*ATTENTION COACHES* Female Olympian Training

Anyone have any theories on why the female speed skater’s thighs are so muscular and huge? From my understanding you have to be powerful to compete on the 500m track, But when I seen an athlete profile on the CBC they showed these girls doing very light weights and eating sushi of all things. How are these girls so developped, yet so weak… and at the same time powerful? I’d apreciate comments from all interested, and in particular sport coaches. Thanks in advance.


They probably don’t have a huge max, but can do a huge number of reps at a given weight. In a Question of Strength column (I think that’s what it was) CP mentions that he tested Jud Logan (hammer thrower) & Marc Gagnon (speed skater) to see how many reps they could do with 85% of their 1RM. Logan did only 3 reps, while Gagnon did more than 200 (two hundred). I’d say the girls are the same way. If someone can do 200 reps with 85% or their 1RM, they’re not very neurally efficient, so they won’t have a huge 1RM & wonn’t be lifting huge weights. I’d say the girls are the same. There was a thing about Catriona LeMay-Doan on TV & the person said she got a bunch of prime Alberta beef sent to her condo in SLC, so I guess she’s a big time meat eater. The others probably are too & maybe the sushi was just aa snack.

Sushi is good athlete food: low fat, low carbs, high protein. Their sport provides plenty of resistance training too I’d guess. And maybe they were warming up when they showed them lifting, or maybe it was a GPP/active rest kind of day. Oh yeah, and they may be juiced up. :slight_smile:

“Anyone have any theories on why the female speed skater’s thighs are so muscular and huge?” This is kind of a chicken-and-egg type question. Are they huge because of their training, or are the ones with the huge thighs the ones who make it in that sport?

I’m sorry I didnt phrase it perfectly. What I meant to ask was how does endurance training, with what appears to be a high carb and relatively low protein diet produce such great muscular size? It seems to be exactly the opposite of what the entire bodybuilding community is doing.

I’ve gotta agree with brider. Playing basketball does not make you tall, but being tall is a huge advantage for NBA and college level basketball. Same thing with sprinting/speed skating. Having a huge proportion of fast twitch fiber is a must to be an elite speed athlete. Sure, their training improves on what they had genetically, but they picked their parents real well if they made it all the way to the Olympics.

When you saw them training with light weights they may have been focusing more on speed/power which is more important than strength for most athletic events anyway. I imagine most of those girls could show excellent demonstrations of strength in the weight room if they were taught correctly or motivated to but a lot of their muscle stimulation probably just comes from doing so much explosive skating along with genetics etc.

I think it’s the whole TUT thing (just like some of the others have said)…A large number of repetitions at a moderate-light weight equals a large Time Under Tension for the specific muscles used. Next time you do a quad/leg workout, finish it off with 5 to 10 minutes of moderate-speed rollerblading (using the Olympic style in terms of form - hunched over, full leg and hip extension). Your quads will be burning fo’sho!

superior genetics and the right drugs…

they normally have more receptors so they need fewer drugs to elicit a higher response than you or most definitely me.

Lots of explosive training coupled with excellent genetics for their particular sport. That, my friend, is their secret. And they may have been eating sushi that day, but do they eat sushi ALL of the time?

Cam, No doubt you will feel an incredible burn doing so. I’m not arguing that. Just like doing sets of 30 reps gives an insane burn. But we’ve been taught not to do high reps, because they dont lead to as much muscular growth… Really the motive behind this post is to help understand muscular growth. So many times we are thrown reasearch stats “proving” that short and infrequent workouts (NOT Mentzer style) produce best gains. The info usually seems to convince me at the time I read it. But what throws off all this information is seeing real world athletes who are very muscular and fit without following those guidlines at all. As a matter of fact many of them dont train heavy or intense at all. Their workouts seem to be using lighter loads then 70% max, and they tend to many hours a day (thats including drills etc.). I dont even want to go into the fact that they arent burning out lol… Anyways… thanks for the input guys.

My cousin is on the US team (skating the 1000, 1500, 3000 and 5000). She has told me that some of the women are quite strong (in the squat 225 for reps), but they do train explosively often. It seems that just the act of skating causes their legs to grow, similar to sprinters.

That’s my point – you’re not going to understand muscle growth from studying these women. They’re genetically selected for this sport by way of international competition. A lot of the time, these athletes are succesful in their sport IN SPITE of their training, not because of it. Just like learning about muscle growth from the roided out apes in the proBB circuit.

Good points, Roman…remember also that the muscles of the legs are usually affected by higher repetitions…thus the success of 15+rep squat programs. Plus, these skaters, depending on their event distance, will have different ratios of muscle fiber types as well. Perhaps what we may be seeing is extreme hypertrophy of TypeI fibers, with maybe a smaller influence from TypeIIA and B. It is a complicated issue, especially when discussing genetics and how they are expressed. All I know for sure is that ever since I’ve increased my TUT for my quads, they’ve grown like nothing else!

I’m not sure of how they train, but I can tell you that genetically women are gifted with larger quad muscles than men. Don’t take offense girls, it’s true! Combine that with explosive skating(training)for years on end, the results are seen… Kind of like sprinters and soccer players.

Saw the NBC coverage of the women’s 500m sprint last night, and they had one of those irritating “up close” pieces with the gold medal winner. It would be interesting to hear an interview with her maybe 4-6 years ago, because her voice on this interview said “steroids” to me.

She was the gold medal winner at the last winter olympics. And she participated in the olympics before nagano. She’s always sounded like that… As far as I’m concerned she sounds normal. I dont get the impression she is juiced at all.

Speed skating definitly benefits from ‘pharmaceutical helpers’, much like track and field (or is it an accident that the east germans have been dominant in this sport - yeah, yeah, more stereotypes :-). What about increased glycogen storage in the muscles. If speed skating uses mostly type IIa&b fibers (this is my hypothesis), performance would profit a lot from high glycogen levels.

Actually, I went to school with Lemay-Doan, and it’s taken her a long time to hit the level of development she’s at now. We’re not close friends, but I would be very surprised if she were on anything. Doping control in Canada is insane. Unannounced random tests at least 6 times each year. As far as strength levels go, I’ve seen female speed skaters in the elite weight room at the Calgary oval breaking parallel with 405 for reps, so I really don’t think ‘weak’ is a very good description.