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Weight Training for Speed Skating

Get Up to Speed with Strength Training


Updated November 16, 2011

Short-track Speed Skating

Short-track Speed Skating

Photo by Corey Davis - Getty Images

The ability to skate fast, apart from skating skill, is pretty much determined genetically by your predominant muscle type -- the fast twitch fibers and how much of them you have been blessed with.

Even so, that's not to say that you can't improve on what you already have. Of course, training to skate fast means skating fast in training . . . but on top of that, most serious speed skaters now do some sort of weight training to enhance their power and strength -- and hopefully their speed.

Because all athletes have individual needs, a generic program like this one will need to be modified for age, gender, goals, facilities and so on. However, here's a basic program, starting out, to get you up to speed in the speed skating world.

General Preparation

The general preparation phase should provide all-round muscle and strength conditioning in the early pre-season. You may be training dry-land and on the rink as well, so you will need to fit gym training in with your track work. As a general rule, and for all the following programs, don't do the workouts immediately prior to dry-land track or skating work. Do them on a separate day if possible, or at least well prior to or well after a practice session. Nothing you do should limit your ability to train fast on the rink in the form in which you race.

Frequency - 2 to 3 sessions per week
Type - general conditioning
Exercises - 9 exercises, 3 sets of 12, plus warm-up and cool-down in the Basic Strength and Muscle program.
Rest between sets - 30-90 seconds.

Specific Preparation

In this phase, you will focus more on the development of strength and power. This is the period, later pre-season, leading up to the start of competition. Lift heavy at around 75% of 1RM.

Frequency - 2 to 3 session per week
Type - strength and power
Exercises - 5 sets of 6: Romanian deadlift, incline bench press, hang clean, single-leg squats, back squat, combo crunches
Rest between sets - 2-3 minutes

Dry-land and gym work should include plyometrics like hops, bounds, jumps, box marches, stair climbs -- on one leg as appropriate. Ankle strength and flexibility is important. Be careful to approach plyometrics with due care as soft-tissue injury is not uncommon.

Competition Phase

The aim of this phase is the maintenance of strength and power. Rink training and competition should dominate. Prior to the start of competition, take 7-10 days break from heavy weights work at the end of Specific Preparation while maintaining your rink and dry-land work. Weight training in the competition phase should play essentially a maintenance role.

Frequency - 1 to 2 sessions per week
Type - power; lighter loads and faster execution than in the specific preparation phase
Exercises - 3 sets of 10, rapid concentric movement, 40% to 60% of 1RM. Squats, power hang clean, Romanian deadlift. Crunches continue.
Rest between sets - 1-2 minutes


  • Be sure to warm up and cool down prior to weight training.
  • Don't train through injuries, acute or chronic.
  • Don't sacrifice a rink session for a weights session -- unless you're treating or recovering from an injury using weights.
  • Be guided by a knowledgeable strength and conditioning coach if one is available.
  • Take 7 days rest and recovery from weight training every few months or at least revert to light sessions to allow repair and rebuilding. Take a longer rest at the end of the season to recover after a hard season.
  • If you're new to weight training, read up on the fundamentals before you start.

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