Training Principles Part 3 : Strength Training


Training Principles Part 3 : Strength Training

Strength training is essential. Many books have been written and studies have been done on the benefits. For a speed skater, strength is essential. The benefits are numerous. I train very hard at developing my strength, which produces huge benefits. As a young man, I did weight training, but not as much as I do now. Strength training enhances and improves everything. One benefit is that I am a better runner because I am stronger; I run with better economy and efficiency, I play tennis better, swing a golf club better, etc.

Because of strength, I am able to apply my leg strength to the ice through a very strong core without compromising my lower back or being prone to injury. Strength and weight training has also helped me develop stronger connective tissue and bones. This helps to prevent injuries.

My strength work is one weight workout per week. I do about a dozen different exercises. I do three for my legs. Leg press, squeeze (adduction) and hamstrings for my legs and that is a leg press machine. The rest is for core and upper body. I no longer use free weights. The chance of injury is high, and the benefit from free weights is negligible. I use machines that have a cam system that distributes constant stress through the full range of motion of the joint I am working. I do one set of 6 reps to failure. For example, on the leg press, I will extend up from the starting position of a 90-degree knee bend to almost straight in 10 seconds, then 10 seconds back down to 90 degrees again. I never fully extend or rest the weight so I am constantly under load. It takes 2 minutes to do 6 repetitions. Then I do three jumps to a bench about knee height two times and walk around for a couple of minutes before going onto the next machine. This exhausts the slow, medium, medium fast and fast twitch muscle fibers all at the same time. It takes about a week to recover. I keep track of what I have done and increase the next week. I make progress every week and I am stronger than ever.

Next week I will cover cardiovascular work.

Photo by Jerry Search

Photo by Jerry Search

The Zen of Intense Training


The Zen of Intense Training.  To be zen, enlightened, in a state of total focus where mind and body are together.  This is my journey.

Having trained for many years I can recall many times I have reached this state of zen.  A long run in the forest on a trail, a hard stair workout by a waterfall, a leisurely bike ride after the end of a hard skate.

This is what I strive for.  It is the joy of the work itself.  My head, body and heart are one.

When the intensity is cranked up, I feel it.  Being totally focused on the task, this is when it works.  When racing, I am totally focused.  By training this way I am preparing for the intense race conditions.  Train to race, race like I train.  This is the connection of all of me and the Zen of intense work.

Keeping my priorities straight for this intense work is the key.  When I train, I train hard.  I work up to it gradually within each workout as well as over the course of my season and years.

The payoff is incredible.  Making progress is very rewarding.  The way I feel during and after make the work a joy.

Having trouble with being able to train hard?  If you need to prioritize, take out the volume and put in the intensity.  Work up to it gradually, and enjoy the zen of intense training.

Stair climbing at the waterfall near Inzell Germany

Stair climbing at the waterfall near Inzell Germany