from Professionial Skater Magazine - July/Aug 2014
'Sports Science' - Heidi Thibert
by Kat Arbour, PhD, MS, MPT, CSCS
Physical Demands of Competitive Figure Skating
When you watch a figure skating competition, you are seeing each skater’s “show-piece”, a performance lasting from 3 to 4.5 minutes, chock full of jumps, spins, lifts, and a whole host of other elements that can help the skater gain points from the judges. Great skaters make this look easy. But its not! By just 30 seconds into the performance, the athlete’s heart rate is at or above 90% of its maximum, and the athlete keeps working at this very high exercise intensity for the remaining 3 or 4 minutes! And jumps land with an estimated 8-10 times body weight, so skaters need strong and supple muscles to absorb very high jump landing impacts, and excellent anaerobic endurance to still be able to push at the end of the program.
What is the most effective way to train to be in the best possible condition for competition?
Peak training can only be maintained for 3-4 weeks at a time, not all year long. Skaters who strive to remain at a peak for too long will tend to mentally burn out and physically break down with overuse injuries. Therefore, for the health and well being of the skaters, it’s imperative to devise a plan that ramps and cycles the training in phase with the competition season. This is called periodization.
Periodization is a training map that lays out the course of training for the year.
It is simply a plan that varies with the different seasons of a sport to accommodate the specific goal of being in peak condition for a specific event / competition.
Three key points of Periodization:
- Training should be progressive.
- Training should progress towards a specific major competition to avoid peaking at the wrong time or under or overtraining.
- A good training plan requires vision, and the vision needs to translate into a daily workout plan that fits the skater. Some days it is hard to train, but if a big picture is clearly laid out, it makes the daily training easier.
Download the article in PDF form here: Periodization Is A Training Map