Have you been watching the Winter Olympics? Such high-level acts of athleticism can inspire you to start a new fitness routine or to take your workouts to the next level. In Part 1 of this article, we featured workouts to increase eccentric strength, core strength and endurance. Now, let’s focus on improvements in leg strength, agility and balance.
Bobsleigh, Nordic Combined, Short Track Speed Skating
Your base is important and leg strength contributes to your speed, stability and explosive power. There are no sports in the Winter Olympics that need these attributes more than Bobsleigh, Nordic Combined and Short Track Speed Skating. Check out these top three exercises that can add explosive power to your legs.
- Single Leg Squat – Hold a weight and stand facing away from a bench. Raise one foot off the ground, extending the other leg out in front of you. Keep your torso straight, bend your knee, and push your hips back to slowly lower your butt to the bench. Do the movement slowly and when you are in the seated position, return your foot to the floor.
- Leg Press – The leg press allows for a variety of foot positions, which lets you target specific muscles in your legs. Sit down at a leg press machine with your legs on the platform in front of you, about shoulder-width apart. Lower the safety bars. As you inhale, slowly lower the platform until your upper and lower legs make a 90-degree angle. Exhale and press the platform up until your legs are fully extended. Do not lock your knees.
- Sled Push – Load the sled with light weighs. Start with your feet in a running stance. Focus on keeping your posture upright and your body aligned. Drive through with your feet as you sprint ahead pushing the sled.
Nordic Combined, Skeleton
Agility is the ability to move quickly and easily, to think quickly and to react on our feet. It can help you in life, not just in sports. Here are the top Winter Olympics-inspired exercises to help you improve agility.
- Agility Ball Throws – This exercise is a fun way to speed reaction times. You can do it with an agility ball, tennis ball, rebounder or wall. While most fun with a partner, it can also be done alone. With a partner, take turns bouncing the ball off the rebounder or wall. Try to get your opponent to miss the ball. When alone, bounce the ball off the wall or rebounder and react by catching the ball before it hits the ground.
- Side Step Hurdle Drills – Set up hurdles, cones or anything you have that can serve as obstacles to jump over (6 inches to 1 foot in height). You want to set up about 10 hurdles in a row. While facing sideways, step over each hurdle. Be sure to pick up your feet. Focus on speed and landing your feet quickly on the ground between hurdles.
- Medicine Ball Throws – Get on the balls of your feet and be ready to react. Choose a small to medium sized medicine ball. Start by standing perpendicular to a wall with your legs shoulder-width apart. Squat down and lift the medicine ball. Keep your abs locked, slowly rotate your torso towards the wall as you throw the ball against the wall with all your strength. React and catch the ball as it bounces off the wall.
Figure Skating, Freestyle Skiing
When you watch an Olympic skater spin, you can’t help but think, “How do they keep their balance?” The answer is simple: practice and training. Figure skating, however, is not the only sport at the Winter Olympics that requires superior balance. Check out these three exercises that can help you prepare to spin, jump, twist and still maintain your balance.
- Plyometric push-ups – Begin like a regular push-up with your hands about shoulder-width apart on the floor. Lower yourself down then explode upward pushing hard through the floor. Your hands should raise off the ground.
- Squats – This is one of the basics for building your body. It can be done with and without weights. While standing with your feet a little wider than your hips, point your toes slightly outward. Look straight ahead. You can focus on a spot on the wall for balance. Squat down until your hip joint comes lower than your knees. Repeat.
- Superman – Lie face down on the floor and think about how Superman flies. Now raise your arms and legs off the floor and picture yourself zooming thorough Metropolis. This will help you hold the pose. Be sure to squeeze your lower back as you hold the position.
Whether you are training to improve your performance or just trying to take off some holiday pounds, these exercises are great additions to your routine. Keep watching the XXIII Winter Olympics through Sunday, February 25, 2018 for inspiration!
All readers are advised to consult their physician before beginning any exercise and nutrition program. BPI Sports and the contributors do not accept any responsibility for injury sustained as a result of following the advice or suggestions contained within the content.