How Strong Are Speed Skaters Actually? Insight into An Olympian’s Training Program
The 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics has been showcasing the elite of elite athletes. To peak at just the right time, all athletes must be in tip top form. Nevertheless, when it comes to raw speed and power speed skaters are in a league of their own. Speed skaters place more emphasis on strength and power than any other winter sport. So how strong are these athletes? This article will dive into an Olympic speed skaters training program and give insight to what it takes to be on the podium.
As Olympic speed skaters can reach speeds of 30 miles (48.28 km), no winter sport requires the lower body strength and power of speed skating. Most Olympic speed skaters need to be able to squat 2.5 times their own body weight. This means that a male speed speeding skater weighing 175 Ibs would be able to squat 437 Ibs, AMAZING! When it comes to the deadlift, male speed skaters aim to deadlift 2.7 times their bodyweight and females aim to deadlift 2.5 times their bodyweight. Being able to powerfully push through with primary use of the hips of most importance skaters place great emphasis on Olympic lifts, such as the snatch and clean & jerk (English, 2018). It is paramount for speed skaters to be extremely strong and powerful in lower body dominant functional movement patterning.
Being a speed skater is a full-time job. Athletes train and practice eight hours per day six days a week. Speed skaters train such extensive hours to condition their bodies to recover between repetitive rounds of racing. During competition speed skaters typically partake in six to eight races in a day separated by a 15-20-minute rest period. For conditioning purposes, speed skaters perform intense bouts of dryland skating. To strengthen the “lean” required for a powerful takeoff, speed skaters practice the “turn belt exercise”. This involves strapping a long belt around the skater’s waist and then have a partner hold the belt, adding substantial resistance. This type of vigorous training creates massive amounts of lactic acid build up in the lower body. 45-minute sessions of running are also performed three times per week and during the summer months it is not uncommon for trainers to prescribe 2-hour bike riding sessions twice per week (O’Connor, 2014). Training to be an Olympic speed skater takes a huge toll on their bodies as athletes must look deep inside of themselves to summon the will and courage to persevere through the sweat and tears to make it to the podium.
So, what to take home from all this insight from these master performers. What can we learn? Extraordinary achievements are built through extraordinary efforts. When we watch Olympians perform we are admiring the end result. However, we often overlook all the vigorous, long hours invested and sacrifices made by these athletes to rise to such an outstanding occasion. Speed skaters are arguably the strongest, most powerful, best conditioned athletes in the winter Olympics to accelerate to such outstanding speeds. However, like the rest of us, maintaining an unparalleled commitment and will to see things through can serve as catalyst for each of us to succeed with individual life goals.
English, N. (2018, January 26). How Much Do Olympic Speed Skaters Squat. Retrieved from barbend.com: https://barbend.com/olympic-speed-skaters-workout/
O’Connor, A. (2014, January 9). The Workout: Speedskating With Eddy Alvarez. Retrieved from nytimes.com: https://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/01/09/the-workout-speed-skating-with-eddy-alvarez/
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