Rollerblading can be a great sport and an excellent mode of burning fat. However, casual skating is not the same as working out on a pair of rollerblades. Rollerblading requires committed hours of practice, learning the skills and perfecting the stance. However, the key to better rollerblading lies in understanding the basics and getting them right.
So, how should you practice and get better at rollerblading? You should note that balance is the key to rollerblading. So, if you want to get better, you must work on your balancing skills first. Again, you must remember that the balance moves top down. In other words, your body follows wherever your head goes. Therefore, you must focus on maintaining your upper body balance because if that fails, it takes the lower body with it.
Another thing which is very important to note especially for the beginners is that you control balance with your employed side. This implies if you want to stand on your left foot, you should focus your weight on your left shoulder and hand and vice versa. You can freely move your opposite leg or hand any way you prefer.
This article covers some basic rollerblading workout tips that you should keep in mind. Further, the article introduces a simple workout routine from a pro along with some suggested exercises to improve your rollerblading skills.
Rollerblading Workout Tips
A primary tip for all the beginners in rollerblading is to maintain a proper posture. Without a proper stance, none of the skills will work effectively and you may end up stressing and tiring yourself without any fruitful results. Follow the rules of rollerblading as you practice the following workout tips [source]:
- Always skate on a lighter stomach. Rollerblading may cause some compression to your stomach. Therefore, you should prefer working out on a light stomach. Although you do not need to have a completely empty stomach. Hydrate yourself sufficiently before you pull on your skates to avoid dehydration issues and cramps.
- Skate in a cooler environment. Cool air is essential because the regular gush of wind on your face during skating may dehydrate you faster. If you reside in a deserted area or someplace with hot wind, you should prefer skating indoors.
- Carry out a short warm-up workout before skating. A few rounds of aerobics or a little jogging may help stretching major muscle groups before skating. Stiff muscles are more prone to injuries. Prior workout prepares your muscles to respond quickly as required in rollerblading.
- Avoid skating with a load, especially when you are a beginner. Never carry anything additional while rollerblading because the load may influence your weight distribution and distort your posture, forcing your muscles to adjust constantly. Such frequent weight shifting may cause severe injuries.
- Avoid steep hills as they may cause you to lose balance and control thereby leading to a crash and severe injuries.
- Do not skate over wet surfaces without substantial skating experience as these surfaces tend to be slippery. Chances are you may end up losing control and crashing badly.
- Do not bend in excess. Many skaters tend to bend forward when they fear to fall while moving fast. Such a practice may create a V-shaped posture that exerts excess pressure on your spine and knees.
- Practice stopping quickly. It is often difficult to come to a halt when you are skating faster. This may put you in a tricky situation when you are rollerblading in a rink or on the road with peer skaters. Learn to apply the brakes promptly without crashing, even before you initiate speed skating workouts.
- Do not rush your learning process. Do not try to go too far too early. Identify your physical limits before you take up a new challenging skill. Follow a daily workout regimen to improve muscle endurance and build strength.
- Avoid low cut boots. Instead, look for a sturdy four-wheel arrangement having proper lacing and straps.
Now, that you know about the basic do’s and don’ts that you should follow for better rollerblading, it is time to know a basic workout routine to improve your skills.
Basic Workout for Beginners to Get Better at Rollerblading: 1-2 Hours Routine
According to pros, the following is a simple yet effective workout routine for beginners that can help improve their rollerblading skills. You can experiment with suggested exercises or the workout duration to find what works best for you.
- Hydrate yourself sufficiently and carry out minor aerobics, You can lazily skate around the premises or your home for about five minutes. Such a practice will help prepare your muscles for the rollerblading session. Plus, it checks if your blades are in proper condition.
- Head out for a straight stretch without obstacles or a straight road without traffic. Mark a starting point. Take note of how far can you move in 20 seconds. You can even use a fitness tracker for this exercise.
- Maintain your top speed for about 15-20 seconds. Ensure that you keep a proper stance regardless of the speed at which you are rollerblading. Stay watchful for any oncoming traffic. Professional call this technique by the name ‘flat race’. It helps in building strength in your obliques and abs.
- Stop after 20 seconds. Gather your breath and come to a halt. At this time, you can take a pause or skate gently for a while.
- Mark another starting point and repeat the drill at least 5 times. Take adequate rest in between and stay watchful for what lies ahead on the road.
- Once you are done with 5 repetitions, you can relax for half an hour. After that, search for a gradual incline or small hill. You should be able to reach the summit of the hill by skating fast comfortably in no more than 5-minutes. Do not choose hills that are too high or too long.
- Brace up properly and skate in speed towards the summit. Maintain proper posture.
- Once you reach the top, relax for a minute. Rollerbladers call this the ‘hill climb’ routine.
- Move down the hill at a comfortable pace without putting much effort.
- Turn around and try to move uphill again at a fast pace. Repeat the drill 4-5 times.
- Relax for half an hour. Hydrate yourself if needed and skate back home or where you started, at a comfortable pace.
You can try this workout routine at a local rink. However, do not go through the routine too quickly, as it may cause fatigue build-up in your muscles, which may lead to potential injuries over time.
Body Workout Exercises to Improve Rollerblading Skills
Rollerblading requires you to tone and tighten your core, thighs, hips, and glutes. Remember that a lean, fragile body cannot withstand the pressure and physical strength demanded by an extreme sport such as rollerblading. Further, you should work out your balancing skills.
A proper stance, muscular endurance, and substantial balance constitute successful rollerblading. You can include some low-impact exercises in your regular workout regimen to build muscular strength, develop endurance, and eventually improve your skills. Here are some exercises to practice and improve your rollerblading [source]:
This is a muscle-building exercise that targets your calves, shins, quads, glutes, and hamstrings. For this, keep your feet shoulder-width apart. Bend your knees at 45-degrees without moving forward your upper body.
Rise up on the balls of your feet while maintaining the position. Lower down your back and move only your ankles. Continue for 30 seconds. This exercise helps in toning your muscles for rollerblading
As already said, rollerblading requires you to maintain a proper stance. You can eventually improve your posture for the sport by this simple yet effective exercise. It not only teaches you the correct stance but also targets your legs, glutes, shoulders, hip flexors, lower and upper back.
For this, keep your feet shoulder-width apart. Bend your knees at a 45-degrees angle. Extend one leg to the side. Keep your knees bent and toes facing forward all this while. Move back your leg and repeat with the other. Continue alternating legs and complete 20 repetitions.
This exercise targets your hips and ab/adductors. It also engages the muscles of your legs and butt. For this, stand straight with your toes facing forward, keeping your feet shoulder-width apart. Push your tush backward as if you are sitting in a chair. Bend your knees to maintain a half-squat position. Extend your left leg to the side and lift it off the floor. Move the leg back to the starting position and repeat with the right leg. Continue alternating sides and complete 20 repetitions. You can also extend your leg back and forth.
Single-leg squats work on your quadriceps and activate your core. They also target other muscles of the lower body including your calves, glutes, and hamstrings. For this, you need to stand on the left leg keeping your hands on the hips. Bend your left knee and extend your right leg forward. Gradually lower your body. Maintain the position for a while before you push yourself up. Switch legs and repeat. Perform 10 repetitions on each leg.
This exercise helps in strengthening every muscle of your lower body, including calves, glutes, quadriceps, and hamstrings. For this, step your left leg forward. Gradually lower your body so that your front knee makes a 90 degrees angle with the floor. Maintain the position for a while. Push yourself quickly back to the starting position. Switch legs and repeat. After the front squat on each leg, perform a reverse lunge by stepping backward. Continue alternating the legs.
Perform 10 backward and 10 forward lunges on each leg. You can elevate the complexity of this exercise by adding a jump when you transition onto the other leg. Try to raise your knee up as high as you can in mid-air.
This simple exercise helps in conditioning the muscles in your hips, glutes, hamstrings, and lower back. For this, keep your hands on the hips. Keep your knees slightly bent at an angle of 45 degrees. Keeping your knees bent, bend your lower torso and hips to make it parallel to the floor. Maintain the position for a while. Raise your torso and bring back to the starting position. Complete 20 repetitions.
30-Minute Cardio Workout
Perform warmup exercise for 10 minutes. Skate at a fast pace for 10 seconds. Repeat 3 easy, 10-second bursts at high speed. Take complete rest for 35 seconds and skate for 25 seconds at a fast pace after that. Repeat the 35/25 pattern for at least 20 times. Do some easy skating for 10 minutes to cool down your muscles.
This exercise works wonders for the beginners in helping improve their balancing skills. For this, you try to maintain the balance of your body on one foot. Keep your feet shoulder-width apart. Gradually stand on one foot by shifting your weight onto the shoulder of that side.
Do not lean at your waist. Make certain that your shoulder and lower torso moves to the side of the standing foot. You may realize the tension in your body moving from the shoulder down to the arm of the employed side. Notice that your body stands still without any movement or wobbling in your ankles. You should be able to freely move the hand and leg of the opposite side without losing your balance.
One-foot Stand With Skates
Repeat the one-foot stand after putting on your skates. It is preferable to try the exercise on a rough surface like carpet which can prevent the wheels from rolling. Keep your weight balanced on the shoulder of the employed side.
Once you can comfortably stand on one foot with and without skates, you can try skating on one foot in a skating rink. For this, start skating at a moderate speed. Try to move in a straight line. Gradually shift your weight on one foot and lift the other. Keep your weight balanced on the shoulder of the employed foot.
Once you are comfortable, try to change foot by shifting your weight to the other side while still rolling. Keep practicing the exercise until you are comfortable skating on one foot.
Alternating Stable and Fast Skating
This exercise helps in improving your balancing skills. The idea is to learn to move the shoulder first in the side of the foot on which you are skating when switching feet. In this case, you glide on one foot and then switch to the other by moving your shoulder and planting your foot.
Speed and momentum are obtained by pushing off the back foot into the new direction. Simply set, plant, and glide on one foot. Switch and repeat with the other foot alternating stable and fast skating. Remember that the shoulder of your skating foot controls your balance. Move your arms rhythmically to counterbalance your tread.
Controlling the Edges
Once you are comfortable rolling on your rollerblades, you should practice using the edges. Begin by controlling the outer forward edge. For this, skate at a moderate speed using the outer forward edge of the left foot. Set your shoulder for control before you lean on the edge.
The blades grip the floor when you skate forward. The gained momentum will keep you from falling. Use your free foot to counterbalance. Switch feet and repeat. You can repeat the drill with the inner forward edges. Use the shoulder of the employed side to maintain balance. Use the other side to counterbalance.
In this exercise, you run in your skates as you do in your shoes. It will help improve your balance and make you understand how the skates move when torque is applied to them [source].
Travel in a Line
As simple as it sounds, you need to keep one foot in front of the latter. You can keep any foot in front, but you should try it both ways. It greatly helps in improving your balance during stepovers.
Crossovers and Stepovers
In this exercise, you lift one foot and put it over the other. After that, you set it back down. Initially practice crossovers on a carpet or in the grass. Get comfortable doing them in a circle. You can try them in any direction. Try doing them while you travel in a straight line. Mastering the exercise can help you chain together multiple tricks or turns.
You may not find an ideal path devoid of obstacles when you skate outdoors. There may be grass, gravels, potholes, cracked pavements, manhole covers, train rails, bumpy patches, tactile pavings, and other hindrances blocking your path from being perfectly flat. Ergo, you must prepare yourself to run over them. Skating with obstacles prepares your body reflexes for sudden encounters and sharp swings.
This exercise helps in improving your balance while performing tricks. You may find many places in the urban areas which do not have elevators or ramps. Therefore, learning to walk on the stairs with your skates on, can greatly help in such situations. Once you learn the drill, you can take the stairs without the need of holding the safety rail. However, starters must use them to maintain balance.
Start the exercise by first going upstairs. Whether you are moving up or down, try to walk sideways taking one step at a time. Gently kick the front of the stairs when moving upstairs facing forward. This will prevent you from falling if the stairs are not deep enough.
In this exercise, you not only do normal skating backward, but also skate in a line in the backward direction, and skate backward on one leg. This will help you reduce your fear of falling forward as you move down backward on ramps or stairs. First, practice on some flat surface. Notice how your feet and legs move when you skate backward or forward.
Remember to lean forward and bend your knees when moving down the inclines and stairs. This will reduce your center of gravity and prevent the fear of fall. Make certain to watch over your shoulder to check for and avoid people and obstacles.
Turns and Spins
Try some heel-to-heel turns. You can do them easily if you are can comfortably skate keeping your feet in a line. In a nutshell, you start skating in a line, pick one foot, place it back down after turning it by 180 degrees. Create enough curve to make the turn with your feet. The sharper the curve the faster will be your spin. Do not try it at a slow speed as you may eventually fall. Once you are comfortable taking turns in a forward direction, you can blend a turn with backward skating.
Jumps and Jump Turns
Jumps and turns can literally throw you off balance. Combining the two can be even trickier. Get comfortable with both before trying a jump turn. Practice jumping as you skate forward. Once you can comfortably pick one foot, try to pick both together. Start with tiny jumps over inconsequential obstacles. Slowly switch to higher jumps. Once you are comfortable jumping over obstacles and landing, try to use small three-dimensional obstacles. You can further elevate the challenge by jumping on one foot. Once you are comfortable, you can try jump-turns next.
Skating on Two Wheels
In this exercise, you use the back wheels, front wheels, or back and front. The idea is to maintain balance on only two wheels. You can easily perform the drill with your rollerblades that do not have an inbuilt braking mechanism.
Words of Caution for Beginners
Many times you may feel the urge to hit the brakes under an emergency situation, especially when going downhill. While you should practice proper braking, you should also learn about different braking mechanisms and tricks other than using the brakes themselves. When used properly, your brakes will not wear down quickly.
Many skaters prefer to come to a halt with a T-stop or similar braking techniques. You can use these techniques to eventually slow down or come to a halt. Go easy and take your time. Keep practicing the exercises to improve your skills. You can focus on exercises that may help you improve your weaknesses.
Learn to maintain balance. Start some balancing exercises with or without skates, on one foot or two feet, to target your balance issues. Regardless of your rollerblade workout plan, you should remember that your total workout time must not exceed the duration of your skating session. In other words, if you skate for an hour each day, increase your workout duration. Start with two flat races and two hill climbs. Scale-up further as you improve your endurance. Keep the workout tips in mind. Stay within the limits of your physical stress, terrain, and time.
How can I get into a comfortable braking position? The following tips will help you get into a comfortable braking position [source]:
- Keep your knees bent and hands out in front.
- Shift your weight to the skate without the brake.
- Gradually slide forward the skate with the brake keeping your weight on the non-brake foot thereby forming a triangle.
- Keep your feet parallel pointing your toes forward.
What should I do if I cannot prevent a fall? The key here is to control your fall. If you feel unstable and wobbly on your skates and assume you are about to fall, lean forward bending at the waist and fall on your guards to minimize potential damage.