When you’re skating, a collection of muscles throughout your hips and legs are responsible for propelling you forward. Muscles around your core contribute by controlling your torso and spine. How fast you can skate depends on the strength, power and size of these muscles. With strength training, you can build up these muscles and become a more explosive skater.
Hip and Leg Muscles
As you skate, your hip joint flexes and extends as you move your legs forward and back. The muscle responsible for hip flexion, or moving your legs forward, is your iliopsoas. Your gluteus maximus and hamstrings perform hip extension, or drive your legs backward. Your quadriceps, at the front of your thighs, straighten your knees as you push your skate off the ice or ground. Also, while you’re pushing off, the two muscles in your calves, the gastrocnemius and soleus, bend your feet in a toe-down motion at your ankle joints.
While it’s muscles in your hips and lower body that are doing most of the work when skating, your rectus abdominis, obliques and erector spinae muscles of the back are also heavily involved. Your rectus abdominis muscles help to lean your chest and stomach forward when skating, while your erector spinae muscles contract to support your spine and prevent you from bending too far forward because of gravity. Also, as you skate, your trunk rotates, which is due to contractions by your obliques.
To most effectively strengthen your skating muscles, use exercises that mimic the skating movement. Incorporate forward lunges, walking lunges and step-ups, which require you to step forward one leg at a time, to build your gluteus maximus, hamstrings, quadriceps, gastrocnemius and soleus muscles. For your iliopsoas, use cable standing leg raises, which require you to drive your leg forward and upward from a standing position like you do when skating.
Rather than perform exercises on a mat for your abs, opt for an exercise more specific to skating and develop your rectus abdominis muscle while standing with cable standing crunches. To build your obliques, add in cable twists, which challenge you to twist your torso against resistance, to your regimen. Target your erector spinae with hyperextensions.
Schedule two to three strengthening workouts every week so that your muscles are allowed one to two days off to fully recover in between each one. To build strength in your skating muscles, perform two to six sets of six or fewer reps and rest two to five minutes in between each set. To build size in your skating muscles, complete three to six sets of six to 12 reps of each exercise and allow 30 to 90 seconds in between sets. Use a weight that makes completing each set difficult. You’ll use a heavier weight when lifting for strength than you will when lifting for size. Before every workout, begin with a dynamic warm-up that consists of five minutes of light cardio, followed by 10 bodyweight squats and 10 bodyweight lunges to prep your muscles and neural system.
- Hockey Shot: Muscles Used for Skating (The Skating Anatomy)
- Skate Time School Programs: Physiology of Inline Skating
- National Strength and Conditioning Association: Strength, Size, or Power?
- ExRx.net: Lunge
- ExRx.net: Step-up
- ExRx.net: Cable Standing Crunch
- ExRx.net: Cable Twist
- ExRx.net: Hyperextensions
- ExRx.net: Cable Standing Leg Raise
- Georgia State University’s Department of Kinesiology and Health: Strength Training
- Photo Credit Comstock/Stockbyte/Getty Images
How to Compare the Benefits of Ice and Heat on Muscles
Ice and heat are the most beneficial treatments used for sore muscles. Ice therapy, or cryotherapy, is used to reduce swelling and...
How to Skate Faster
Speed matters when you chase down a hockey puck, hone a figure-skating routine, compete in speed skating or just want to keep...