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Author Topic: How much strength training to stabilize spins and check turns?  (Read 577 times)

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Offline Query

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How much strength training to stabilize spins and check turns?
« on: January 03, 2017, 02:31:37 PM »
I've been skating for a total of about 13.5 years. I still cannot center spins consistently, nor can I check turns consistently, despite the best efforts of myself and a number of good coaches.

I've recently come to the conclusion that it is a matter of control and repeatability. In other words, if the motion always goes the same way, one can make consistent corrections to that motion to solve the problem. But it doesn't - sometimes I lean one way, sometimes the other, and so on. And as far as I can tell, repeatability is a matter of stabilization and strength. If you stiffen your body sufficiently, especially in your core, you can control its motions, and always do the same thing, making repeatable corrections possible. If, on the other hand, you stay too loose, then motions are inconsistent, and are therefore uncorrectable.

I've tried stiffening my body. But I'm not very strong. I can only do several sit-ups or push-ups, and can't do a pull-up at all. I no longer have the strength to get into or out of shoot-the-duck, though that is partly flexibility. Lifting 30 pounds is a strain. So a few weeks ago, I started strength training in a gym. I've hardly done any strength training before, and have a long ways to go. Progress is slow (I'm about 60), and I'm sure it will take somewhere between a few months and a few years.

I think I've wasted too much time in general trying to finesse things, and figure out tricks to make things work. I suspect that with strength, the need for finesse and tricks at least partly disappears. I should cut back on skate practice, until I have the strength to do things right, because it can't get much of anywhere until I do. If I'm right, coaches should have advised me to do this long ago.

If I'm right, it helps explain why athletic kids learn things like skating so quickly. They already do so much running and jumping and other athletic things, that they have strong muscles, relative to their body weights, and are able to stabilize themselves. They need little finesse and trickery, because they have the strength.

I've been working primarily on

1. Lower core (abdominal) muscles, using
  A. Leg presses, with both one and two legs
  B. Rotating the spine about the waist, in alternate directions, with and without weights
2. Upper core (shoulder height) muscles, using
  A. Assisted pull-ups
  B. Lifting hand-weights in all directions
  C. Rotating the spine at shoulder height
3. Middle core muscles. I'm having some trouble figuring out how to strengthen those, but so far I have
  A. Using a weight machine on which I sit and push up and back against weight, contact point below the neck
  B. Using a weight machine on which I sit and pull down and forward against weight, contact point below the shoulders
  C. Shrugging alternate shoulders up and down, while holding hand weights.
  D. Leg raises, in prone and supine position. I can't bring the leg all the way up, because of flexibility, but I do what I can.
4. Obliques.
  A. Twisting about the spine with a stretch cord under one foot, and the other end in the opposite hand.
5. Lifting things from the floor.
  A. I've just finished moving all my stuff out of my old place to live, mostly into storage. Now I need to gradually sort the stuff, and bring some of it to my new place.
  B. Maybe I should practice lifting other weights too, now that the pressure from the move is over.

I am following the advice of a physical trainer - that

1. To build strength, one should repeat an exercise to the point of "failure", where the muscles are physically unable to do another rep.
2. I am doing both high repetition, low weight, and low repetition, high weight versions, in the same session. E.g., do an upper body exercise in the high weight, low rep version, then a lower body exercise, than a middle body exercise. Stretch. Then do them all again in low weight, high rep versions. Stretch again.
3. To build strength, one must feel sore after the exercise session. The soreness should last into at least the start of the next day. I probably paid too much attention to over-cautious advice warning against DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness).
4. That one must stretch all the muscles that you strengthen, after the exercise, because strengthening shortens muscles.
5. Stretch often, 2 or more times a day. I definitely paid too much attention to over-cautious advice against stretching too often, which shouldn't apply to people like me whose muscles generally return to prior length in a day or less, and are unlikely to over-stretch ligaments and joint capsules, because my short muscles limit my range of motion to the point where ligaments and capsules aren't a problem.

My questions are:

1. Is my basic premise correct? Is repeatability and correctability best attained through muscle stabilization, and does one need a fair amount of core strength to achieve it?
2. Have I missed anything important? Other necessary exercises to obtain stabilization strength?
3. Since this will take a lot of time, how far do I need to go? E.g.,
  A. Clearly, to do decent sit spins, one must be able to both quickly and slowly go deep down and back up on one leg. So I will need to be able to do a fair number (8-10???) of full body weight single leg presses, and therefore at least 200% of my full body weight on double leg presses. Is that enough for good skating-related muscle stabilization? (One obviously needs considerably more for good jumps, but I'll leave that out for now.)
  B. Pull-ups clearly aren't part of skating, but they help with upper core muscle strength. For skating stabilization, should I be able to pull up against 70% of my weight? 100%?
  C. Fit males often lift similar height trim females, "on the threshold", and in social dance. A reasonably trim lady my height (5'4") might weight 100 pounds or a little more. Is 100 pound lift a good measure for good skating-related muscle stabilization for me?
  D. Other good measures?

Offline beginner skater

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Re: How much strength training to stabilize spins and check turns?
« Reply #1 on: January 04, 2017, 06:22:16 PM »
Alot of what you say makes sense, I think strength is going to be important, but so too is being able to isolate one movement or use a combination of movements, without distorting your body. Body awareness is important as well as strength. Core strength can also be improved by concentrating on your core and stabilising it during exercise. So you need to concentrate on good form

I understand that gym machines are rather out of favour.If you want to strengthen your legs, do functional multi muscle movements like squats with weights, either barbells, or dumbells, the latter being harder and requiring more stabilisation of the weights during movement.This will also work your core. Working up to one legged squats with weights seems likely to be far more helpful for sit spins than using a leg press

You do need to feel sore, thats a sign that bonds within the muscle have broken, they then reform resulting in the muscle being stronger.

WRT your questions about how much you need to do, I think the impact on your skating will give you better feedback than aiming at a particular weight.

Consistency in your equipment is also going to be important, so not going from blunt to sharp blades. And I dont know how much carpet underlay you have stuffed in your boots, and if  that varies the impact that changes in your foot orientation/pushes makes
 :D

Hope this helps, or at least gives you food for thought

Offline Jf12

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Re: How much strength training to stabilize spins and check turns?
« Reply #2 on: January 05, 2017, 04:35:51 PM »
It'll vary but a 'reasonably trim' 5'4 lady who isn't a teenager and has the muscle mass of an athlete might weigh more than she looks.. try 125-130.

Offline Query

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Re: How much strength training to stabilize spins and check turns?
« Reply #3 on: January 06, 2017, 06:12:40 PM »
I understand that gym machines are rather out of favour.If you want to strengthen your legs, do functional multi muscle movements like squats with weights, either barbells, or dumbells, the latter being harder and requiring more stabilisation of the weights during movement.This will also work your core. Working up to one legged squats with weights seems likely to be far more helpful for sit spins than using a leg press.

I get what you are saying. The trainer said that free weight and body weight exercises utilize your training time more efficiently, and I tried what I could.

But, body weight exercises (like squats) require you to have the strength to do them, for a fair number of reps, over the full range of motion you need, to be effective and efficient. I'm not there yet. I can't think of a free or body weight exercise that effectively trains the same muscles as assisted pull-ups - short of real pull-ups, which I'm not strong enough to do. Sure, something with stretch bands, but that is just a simpler machine - one which isn't as good at training the whole range of motion.

Maybe, at a later stage of my training, what you say will apply better to me.

It'll vary but a 'reasonably trim' 5'4 lady who isn't a teenager and has the muscle mass of an athlete might weigh more than she looks.. try 125-130.

Oh my! I'm not sure I could ever get there. No wonder pair skating males like small females.

But the main question is how strong I need to be to stabilize spins and check turns with high efficiency, and how to measure that strength.

Offline irenar5

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Re: How much strength training to stabilize spins and check turns?
« Reply #4 on: January 06, 2017, 09:09:46 PM »
Just throwing it out there:
Have you tried video-ing yourself?  Frequently what we THINK is happening with the body is actually not happening at all. 
For example, when I was learning the sit spin, I felt that I was really low in the knee.  Was I in for a surprise when I saw the video....!
Centering spins to me is less about pure strength, but being comfortable with the body lean on an edge.

Offline nicklaszlo

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Re: How much strength training to stabilize spins and check turns?
« Reply #5 on: January 07, 2017, 03:42:23 AM »
If you have difficulty lifting thirty pounds, you should probably do something about that for its own sake.  That sounds pretty inconvenient.  My skating equipment or my groceries weigh about that much, I guess. 

You might consider wall sits as an additional exercise.

C. Fit males often lift similar height trim females, "on the threshold", and in social dance. A reasonably trim lady my height (5'4") might weight 100 pounds or a little more. Is 100 pound lift a good measure for good skating-related muscle stabilization for me?

Sorry, no.  From experience, lifting the 90 pound lady (she was well below 5' tall) was really easy.  As Jf12 mentioned, a 130 pound lady is probably more typical.  I have found lifting those not to require all that much strength.  It takes me about ten "reps" to start to get tired.  Technique is needed though.  To put this in perspective, I still can't do a proper level B sit spin.  I think spins require far more strength and control than lifts.  You might have noticed pairs skaters put their lifts at the end of the program.  It's because they are easy.

I should add that skating lifts are performed with the leg, not the arms.