Sorry for the long post, but I think that this topic falls in line with a lot of your recent posts and articles, and would be applicable to a lot of other athletes (martial artists, for example).
Thanks in advance for any advice and ideas.
So, how do you build up leg strength and work capacity for an athlete with daily skill practice? For top performance, the athlete must become stronger, but also needs to be fresh enough for daily skill training that requires strength and work capacity.
Here’s the situation:
I am a former track and field athlete (decathlon), weightlifter (Snatch 122kg, Clean & Jerk 150kg) and Highland Games thrower who is now training seriously to become a competitive pairs figure skater.
As I moved from track and field more into weightlifting and throwing, my body weight went up (some muscle, but a lot of other extra weight).
I recently went through a couple of years of working through shoulder and knee issues, and then surgeries and rehab on both, so I experienced a significant amount of de-training from my previous peak lifting.
I am basically healthy now, and have been gradually increasing my skating and other training over the last year. Here’s my current training schedule:
Morning Weightlifting - about 5 times per week, 30 minutes, with two or three of the following: Hang Power Snatch, Front Squats, Romanian Deadlift, Push-ups, Ab Wheel.
Example recent workout - Hang Power Snatch - 8 sets of 3 with 110 pounds - Front Squat - Sets of 3 up to 245 pounds
Skating Practice - Daily - About 2 hours - Weekday afternoons, Saturday mornings.
Hill Running or Intervals - 2-3 times per week, after skating.
Example workout - 2 sets of 5 hills - 20 seconds running up, walk down
Afternoon or Weekend Upper Body Weightlifting - 2 times/week - Shoulder Rehab, Pressing, etc.
- To get to where I want to be (a competitive pairs skater), I will need to be able to do the following:
Skate for 2-3 hours per day. There’s no way around this requirement - there are just too many skills to master, jumps, spins, programs, etc. No amount of conditioning or off-ice work can substitute for actual time on the ice. In addition, all of this time needs to be spent working hard on elements/skills, so I need to be fresh enough and have the work capacity to keep working for this long (be able to work on sit spin or jumps even after two hours of skating).
Get body weight down to 200 pounds or less. I am currently about 230 with a good amount of muscle at a height of 6-0 and about 15% body fat. 200 pounds is probably the maximum I could weight and still be able to make the jumps. This would be a good size for a pairs skater, as I would not be limited to the only the tiniest of partners.
Increase strength and explosiveness while losing weight - Probably need to get front squat closer to double body weight to have enough strength and power for double (and hopefully triple) jumps, sit spins, and the pairs throws/lifts, with other lifts improving proportionately.
In addition to weightlifting and skating, be able to do regular off-ice jump training, plyometrics, hill sprints and intervals, dance/ballet work, stretching, and off-ice pairs throws and lifts.
So, how do I simultaneously build up leg strength and work capacity? I need to get significantly stronger, but can’t afford to have the legs trashed for the next day’s skating. Also, while there is some periodization (I won’t have any competitions for the next five months or so), I still have to be able to skate daily without too much of a drop in performance. I know how I would train if I was just competing in weightlifting, but adding the skating training on top of this makes it much more complicated.
The skating training itself is a tiring workout for the legs, but isn’t of sufficient intensity to drive the required increases in strength, strength-to-body weight ratio, and explosiveness. However, it is hard enough and long enough to cut into recovery from other work.
I am assuming part or most of the answer is in high-frequency training to gradually build up my work capacity and recovery, similar to what top weightlifters do. I have a squat rack, platform, and Olympic bar and bumper plates in my basement, so I can do morning and/or evening workouts. I have hills and a running track about a half-mile from my house, so could do those
type of workouts at whatever frequency necessary. I have a good work situation (computer work, short commute, no extra hours, close to the rink) and very few other commitments, so I have the time for training, but not necessarily the recovery ability (yet).
Any good ideas for an overall plan/progression/guidelines? I am willing to take a short-term performance hit (for several months) while adapting if it will lead to greater work capacity for lifting and skating in the future.
One strategy might be to do front squats every day, but keep the sets and reps low, with the weight medium heavy (sets of 3 working up to 80%).