia fillets on top.

Squat Depth: How low should I go?

The squat is one of the most well known, if not the most well-known exercise for developing lower body strength. One of the age-old questions in the athletic community and strength and conditioning world is how low should I go? This post aims to delve into this topic and provide insight into how low one should go when squatting.

            Early research into the squat suggested that with increased knee bend there was increased stress on the knee joint and while this is partially true (as tibiofemoral and patellofemoral compression increases with increasing knee angle), the maximal mean peak shear forces reported are much lower than the patellar and quadriceps tendons can withstand, and therefore while these forces increase with squat depth, they are within ranges that would tend not to significantly damage these tissues in an healthy individual. Furthermore, peak anterior shear forces occur from 0 – 60 degrees of knee flexion, making the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) most susceptible at this range, and these forces decrease with increased squat depth. Posterior shear force begins at 30 degrees flexion, with peak forces reported at 90 degrees of knee flexion and decreasing below 90 degrees of flexion. Therefore, while it is true higher forces exist at greater knee flexion, deep squats decrease stress on the ACL and PCL compared to partial squats of 90 degrees knee flexion or less.

            While the knee joint is the most commonly addressed joint when talking about squat depth, the loading mechanics of the spine also come into question. It has been shown that with increased forward lean, forces on the lumbar spine are increased. Furthermore, in lumbar flexion or excessive lumbar extension we also see these forces increase with the squat. In terms of the effect of squat depth on the spine, if a neutral lumbar spine and forward gaze can be maintained this is more important than squat depth itself. Furthermore, it appears front squats and low bar back squats provide less stress on the spine than high bar back squats.

            When we look at muscle activation, deep squats tend to activate hip musculature more than partial squats, so if we are trying to maximize the strength of our hip musculature (including our most powerful hip extensor gluteus maximus) deep squats with a wider stance and feet slightly turned out (anatomical position) are preferred, as partial squats up to 90 degrees maximize quadricep activation.

Overall there are many benefits to deep squats, but this is only if we can perform deep squats with proper form and technique. Likewise, there may be some scenarios where deep squats are contraindicated such as those with previous PCL injuries or patellofemoral disorders. Furthermore, squat depth should be consistent with individual goals and proper technique and execution needs to be maintained. Individuals should seek advice of an exercise professional on squat technique and should have an assessment done to find what is right for them in their exercise program. However, if you can squat to depth below 90 degrees it seems to be beneficial to athletic development and may even be less stressful on supporting structures.

Note – Information in this article is based off the brief review titled “Squat Kinematics and Kinetics and Their Application to Exercise Performance” Brad J. Schoenfeld published in 2013 the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. Access this article here: https://journals.lww.com/nsca-jscr/Fulltext/2010/12000/Squatting_Kinematics_and_Kinetics_and_Their.40.asp

Maxfit 44 program

If you’re a man over the age of 40, your body is issuing you an ultimatum:

Get lean and fit or face accelerated aging, weight gain, diminished sex drive, declining energy, chronic diseases like osteoarthritis, chronic low back pain, diabetes, and other problems.

Ever notice that most elite athletes retire from competitive sports in their late 30s? There’s a reason for this, the male body starts to age more quickly. But you can reverse the aging process with nutrition and strength training.

Part of the reason for this accelerated process is the diminished production of our hormones Testosterone and Growth hormone. Testosterone is the hormone that makes us men. It gives us our strength, our drive, and our character.

However testosterone production declines with age in men. This results in decreased serum levels of total and bioavailable testosterone, leading to a decrease in energy, muscle mass, and bone mass. This also leads to an increase in body fat levels, depression, and a variety of disease. Growth Hormone is the hormone that stimulates growth and cell division. The average bodily decline in growth hormone production is 1.25% per year, or 14% per decade for a man of normal body weight. If we add in the elevated body fat levels the growth hormone production is further compounded because body fat itself tends to decrease HGH secretion.

However it does not have to be this way, with a properly designed strength and nutrition program we can halt or even reverse this process, to become the strong virile man we used to be.

MaxFit 44 offers you an opportunity to answer the ultimatum your body is issuing.

We provide a customized nutrition plan and strength training program that will allow you to meet your fitness goals. Based on cutting edge scientific research and accurate assessment of your body composition we will design a program for weight loss, improved vitality, and enhanced sports performance (other goals?).

This is not your normal group exercise program. There are no dance moves to learn, no irritating music and no endless boring cardio exercises.

We offer low instructor, client ratios and select only exercises that will make you stronger and more powerful.

Why would you choose a group exercise program vs. individualized training or working out in isolation? Cost and results. Working out in a group setting is less expensive than working out with a trainer in a one on one basis but with the shared benefits of group accountability. Studies indicate that people work harder when they believe that others are watching them. This increase of intensity when paired with proper exercise selection and movement form will yield results that are up to 80% better in half the time.

When you factor in the nutritional program, you have an unbeatable approach that is going to make you look and feel better than you ever have in your life. Better yet is that by learning WHAT and HOW to eat, you will be able to stay lean and keep your muscular appearance while the rest of your friends continue their age related decline. Discover the benefits of MY BLUEPRINT NUTRITION

You can’t stop your body from aging but you can control how it looks as it ages. Get back in the drivers seat and recapture the vitality of your youth.

MaxFit 44 will change the way you look, feel and think about your health for the rest of your life. You deserve to be the best you can be.

ACT NOW!

JOIN OUR NEXT 12 WEEK PROGRAM!

Come in for a free demo class.

Why Increase Your Omega 3 Intake?

I keep hearing about good fats and why I should be taking them. If I took good fats wouldn’t I just become fatter and what are the true benefits? Also, what are Omega 3 fats?

Grant N.

 

Hey Grant, that’s a great question and one that I hear regularly. First let’s get an understanding of fats. Fatty acids can be broken down into two main categories- Saturated and Unsaturated. These two can be broken down into sub-categories as well, such as monounsaturated and polyunsaturated. Fatty acids are made up of the number of carbon atoms and hydrogen molecules they can hold. All fats have a combination of these with one being predominant.

Fat is necessary for good health. Deficiencies of the so called “Good Fats” can cause health consequences. Good Fats can be described as Omega 6 or Omega 3. Omega 6 fats are highly consumed in our diet relative to Omega 3. The ratio is up to 20:1 whereas it should be more of a 1:1 ratio. Here at SST, we like to put our athletes on higher dosages of Omega 3 fats. There are 3 types of Omega 3- ALA (found in flaxseed oil, hemp seed oil and walnuts) Docosahaexaenoic (DHA) and Eicosapentaenoic (EPA) which are found in fish and fish oils. ALA is essential but does not convert well so I like to recommend fish oils to our athletes. Our brains are made up of 60% fat. DHA is one of the most important fats for the brain and it is sometimes called “brain food”. All omega 3 fats also help with the anti-inflammatory process of the body as well. As well, a higher intake of Omega 3 leads to fat loss. This is usually the first supplement I add to our athletes’ diets when they come into the SST Centre.

Fish Oil can have benefits for the body with the following medical problems:

Cancer

Arthritis

Stroke

Colitis

Chronic fatigue syndrome

As mentioned I prefer a high dose of fish oils for my athletes depending upon their body fat levels – from 9-15 grams per day! I like to use reputable companies that use higher grade fish oil such as Metagenics, Genestra, Organika, Life Extension and my good friend Charles Poliquin’s in-house brand. I instruct my athletes to take their fish oils with every meal. A good trick to help avoid burping up fish a taste is to keep them in your freezer.

Grant I hope this helps you understand Omega 3 oils a bit better!

Good luck with your training and nutrition! If you want more info regarding all Women’s Fit and Lean Program or Men’s Maxfit please contact your community SST

Preseason Football Conditioning

This is a touchy subject were the old school meets the new school! Football is a sport where you play 4-6 seconds at a time, yet strength coaches sometimes see the need for athletes to only “condition” doing 100 yard sprints and gassers! This really doesn’t make sense at all! Conditioning for Football should be done anaerobically, meaning; short fast bursts. Below I will list some of my personal favorites that we have used over the years!

Competitive Sprints  – 10 YARDS ONLY. Make the athlete get from one spot to another as fast as they can, then give 25 seconds of rest. My favorite is to use a football fields, every other 10 yards we work. So we get five sprints for the length of the field, this mimics a drive and wont kills your guys.

Wave Drill – (Forward/Lateral/Backward) This one is old school, but it works! Make your athletes work for 5-6 seconds. Give them three different commands then make them burst for 2 steps on the way out of the drill.

Back Pedal + Turn – One of my personal favorites! Starts all your athletes in a back pedal then use a visual key to make them turn 180 degrees and sprint for 5 yards! This is great for DB’s and OL’s, I use this every chance I get.

Mirror Drill – Another old school throw back. This is great when you’re working with the whole team at once. Have two athletes work in a five yards box, one in the rabbit the other one is chasing try to stay in front. Only make them go about five seconds!

The most important part of conditioning in my opinion is to get your athletes the stamina experience in the type of job they are ask to do when the lights are on. There is no point asking an OL to do 100 yards sprints, because he would never do that in a game. Athletes need to be trained smart, not for your EGO!

Contrast Training for Speed and Power

Here at SST Burlington we are big fans of everything power and speed! One type of training that we use with our athletes to help them achieve results is contrast training, a form of complex training. This type of training involves alternating a set of resistance exercise with a set of plyometrics or speed drill.

This type of training is a more advanced style that we use with athletes who have a great deal of basic strength and training experience. This style of training works to help advance the force/velocity continuum characteristics of our athletes, by working both ends of the force/velocity curve at the same time. The increase in speed and power from this type of training is derived from a concept called post-activation potentiation, that improves muscle function. Why this is important to us and our athlete’s is that the methods we use are backed by scientific evidence, but more importantly get our athletes great results!

Compared to regular resistance training, a recent meta-analysis has identified contrast training as more effective than regular resistance training for improving speed and counter movement jump, a great indicator of athletic power (Pagaduan et al. 2019, J. Strength Cond. Res.).

Though this type of training is great, we use a variety of different training modalities at SST Burlington to help our athletes get results, and while this is a great form of training it takes a great coach to identify what you personally need to improve performance for your sport.

Come check us out at SST Burlington, and our summer High Performance Camp to help you get results this summer and improve your speed and power for your sport!

Come in for a FREE demo with our MaxFit class!

To book please email us at sst@sstcanada.com and we’ll get you scheduled for your demo.