For most Americans, who might watch figure skating once or twice a year, the grueling seven-hour training sessions, countless falls, and warrior-like mental discipline behind it are lost in the face of the glittering costumes and pop music. But behind every seemingly effortless execution of a quadruple jump is a ferocious athleticism. Reigning Olympic figure skating champion, Evan Lysacek, embodies that mix of subtle grace and steely determination. The 27-year-old Chicago native claimed gold in the 2010 Winter Olympics and is in training for the 2014 winter games in Sochi, Russia, where he'll attempt to become the first man to win back-to-back Olympic figure-skating titles in more than half a century. Lysacek was generous enough to reveal nine figure-skating exercises he uses; they maximize overall athleticism no matter what your sport.
"From the physical standpoint of skating, you're using every area of the muscle at the same time. It demands quickness, explosiveness, and flat-out strength," says Lysacek. This exercise trains all three.
Above your head, hold a bar that is slightly longer than shoulder-width (when testing this, we used a sawed-in-half kung fu staff). Lunge your front leg forward into a split-squat, bearing most of your body weight through your front foot. With an explosive jump, scissor your legs to land with your feet in their alternate positions, so that your back foot is now in front. Repeat for five sets of 10 reps (five reps each leg), and you'll be on your way to a quadruple jump.
Credit: Photograph by Dustin Snipes