Sometimes, people slide into my DMs.

And, despite the connotations of that phrase, it’s not as unpleasant as you might imagine it would be. There was the skater that desperately needed a wrist guard recommendation (ProDesigned all the way). The skaters that write to express gratitude about articles I’ve written. Even the folks that send me videos that I can share on #funthingsfriday.

What I’m saying is that it’s rarely a dick pic. Thank god.

But some of my favorite DM slides are when skaters ask me about a subject that I have VERY STRONG opinions about and I get to expound on it at length to them. Probably more than they expected. Or wanted.

Which is why this DM lit up my eye sockets like a holiday light display:

I wanted to know your thoughts about burpees on skates. In skating, we are always drilled about form. However, this seems to be the one exercise within the derby community that completely ignores form for the sake of endurance. I’d really love to hear your input. Thanks.

My actual response: How much time do you have?

As you may have guessed from the title of this email, my thoughts about burpees on skates aren’t very friendly.

Don’t get me wrong.

I think that burpees can be an awesome addition to off-skates training — if a bit over used — and have value as a total body strength and cardio conditioning option. But their value is dependent on having good form (as the skater above mentions) and it’s impossible to have proper form with burpees when you’re on skates.

Seriously. Impossible.

Here are the main issues:

  1. There’s absolutely no way to do them properly when your feet are elevated that far off the floor in proportion to the rest of your torso. You’re forced to bend uncomfortably and abnormally through your low back to even get your hands to the floor.
  2. Most skaters have completely wonky arm position for push-ups anyway. Lowering your body to the ground in a burpee requires a solid push-up form that a lot of humans (skater or not) are lacking.
  3. Your wrists can’t flex properly while you have your wrist guards on and you’re putting your shoulder in an even worse position by having to fight against that lack of flexibility.
  4. Not enough skaters have the core or upper body strength to pull them off correctly even without skates on their feet. Especially if they aren’t already spending time training off-skates.

I could probably go on but suffice it to say, I hate them. I think they’re a terrible choice. There are a million other, better ways to do full body endurance on-skates. Like, I don’t know, skating…

In fact, I feel pretty strongly that anything you’re doing on-skates should relate directly to HOW you skate.

Do the rest of your strength/cardio/stability work with your cross-training. That’s what that time is for. When you combine two things (skates and burpees, for example) you often divide the benefit rather than compound it.

And guess what? I feel the same way about wall sits, too.

At this point, you might be frantically trying to think of exercises you can do safely on-skates.

What about squats?

Listen. I love a good squat, but all of the biomechanical issues still apply. You’re not able to distribute your weight for a proper squat while wearing skates. That makes it more likely that the quads will get overused and the glutes will get used not at all. We don’t really play derby in a full squat anyway, so why waste your time? But most importantly — I’ve SEEN skaters squat. A lot of us don’t know how to do it properly wearing shoes, let alone wheels.

What about planks?

Eh…again, your movement pattern is impacted by those SKATES ON YOUR FEET. So probably not.

The point is this:

Exercises shouldn't be done on skates just for the purpose of doing them. #rollerderby Click To Tweet

And exercises where you are actually ON YOUR SKATES while you do them change your entire movement pattern. Which is…not good.

So what do you do?

  • OPTION ONE: Choose exercises that don’t require you to be on your skates even while you’re wearing them. The following exercises aren’t impacted by the changed dynamic of wearing skates because you aren’t actually standing AND they work muscles that need some focus if you’re skating hard and turning left all the time. In fact, wearing skaters here adds a little extra resistance:
  • OPTION TWO: Do your off-skates training actually off-skates. Either during practice (preferably the end) or outside of practice. The logistics of that are up to your league. But I’ve provided a basic training plan to get you started.

We all want to position ourselves for success on the track. So make sure the training you choose is actually doing that.

Want more?

If you’re interested in more exclusive content, access to my FREE resource library, and the slightly weird workings of my inner mind, you can sign up for the Iron Octopus Fitness email list HERE. Wherein I harass you weekly with all things intelligent cross training, mindset, and…other.


About IronOctopusFitness

Online athletic training and nutrition coach, full-time mom, okay skater, and connoisseur of all things tea, chocolate, and roller derby. I'll help you unleash your inner athlete by building a strong, capable body that can withstand whatever life throws at you.

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