So, if you’ve been following the advice given in Fitness Series (1), you’ve been practicing your team’s try out daily, right? Even if you’re only managing a few days a week, you’re doing great. But if you’re like me, you want a bit more of a challenge (and a bit more intensity in a workout). 5 minutes a day is good, but to build up our strength, endurance, and ability on track, we need to train our bodies a bit harder. Still, exercises that provide flexibility in terms of time and committment are the most accessible to our busy derby (and real world) schedules.
Derby skaters have, and NEED, strong thighs to perform the feats of physical strength required of us in bouts. Derby stance is our go-to position, because it provides stability to take a hit and strength to give a hit. Targeted exercise that increases the strength, flexibility, and endurance of our thighs and glutes are the ones we should be choosing. Here are a few of my favorites:
1. The Frog/Frog Squat
I have been doing Kundalini Yoga for years. One of my favorite exercises is the deceptively simple Frog. Do not be lulled into a false sense of security by the Frog – I have been for 40 minute runs that give me less muscle stress than 20 Frogs. The key to a good frog is to make sure you’re doing it with proper form. Never continue an exercise if it puts stress on your knees. Keep your head up and your spine in alignment while doing the frog, and above all adjust the posture as needed. Keeping a bend to the knee instead of coming all the way up might not give you as much of a dynamic stretch, but it will continue to blast the quadriceps and hamstrings through the entire range of motion. Here is an excellently displayed instruction of the Kundalini Frog:
If that’s a bit too Hippy Chick for you, here is a modern adaptation of the Frog, called the Frog Squat. You will see the movement is much shorter and less fluid, but it also does blast those muscles.
2. The Burpee
The burpee is more of an all over body workout, but it is so adapatable that you can add more or take away more, truly encompassing an all-over body workout. Doing a burpee is difficult, doing 40 burpees might feel like it’s killing you. Focus on control and form here too – keep your head up and your shoulders back, keep your spine in alignment, and make sure you extend your legs all the way behind you.
The version demonstrated by Women’s Fitness and Health (linked) is the best and most basic form of burpee. It cannot be stressed enough that you should avoid bowing your back, as the stress on the lower back is the easiest way to injure yourself with this exercise. For beginners who find it difficult to jump back into the plank position, the tip about stepping each leg back will definitely help, and will build your strength and endurance for the rest of the exercise. More advanced burpees can include the jump up instead of the return to starting position, or the added Press Up (Push Up) while in the plank position.
3. Donkey Kicks
No doubt about it, your glutes are going to feel the Donkey Kicks. If you can manage to drop and do a few of these whenever you have a free minute, you will notice a difference in your strength and tone very soon. As you progress, add ankle weights to increase the effectiveness of this exercise. Also, make sure you engage your core muscles throughout in order to protect your lower back from swaying down and becoming strained.
4. Wall Sits
Ok, so DERBY STANCE, right? What better exercise to blast all the muscles required for derby stance than the Wall Sit? You work your core, your glutes, your quads and your hamstrings, and you’re working on muscle endurance the entire time. This is a fabulous, easy (ha!) exercise you can do at any time and in any place. All you need is your body and a wall.
The trick to Wall Sits is to try to build endurance. Day one, go as long as you can. If that is 10 seconds, fantastic! If it is 30, that is excellent! Then do them daily until you can build your endurance to a longer session. Your only competition is yourself. You can do this!
Fitness Series 3 will focus on Core Strengh (the dreaded abs!). I hope you are enjoying reading these as much as I am enjoying writing them. Also, I hope you’re getting some good ideas for ways to improve off-skates fitness, because lets be honest: we all need to!
Skate hard, Hit harder!