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.
Jump Takeoff Simulation
Lycasek will sometimes train for seven hours straight. If he trains incorrectly, such a high volume of exercise can seriously damage his body. This exercise instills the muscle memory of a clean takeoff but without jumping, which eliminates the wear and tear of landing that can occur from repeatedly performing plyometrics ("jumping and rebounding").
Holding a comfortable weight (regular dumbbells are fine), start with your feet approximately shoulder-width apart and the weights at your sides. Without bending your knees, lift the weights from your sides up in front of your face. At the same time, rise onto the balls of your feet. Hold for one second and slowly lower down. Repeat five sets of 10 to 12 reps. Enjoy the calf burn.
Credit: Photograph by Dustin Snipes