Saturday, August 29, 2015

A 12 min No Equipment Needed Figure Skating Off-Ice Warmup

I wanted to do a no equipment required warmup before my skating so that I can get my on ice warm up down to 5 minutes. Here's the method I picked; a high intensity, progressive system of timed exercises that requires only 12 minutes. The only hitch: while it's a great warm up program, it's also a program you should do every day. But, c'mon, it's only 12 minutes a day.
When I joined the USAF, they gave us women a little pamphlet called XBX--Ten Basic Exercises.  This little book consists of ten exercises in a set period of time, 12 minutes.  The author of this book was an MD who worked for the Canadian government. He tested hundreds of women and discovered that intensity of exercise is more important than length of the exercise. This book was used by the Canadian Air Force until 2008.

There are four graded tables with 12 levels each; Table 1 has the simplest variation of the ten exercises, Table II has more complex variations, etc. As time goes on you work your way up from the easy version of the exercises, to the harder ones.  You never do more than twelve minutes of exercises.  If you can't do the exercises in a new level in 12 minutes, you step back down a level.

A couple off weeks ago, I dug out my historical artifact (my old copy of XBX from 1973) and talked two women from work into joining me in doing the program. We started on Chart I, Level 1. Here is a video of a young man who appears to be doing Chart 1, Level 11.

The only problem with the program is that it was designed in the 60's to be done without supervision by a population that was basically unfit. The exercsies aren't what the athlete of today would call a challenge.  Since that the 60s,  people have split into two groups: the fittish and the fattish. My friends and I are in the fittish contingent so we made some slight modifications:

1.  We do the exercises as fast as we can in order to increase the intensity, while maintaining good form. The book says to spend 8 days at each level, but since we're doing levels in less that 10 minutes we do a new level a day. We're now on Chart II, we'll see if we get up to the 12 minute wall in this chart and have to start repeating levels.
2. I misread some of the descriptions of counting for the leg lifts, arm circling, and side leg raises so we did double the exercises for Chart I.  Well, Chart I wasn't much of a challenge. And even with the increased difficulty, we were still blowing through it.
3. We don't do the sit-ups. Instead, we do crunches.

Does it work? Well, yeah. And in surprising ways. I had a snap in my right shoulder. Even though we only did the first Chart, the arm circling made the snapping go away. I'm also a chronic failure in push ups. I just shifted from the super-girly pushups on Chart I, to the regular girl push ups on Chart II without a problem.  I hope that when I get to Chart III I'll be ready to do 'manly' push ups. Also, my lower back has stopped hurting.

Today I did Level I, Chart II before I skated, my knees and ankles were ready to go and my lower back didn't give me any trouble on ice or in the car on the way home. 

The pamphlet is pretty self-explanatory, you can download it from the link above. Also, although it was designed for women, I don't see anything wrong with a man doing these exercises before skating as the exercises are seem to parallel many needs for the figure skater warm up: flexibility, hip and knee warm up, and upper body strength. 

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