Tag Archives: weight lifting

The Stall…

That is just sort of where life is at the moment.  Stalled.  Training is at an abrupt halt, except for the body weight Bulgarian Split Squats I do with my office chair at work at my standing desk.  As we are settling in to life here, training of all kinds is on the back burner in favor of keeping the kids alive and staying on top of work.  I did acquire a new barbell that I am looking forward to reviewing in the near future.  Beyond that, I haven’t meaningfully skated in a couple of months.  With the weather getting colder and indoor practices now only being on Sundays, I don’t anticipate inline skating until the spring.  I may get to ice skate around Christmas, though.  This is where training and fitness are right now, though:  Stalled.  I am planning for the future, and that will probably never stop.  Until then, the new garage gym is outdoor and gets take apart after every use.  My programming is pretty limited, power cleans, front squats, hack squats, dead lifts and Romanian dead lifts.  It is grip intensive.  The new bar is very helpful with that, though, as the knurl just sticks to your hands.

the stall

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Changing Cycles…

Seeing as it has been a quarter since my last post, and seeing as we are walking into the start of the outdoor inline season, I thought it was time to post here again.  Really, life has been kind of hectic.  We went to Hawaii over Christmas in 2014, meaning I got to skate outdoor in 70+ F weather on Christmas.  That was pretty cool.  After that, I spent a lot of time being busy around the house, taking care of our toddler, and eventually helping to take care of a newborn.  With two kids and a lot of personal and family changes on the horizon, this outdoor season looks to be a bit of a transition year.  Regardless, I am already skating outside, which means it is time to get fitness focused on my races this year.

First, I currently plan on attending the Chicagoland Inline Marathon and the NorthShore Inline Marathon this year.  If the stars align, I might be able to make it to the Minnesota Half, but right now I do not expect that to be a possibility.  With a truncated race schedule, this presents the opportunity to have a more focused early season build phase for training.  As such, as I am considering how best to organize my training for this season, I am taking this opportunity into consideration.

Before digging into the details of the training plan for this season, though, I want to review the off-season.  I had a couple of specific goals beyond what was mentioned in a previous post.  Specifically, my goal was to add 15 pounds to my heavy lifts before the start of this inline season.  My goal was to rear squat 200 lbs. and dead lift 250 lbs.  I hit those marks at the end of March, pretty much right on schedule.  Beyond these goals, though, I spent a lot of time on the slide board, but not enough time on the bike.  As a result, my lack of cardiovascular fitness reared its head while I visited Team Rainbo last weekend for the last team indoor training session of the year.  Even skating on wheels that have seen a lot of miles outdoor, I was able to push the pace, but didn’t stay with the pace line because I didn’t feel like I had enough grip to not be a danger to everyone else in the line when pushing deep in the corners.  What stood out, though, was the diametrically opposed burning chest and spry legs.  Lifting heavy has been good this off-season, but I didn’t get enough cardio.  Slide board and jumping on boxes alone isn’t enough.  I wasn’t consistent enough about spending any kind of time on the bike this winter, and that is something I absolutely must fix for next year.  This notwithstanding, my early season skates have been slightly faster on average than at the start of last year, but I haven’t been quite as efficient, meaning my heart rate is a little higher than my similar work outs this time last year.  I feel stronger, though, and that helps the mental game.

As we transition into the season, though, it is time to change training cycles. This transition will implement some of the things I learned after last year, like maintenance weight lifting needs to be in the schedule during the season.  Going back to weight training during the off season in 2014, proved to be more challenging than it should have been, requiring a 35 pound deload before building up to a 15 lbs. personal best on all my lifts in March.  I lost too much in that time period, and I hope to preserve these new personal bests through the season so that is my starting base weight in the fall.  While there is one day of weight training built into the schedule, I expect to also use it as an occasional rest day, since you maintain strength gains longer than cardiovascular fitness gains.  I have a lot of rebuilding to do with cardiovascular fitness, but that will eventually come back, too.  The season of technique last year also proved helpful, so I am planning on dedicating a day for the first month of the season to work on technique, using cone and double push drills from the Mantia Clinic last year.  So, this is what the outdoor training schedule will look like this year:

  • Mondays:  Maintenance weights
  • Tuesdays: an easy recovery skate
  • Wednesdays:  Cone Drills and intervals
  • Thursdays:  longer intervals and/or hill skates
  • Friday:  a recovery skate
  • Saturday:  Long Tempo Skate, and
  • Sundays:  Long Trail skate in the afternoon

Hopefully, this will maintain my strength baseline and build my cardio back to where it was toward the end of last year.  This plan will change a little bit once we get to June, as I will likely cycle out the technique day for more intervals, hills, or duration skating sessions.  Regardless, with only two races in the relatively distant future, patience will be necessary.

 


Do you even lift??

Admittedly, the title of this post pokes fun at bro-science (see also), but the post itself has a serious point:  lifting weights as cross-training for speed skating.

In the last couple of years, I have been in off-season situations where there wasn’t a good replacement sport for inline speed skating.  Generally, this is because I lived in locales where long track or short track ice speed skating weren’t viable options, or because the indoor inline skating options are limited for speed skating.  Life also tends to get in the way, as it does for many non-professional (read “I don’t work out for a living”) athletes.  As a result, I have always looked for a way to spend my time in the off-season that will benefit my on-skate time during the summer months.  In addition, I was looking for options for building strength and power that would support my speed skating and, ultimately, make me stronger.  The answer was lifting weights.

When I talk about lifting weights, I am talking about any kind of resistance program that will help with skating.  For me, right now, that is predominately barbell training.  Historically, it has also included dumbbell training, and body weight training.  Previously, I lifted to get stronger, simply doing lifts that would result in greater physical strength.  I have noted in previous posts that part of the point of weight lifting for speed skating is to put more power in the push.  The idea here is that the more strength your legs have, the harder you can push.  I have been experimenting and researching this idea for a little over a year now, and I can affirmatively say that lifting heavy stuff is good for skating.

Other endurance athletes know that lifting weights is good trainingRecent research supports these ideas.  Just because it is good for cyclists, though, doesn’t make it it good for skaters.  However, for a lot of reasons, it is true with skating.  Lifting weights helps with the economy of movement, which I examined in my last sports science post.  The idea here is you aren’t working as hard to get as much power transfer into the implement of forward movement.  For time on the bike, more push power in the legs against the pedals means you can maintain power for longer, or exert less energy for the same power as previously.  For skating, economy in this context means more power to the ground with less effort.  While there are a host of other factors involved here, notably technique, having the strength to push into the ground is one of the major components of skating.  That is, after all, why skaters have those noticeably larger butts and thighs.  Lifting weights with a focus on speed skating will help build those butts and thighs so you can leverage your technique and put more power to the ground.

So, should you lift?  It sure sounds like it.  Now we know why, the next question is how?  My answer to that query is however you like that will get you stronger.  Joey Mantia says he doesn’t lift weights, but prefers isometric body weight and plyometric exercise to build strength and power.  He can also do a wall sit for something like 10 minutes (his own estimation from the Minnesota Mantia Clinic).  He isn’t alone, Chad Hendrick and Shani Davis have also stated they don’t lift weights in interviews.  However, Apolo Ohno lifts, and so do a lot of other speed skaters, like Sven Kramer and Kevin Jagger.

I lift a barbell.  I find that barbell training works well for me.  It may not work well for others, so consult your coach or your doctor to make sure it is something you can do, and do safely.  My current favorite lifts are rear squats, power cleans, dead lifts, and Romanian dead lifts.  All of these exercises target the posterior chain, basically the muscles from your upper back through your heels.  These are also a vast majority of the muscles used in skating.  I mix these up with other exercises for power (like kettle bell swings), and upper body (like dips).  Another change that I made this year was training specifically for power.  I lift faster with a little more volume in my lifts, while still focusing on good form to build more powerful muscle.  The goal here is explosive lifting.  This should sound a lot like plyometrics, another terrific way to build power for skating.  In addition to lifting, I am still cross training with steady state cardio and plyos with some dry land and slide board, because you can’t neglect the skate specific stuff for cross training without losing out on skating performance.

If you are wondering about programming, you could do just those four exercises above, but you would end up a bit uneven.  This is why I have incorporated some upper body work in my strength training this year, notably over head presses and dips.  For basic lifting, consider Strength Camp’s big four, front squats, dead lifts, dips, and pull ups.  If there is interest I can share more about how I am presently programming my strength training.

So, do you even lift?  If not, maybe you should be.


Off-Season 2014-2015, Get At It!

The NorthShore has passed, my chest cold thing is finally gone, I have skated maybe three times, the race wheels have been put away until next year, and now we have nothing to look forward to but the long, cold, dead Minnesota winter.  There is a reason, besides keeping warm, Russians drink heavy.  If I lived in Siberia and had to look at that much snow, cold, and ice as that climate is known for, I would be driven to excessive consumption of alcohol also.  But, all of this time stuck indoors with not a lot to do means plenty of time to lift heavy stuff, binge watch bad TV while spinning on the bike, and think about whether I have enough clothes to keep warm while trying to ice skate.  That is pretty much what my off-season will look like.  Until the cold really sets in, I plan to try to skate on the weekends.  The sun sets too early to permit skating during the week right now.  As a result, training for next season starts right now, because your off-season is what makes or breaks your race season.  So, here is the plan:

After considering what I did for off-season last year, it wasn’t sufficiently structured, and my goals for working out during the week were based on an otherwise hectic life schedule.  This year promises to permit a lot more focus in my work out schedule.  Through the end of the year, I am going to continue to skate as much as possible, but realistically this will only last a couple more weeks until I convert my on-skates time to ice or indoor rink sessions/practices.  Since this will occur mostly on the weekend, that leaves me with 4-5 week days to fill with some training. Weight lifting provided some big gains for me over the last two years.  This was accelerated after I switched to an Olympic weight lifting set and built squat stands.  My goal is to get 3 days of lifting during the week from now until the middle of January, lifting heavy and adding weight weekly to every lift.  Every 4 weeks, I am going to deload, and give myself a rest to avoid overtraining.  I ended the off-season lifting 235 for my Dead Lifts and Romanian Dead Lifts and lifting 185 on my squats.  This year, I am going back to some older lifts and adding some new ones.  I am also changing up the way I am lifting.  Pat of the goal this year is to build power in addition to base strength.  One way of doing this is adding tempo to your lifts, or basically performing the lifts faster.  I am going to deload a bit at the start, and increase the pace of my lifts with the goal of adding power training to my base strength training, and, just maybe, spend a little less time lifting.  I am hoping to do the following three day schedule each week:

Day 1:

A1 Rear Squats
A2 Poliquin Step Ups
A3 Splits Squats

B1 Dead Lifts
B2 Romanian Dead Lifts
B3 Kettle Bell Swings (Set of 10)

C1 Core

Day 2:

A1 Over Head Press
A2 Curtsy Squats
A3 Power Cleans

B1 Barbell Row
B2 Weighted walking lunges (12 to 14 reps)
B3 Glute Bridges with Stability Ball

C1 Core

Day 3:

A1 Rear Squats
A2 Poliquin Step Ups
A3 Kettle Bell Swings (Set of 10)

B1 Dead Lifts
B2 Romanian Dead Lifts
B3 Dips

C1 Core

As you can see, it is a mix of standard lifts with some Olympic power lifting and, shockingly, some upper body work.  I am learning how important posture is to overall fitness, and seeing that I sit for 8+ hours a day at the office, I thought it would be good to add some upper body exercises to balance out my build.  These lifts are also, largely, compound lifts, meaning they work a lot of different muscles at the same time.  My goal will be to do 2 rounds of each super set, then follow it up with core work, likely P90X Ab Ripper X, because it hits everything in the core.

Aside from weights, I am planning on spending a lot of recovery time on the bike, grinding away on my heart rate Zone 2 target rides.  The gola here is base cardiovascular fitness, something that gets neglected over the winter months.  Beyond that, I am developing an off-skates program that will include plyos, dry-land drills from the Mantia Clinic, and slide board.  Ideally, I will take one to two days off per week.  I hope it will make for a productive off-season.


Training Updates and Future Posts

I have been rotating between working out in the basement during the week and skating on the weekends, when the weather permits.  It has been a wet and windy spring here once the cold finally broke.  I have been able to skate at least once, sometimes twice, every weekend since mid to late April.  After my VO2 Max test in April, I did a lot of research about cardiovascular capacity, particularly material written by Joe Friel, and decided to significantly change my early season base training.  I mentioned in my last post that I was going to spend a lot more time working on base cardiovascular fitness, and, as a result, many of my recent training sessions that are not focused on weight lifting or skating have been extended duration cycling sessions with my bike in the trainer.  In addition to being a great way to build base cardiovascular fitness, it also helps me get caught up on television I don’t otherwise have time to watch.  I am averaging 2 of these sessions per week.  My weight lifting program has changed, also.  Like last year, heading in to race preparation phases, I tend to focus a lot on cardiovascular training.  When I made the transition last year, I took some of the weight lifting program into a joint plyometric program where I would do a super set of lifts followed by a super set of plyos.  I am doing some thing similar this year, but with a different target for my lifts.  Rather that focusing on split squats or Poliquin squats, I am hoping to build power by mixing power cleans, rear squats, dead lifts, and Romanian dead lifts with tuck jumps, split jumps, single leg jumps, super skaters, and box jumps.  I do this work out one day per week, and spend the rest of my training time on the bike or on skates.

Skating seems like it is going well.  The weekends have worked out so that the weather is manageable, though we have had some very windy days.  Slow skating is good experience, and it builds strength.  I am noticing deficiencies in my technique, and I am climbing a lot of hills.  I hope this will yield good results as I move into a training phase with a lot more skating.  So far, my average speeds have increased over last year, some of them by more than 1 mile per hour, which is a considerable jump from the end of one race season to the start of another.  I think weight lifting has helped considerably in this regard.

Starting this weekend, training changes again.  I am going to continue lifting weights, but I am planning on deloading, basically making my weight lifting maintenance work outs meant to insure that I am not losing anything.  I may slowly creep the weight back up, but I find that the delayed onset muscle soreness after really heavy lift days results in restricted training on skating days.  Skating volume is going to seriously increase.  This year, I am focusing on technique and trying to get every bit of power from my legs to the ground.  The hope is that this increase in efficiency will result in faster marathon times.  I am hoping to skate at least 4 times per week, with one day being a technique focus, one day an interval focus, and the other two longer skates that mix aerobic HR zone training and longer distance tempo skating.  I need to climb a lot of hills, also.  I plan on reviewing the data from the last Chicagoland Inline Marathon race to see where I struggled with the hills and see if I can keep up with the main pack this year.  All I want to do is keep up with the main pack and not get dropped.  If I can stay in the pack and avoid pulling, I should be able to keep pace for the entire race, or, at least, I hope to.  The key to this course, though, are the hills, and making sure you can climb hill after hill without losing the rest of the group.  I see a lot of time climbing the mountain-esque hills on Country Club Road in my future.

With all of this training going on, I am hoping to post more videos than I have been lately.  Also, I am going to have some posts that combine a lot of the research I have been doing on cardiovascular capacity detailing how inline speed skaters can learn from other endurance athletes and how these training theories can be applied to inline skating.  I hope it will make for some interesting reading.  This weekend, I am skating with Team Rainbo, and will shoot video of the Saturday practice to post next week.  For anyone who isn’t yet, Spring has sprung, get out and skate!