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.
Single-Leg Squat With Twist (Bowler Squat)
"The danger involved with skating sets it apart as a sport," Lysacek points out. "Some extreme sports are on this level, but with skating, if you're not totally focused, you could die from performing these tricks." In terms of strength, Lysacek's muscles must be in perfect balance. Single-leg exercises like the bowler squat help prevent inequalities in leg strength, decreasing the chance of injury.
Stand on your right leg with your left leg elevated and bent behind you. With a light dumbbell in your left hand (start with a 15 pounder to get your bearings), sink into a single-leg squat with your right leg. At the bottom of the squat, reach across your right leg with your weight-bearing arm and gently touch the dumbbell to the floor on the outside of your right foot. Come out of the rotation, return to center, and press up and out of the squat. Repeat five sets of 10 on each leg. Do not alternate legs between reps.
Credit: Photograph by Dustin Snipes