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Inline Skating Newsletter Article

The Benefits of Inline Skating on a Precor Elliptical Trainer

By guest author Michael Rissman, Certified inline skating instructor

Inline skating—unlike other popular forms of cardio exercise-works both voluntary and involuntary core muscles. Inline skaters who have found their stride have learned to balance themselves not from the ground up but from the core out. It is a unique form of balance that exercises core muscles and leads to the "floating-on-air" feeling that is characteristic to inline skating. With proper technique, anybody can obtain that same combination of cardio and core benefits on a Precor elliptical machine. These are within reach whether you have no desire to skate, are planning to take up the sport, or want to take your skating to the next level.

Start with the Stance

To engage the core muscles for balance and support, you need to move your weight from the balls of the feet to your heels. Before mounting an elliptical trainer, practice this on the ground. Stand naturally with your feet shoulder-width apart and take a moment to feel where in your feet you support your weight. To shift your weight to your heels, soften your knees and drop your buttocks toward your heels an inch or two. Engage your abdominal muscles to stay erect and support the spine. Relax your shoulders, move your hands slightly forward, and look straight ahead. You'll know you're in position when you can curl your toes under without losing your balance. This is what skaters call the Ready Position.

Practice standing relaxed in the ready position. Feel the isometric engagement of core muscles from your upper abs down through your quads. If you begin to tire, straighten up by pushing through the heels. Relax a moment before easing back down into the ready position.

When the skating stance begins to feel somewhat natural, you're ready to use it for skate-specific elliptical training, where your movement on the machine can mimic what skaters do. From the ready position, skaters propel themselves by pushing on one foot while gliding on the other foot. To maximize strength and balance, the skater's weight is over the heels on both the action leg and the support leg. As long as that's where the weight remains, the lower the stance the better (meaning bent knees). The lower the stance, the longer and more powerful the stride. A strong core is essential to maintaining a low stance with proper balance. This stance is an ideal way to strengthen your core muscles.

Elliptical Dynamics

Initially, you will want to support your upper body by gripping the frame of the elliptical machine. Set the course to "manual" with a moderate slope and relatively low resistance. Assume the ready position with hands gently resting on the frame. Begin striding. A pace of 120 steps and 10 calories per minute is enough for the first workout.

Keep your knees soft and your weight on your heels, with toes curled and only gentle pressure on the balls of your feet. Periodically remove your hands from the frame and try to soften your knees an inch deeper. Maintain a steady, balanced stride tempo. If you feel unbalanced, grip the frame again. Use the machine's cool-down period to work on your balance even more. Stride in slow motion maintaining proper weight distribution for the entire stroke, for both the push down and the recoil.

Advanced Progressions

Progressions are geared to improving your strength and balance. The intensity of an elliptical trainer workout can be increased with any of the following actions:

Lowering the slope increases the intensity of the workout because the lower the slope, the more you need to engage those deep core muscles to keep your balance. The more you focus on engaging your core, the more calories you burn during a workout (all other things being equal). Most of this is isometric work and tiring. That's when you straighten up and use the frame to support you during a brief rest, and then ease back down into position.

Don't try to rush into the progressions or a heavy schedule of Precor training. Even regular exercisers will be engaging muscles in new ways, so twice a week is fine for starting out. Remember, the goal of this training is to engage your deep core muscles as completely as possible for as long as possible. You do this by maintaining your weight on the heels; keeping your toes light enough to curl under at all times; and focusing on soft knees, tight abdominals and a straight back.

In a matter of weeks, you'll begin to notice a change in your posture and a new spring in your stride, on or off skates.