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.
Lysacek says he often gets amazed stares from the other athletes at the DISC Olympic training facility in Marina del Rey, California, who are astounded by his pound-for-pound strength. "They often ask me, 'What sport do you play again?' " he laughs. This supposedly scrawny ice skater credits a strong core with his ability to out-buff all the other guys, and he credits seated runs with helping build his.
In a seated position in a chair, hold a light dumbbell in each hand. Lift both legs so that you are balancing between your gluts and your lower back. While retaining tension in your core, bend one knee up to your chest, and bring your opposite elbow to touch that knee. Then extend your bent leg while bringing your other knee to your chest, crunching your opposite elbow to touch. Repeat this six times, three on each side. Then bring the dumbbells to your chest and press upward, similar to an overhead press. Bring the weights back to center – all of this counts as one rep. Lysacek usually does five sets of 10 reps.
Credit: Photograph by Dustin Snipes