An excerpt from Liz's recently published Advanced In-Line Skating, describing how a focused In-line workout builds a better body, and how to tune that body with foods to ensure optimum performance. The photos in this article are recent works by Dan Kibler, not published in the book.
In-Line Workout Benefits
Fun as it is, skating contributes directly to improving the most sought-after exercise goals: improved aerobic fitness, strength, endurance and body fat reduction. Fast-paced skating has been proved to be just as aerobically beneficial as running; compared to cycling, an equal skating effort results in a better muscular workout for hips, thighs and shins. As long as you apply yourself to purposeful workouts with specific daily goals (as opposed to simply going through the motions), you are setting yourself up to enjoy the maximum possible benefits from fitness skating.
Better aerobic fitness: The benefits of sustained aerobic exercise have been acknowledged for years. On skates, 25 minutes--universally acknowledged as the minimum for improving aerobic capacity--seems much too soon to stop, especially after the natural high from the release of endorphins kicks in! Unlike running or some health club aerobics options, skating doesn't involve the jarring footfall that is so hard on overused or aging lower body joints. To ice the cake, because it's a weight-bearing activity, an inline workout also contributes to bone density as your aerobic fitness improves.
Strength gains: Consistent skate training has been found to tone and build stronger, more stable pelvis, hip, and leg muscles. The quadriceps--the muscles on the fronts of the thighs--are strengthened both from the sustained isometric contraction while gliding in a tuck position and from the repeated contractions and extensions of stroking. Each stroke puts hamstrings, buttocks and hip flexors into play for balance and propulsion, while the abdominals and lower back remain contracted to stabilize the upper body. This also works the adductors (inner thigh, pulling muscle) and the abductors (outer thigh, pushing muscle). If you're new to such athletic workouts, you'll notice these muscles feeling gradually firmer and more toned.
The light weight/high repetitions of an inline stride's push-off strengthen the spinal erectors (lower back muscles). For people with unstable discs in the lower back, a few weeks of skating workouts is an excellent way to make this area stronger and less achy. People recovering from knee surgery have found that skating is a quick way to rehabilitate the muscles in that complex joint.
Improved endurance: An inline skating training program can increase muscular as well as aerobic endurance. Adopt a weekly inline interval training session such as repeated uphill sprints, and your skating muscles--in conjunction with the cardiovascular system--begin to utilize the body's energy stores more efficiently, increasing your capacity for prolonged hard work. Long, slow distance skating improves aerobic fitness, which in turn allows you to skate even longer without fatigue.
Body fat reduction: A consistent 25 minutes of aerobic activity three to five times a week can gradually turn your body into a fat-burning machine. As your muscles get firmer and denser, your body burns more calories, even when you're asleep! As long as you keep the pace above 10 miles per hour, inline skating burns the same number of calories as running.
It's important to eat a healthy diet that supports your fitness goals rather than hindering them. This starts at your local grocery store. Do your best to fill your shopping cart with unprocessed, highly nutritional foods, leaving out packaged and canned goods as much as possible. There should be no room in that cart for sweet and salty junk foods such as chips and pastries. Instead, load up with fresh fish, low fat or fat-free meat and dairy products, soy-based proteins, almonds, fruit and munchable raw vegetables. While you're in the produce section, add a variety of greens and squashes, mushrooms, avocados and tomatoes. Buy high quality, sprouted grain breads and whole wheat fat-free tortillas but avoid full-size bagels and other starchy grains. Refresh your stock of soy sauce, garlic, onions, olive oil and fresh herbs to add flavor when cooking.
Try to save eating out for special occasions. Daily or even weekly trips to restaurants and fast food outlets make it difficult to control both the quantity and quality of your intake. Even with the demands of a major fitness training program, more and more studies are proving that a restricted-calorie lifestyle actually prolongs the average life span. To maintain day-long energy reserves, eat small meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner (don't skip!) and smaller snacks two or three times a day, so you never go more than four hours without food. Waiting six to eight hours between feedings invariably results in eating more than your body needs, not to mention wide swings in blood sugar level which can hurt both the body's insulin management system and your energy level.
(Most Get Rolling visitors are aware that Dan and I follow the Zone diet to fuel our fitness lifestyle. --LM)
Other fitness-related topics covered in Advanced In-Line Skating are:
- Warm-up, Stretching, and Cool-Down
- Key Skills
- Heart Rate Training
- Plan Your Program
- Training Focus
- Cross Training Alternatives
- Fitness Resources