Figure skating strength and conditioning coach Kristina Anderson discusses important concepts related to off-ice strength and conditioning training for figure skaters. In particular, Kristina addresses the myth that off-ice training will “bulk up” female figure skaters or make them appear overly muscular. The simple fact is that the young females have such low levels of testosterone in their bodies that muscle growth is extremely limited. In addition, only a small percentage of female athletes have a predominance of the muscle fiber type required to build the “bulky” muscles seen on Olympic sprinters or speedskaters. This combination of low testosterone and limited bulking fiber type makes the vast majority of female athletes essentially immune to becoming “bulky.”
Kristina also describes how stretching and massage can play an important role in reducing the “bulky” look. Stretching has been a major part of figure skating training for decades, but massage is just now starting to be seen as important. As Kristina notes, massage can lengthen and “unstick” muscles in areas where stretching has little affect.
The bottom line is: all skaters trying to improve their athleticism should do off-ice strength and conditioning training. The risk of female skaters bulking up is very low, and stretching and massage can help minimize those tendencies even further.
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