Speed Skaters – also known as Skater Hops – is a plyometric exercise that builds lateral hip strength and power while challenging your balance & endurance.
Most gym exercises are forward and backward, but speed skaters are side to side, which builds lateral and rotational strength. The muscles around your outer hips and inner thighs are activated, which can help prevent injury when you play basketball with your friends along with other sports.
Speed Skaters are a favorite plyometric exercise of many strength coaches because they are so effective at building lateral and rotational strength and explosiveness. They can also be used at the end of a workout as a finisher to challenge your cardiovascular endurance.
- Start in an athletic stance, knees slightly bent and chest up, looking straight ahead.
- Standing on one foot, cross your opposite foot behind you and then laterally hop. Keep the landing foot straight ahead as you land.
- The leg you just jumped with will naturally cross behind the opposite leg. Keep your balance as you use your arms to drive off the standing leg to hop sideways back and forth
- Keep your chest up throughout the entire exercise.
- Use the arm of the side you are jumping to to help propel you
- Stay smooth and controlled
- Jump as far as you can, go for it
- Keep your knees bent to maximize propulsion
- Stay low and be light on your feet
You can complete the exercise with your back foot touching the ground each rep. For more of a challenge, you can keep your back leg off the ground
3 Common Mistakes
1. Small jumps
If you take small jumps side to side, speed skaters may feel awkward and will be ineffective. Jump as far as you can side to side, which builds better momentum and makes the exercise much more challenging. Because the exercise is plyometric, it requires that you are as explosive as possible. The more explosive and the further you jump, the more you will get out of the exercise.
2. Not using arms for balance and explosiveness
To improve your explosiveness and rotational power, you can use your arms to help propel you from one side to the other as you jump. Your arms act as a counter balance to your legs to keep the exercise smooth.
3. The jumping leg does not drive behind the opposite leg
While there are different variations of speed skaters like touching the ground with the back leg or keeping it off the ground, the back leg always goes behind the front leg. So you are not shuffling your legs side to side.
If you give this exercise a try, it may feel a bit awkward at first before you get the balance right. Keep in mind because speed skaters are plyometric, so they are a more advanced and intense exercise.