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.
Half-Rotation Zigzag Agility Training
Course-based agility training is crucial for developing the athletic grace required in figure skating. If you want to train like Lysacek, however, you don't need to go out and buy a course ladder. He suggests simply placing 12 small pieces of tape or small plastic cups in a zigzag course on the floor, spaced approximately 3 feet up and 3 feet over from each other. Stand on your right leg on the first mark, facing away from the course, angled so that the next mark is 3 feet behind you and to your left. Jump and turn 180 degrees in the air, rotating in the direction of the bent leg, to land on your right leg on the next mark (the idea is to land so you're facing away from the course again). Then jump and spin to land on the third mark, working your way through the entire course. Switch legs after each set. Perform three sets for each leg.
Credit: Photograph by Dustin Snipes