Experienced skaters know that there’s really no such thing as an “off-season” when it comes to figure skating, but there are a couple of months each year when you’ll have a break from competitions and can come down from the peak of your season. The biggest change between peak competition season and your off-season is the intensity and type of training you perform. Having a productive off-season is just as important as having a successful competitive run.
Typically, a skater’s off-season will last from late spring to early fall. Its this period where a skater will have the opportunity to focus on crafting new programs, building strength and agility, injury prevention, and cross-training to strengthen their bodies in order to perform at their best when competition season heats back up.
*Please note: All of the tips below should be modified for the age of the skater and the skater’s discipline. We do not recommend that younger skaters partake in overly strenuous training like weight-lifting without the assistance and approval of their parents and coach. Additionally, depending on your discipline (singles, pairs, or dance) you may want to either add or subtract some of the below exercises to your training plan. Discuss your training plan with your coach or trainer to find the right balance for you.
The off-season is the best time to target the muscle groups that support the fundamental movements of a skater’s life. Try implementing some of the exercises listed below to fully round out your strength training routine. Strength training can include free weights, bodyweight exercises, and machine weights to increase your ability to exert or resist force with the goal of preventing injuries and enhancing your skating performance.
The best strength training exercises:
- Heel Raises
- Bent-knee Deadlifts
- Bench Press
- Bent Rows
- Abdominal Crunches
- Cycle Crunches
- Back squats
- Upright Rows
- Front Push Press
- Behind The Neck Press
- Make sure that you are resting between each rep, a rest of 1-2 minutes is recommended.
- Try to perform 3-4 sets of exercises, with the exception of abdominal and torso exercise. Those can be performed with higher repetitions.
- You should be performing strength training 2-3 times per week for 50-60 minute sessions each time.
- Stretch before and after exercises
- Make sure to exercise your entire body, no skipping arm or leg day.
- US Figureskating has an excellent guide to strength training that you should check out
A common issue felt by most skaters is a tightness of the hip flexors. Common signs of tight hip flexors include pain and inflammation in the lower back and knees. Your hip flexors become stressed after hours spent on the ice with elevated heels and flexed spines. The graceful sloping curve of a skater’s back along with his or her pointed toes may look beautiful on the ice but can lead to some serious pain. With so much strain being placed on your spine and back muscles, it is common for a skater’s abdominal muscles to lengthen due to inactivity. For a normal person, performing the feats that a skater does on the ice would be well above their normal activity level, but a skater’s body is accustomed to much more physical demands. This just means that you’ll need to target your abdominal muscles with targeted strength train during the off-season to keep back pain away during competition season.
It’s important to train power and stability in equal parts. One without the other will lead to a short career. One of the most important core strength exercises a skater needs to perform in the off-season is flexing the spine and moving the pelvis and abdomen into a posterior tilt. By working both of these areas, you’ll gain a stronger core and prevent future injuries. A stronger core will also help you with your balance as well as assisting you with keeping a tight position in the air for jumping, controlling the center of your spin rotation, and maintaining upper body position during footwork such as stroking and crossovers.
The best core strength exercise to strengthen your core include:
- Leg Adductions
- Side Planking
- Vertical Leg Crunches
- Flutter Kicks
- Russian Twists
- Bicycle Kicks
Flexibility, Balance, and Musicality
No skater’s repertoire is complete without flexibility, balance, and musicality. In the off-season, it’s just as important to gain more flexibility, balance, and musicality as it is to strengthen your core and overall muscle tone. With this training, you can gain many valuable assets that you can use on the ice, such as better postures, longer extensions, presentation, and musical expression. Musicality means the understanding, interpretation, and expression of music. For some skaters, this can be the difference between silver and gold. When you skate, your performance plays a significant role in your overall score. Even with the biggest jumps and tricks, a good skater will round out his or her routine with rock solid musical expression and performance.
|The best flexibility training:
Dryland Rotational Jumps
Extended Reach Stretches
|The best balance training:
|The best musicality training:
- US Figure Skating has a fantastic guide for stretching, including warm-ups and cool-downs.
Hustler Harder In The Off-Season With Riedell
When the off-season comes, be ready for the change in your routine with Riedell. Whether you’re building muscle, toning skills, or increasing your flexibility, make sure that you discuss any changes to your training routine with your coach beforehand. Want to see how the pros handle their off-season training? Check out how Team Riedell keeps their skills sharp over on our blog where we discuss all things staking with some of today’s biggest coaches and skaters.