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.
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.