If you are a Roller Derby skater, you already know that it is a constant fitness test. In case you want to be a Roller Derby player, you need to know this and commit to it. At the very minimum, you have to commit to 30 minutes x five days a week of doing a high-intensity cardio activity of your choice. This activity could be biking, jogging, kickboxing, or using an elliptical. You also have to add 30 minutes, five days a week of strength training. This training should focus on building lower body strength (lunges, squats, calf raises).
The aim is to improve your overall performance. So your roller derby workout routine has to be a mix of cardio, lower body exercise, abdominal or core exercise, and exercises for the back. Also, include some upper body exercises for better balance. Floor exercises with skates increase weight and get better results.
Below is a list of must-do exercises. Remember before you start to make sure you have enough space for the lunges, a 10-15 pound barbell of weight, and a timer.
Best Exercises for Roller Derby
Before and after any workout, you need to ensure that you do your stretches! Stretching should ideally be done every day, even on non-workout days! Specifically for Roller Derby, strengthening the Tensor Fasciae Latae is extremely important. It is a thigh muscle that helps the body keep balance when walking, running, and skating (outward rotation of the leg that is intrinsic to every skating stride).
The Hamstring is another muscle that needs constant work to stay supple at all times. Both these muscles are crucial to skating, and stretching is a must to avoid them cramping or tightening to the point where you end up in pain or with restricted movement.
This exercise is probably the most intimidating of all, not just because it is an Olympic and bodybuilding lift! The reason it is scary to do is that, if not done correctly, it causes injury. Yet, this exercise is an absolute must-do because it is a core exercise (builds full-body strength), and many trainers call this the best workout exercise ever. It is a compound exercise in that it works all the groups of muscles at one go. This combined use of all muscle groups allows you to lift heavier weights, which helps you build more muscle power.
For Roller Derby skaters, the deadlift is especially helpful because it works your full posterior chain, including all the muscles in your back and legs. Ideally, do the deadlift twice a week, when you are well warmed up, never at the start or end of your exercise routine.
There are many deadlift variations; however, Romanian deadlifts, sumo deadlifts, and single-leg deadlifts are the best ones you should train. You need to create a workout schedule that includes all the variations.
3. Squat (Squat with Weight, Squat Jump)
Squats are also among the best great overall exercises, especially for skaters, because they activate the core and all the main muscle groups. The action of rising from a bottom position in a squat gives the explosive power and acceleration to on-skate movements. Squats that last a minute and more helps develop muscle memory and increase strength and balance.
Squats are essential to buildup leg muscles and core strength. They also work the glutes, hamstrings, quads, muscles in your feet, and calves. Building these muscle groups gives the skater more power and stability.
Ideally, do your squats immediately after warmups. To build your strength, you should do them in multiple sets of 20 or more squats. You can bring in variations of the Squat after you complete your basic set of Squats. Plyometric squats are essentially squat jumps and best done a maximum of 2-3 times a week. Limit Powerlifting squats with a (high weight) barbell to not more than 2-3 times a week. Single-leg squats are hard to do but worth including in your routine, and you do not need any equipment for it.
Lunges are an absolute must for skaters because Derby players spend hours each week in derby stance, which shortens your psoas (the muscle that lets you bring your leg to your chest). If you spend too much sitting or too much time in derby stance, the psoas tightens up, resulting in hip-tightness, as well as low back pain and the cramping and shortening of other muscular-skeletal structures. Lunges build knee stability, foot, and ankle strength, strengthen the glutes, and build power.
A lunge is another compound exercise – hitting many muscles at the same time. Lunges need never get boring because there are so many variations you can include. You can do forward or backward lunges, 45 degrees, or side lunges, or lean over lunges, and many more.
During your routine, whether you do lunges depends on what kind of lunges you choose. If you are engaging in walking lunges, include them as part of the warmup. Include weighted lunges and plyometric lunge jumps, after a practice session, or on designated days only. Make unweighted lunges (10-30 lunges) a part of your daily workout.
5. Single-Leg Balance
Now here comes the holy grail of skating exercise! Have you ever tried climbing stairs with your eyes closed? Or ever tried doing any physical exercise/activity while blindfolded? You think it is an easy thing to do, then you try it and lose your balance and fall over!
The Single-Leg Balance exercise marries foot and ankle strengthening with an awareness of your body in space (proprioception). This exercise is essential for skaters. The Single-Leg Balance strengthens the small stabilizer muscles in your lower leg and improves your overall balance.
Ideally, do this exercise a few times a week. The best part of it is you can do this exercise at any place where you can take off your shoes and go into it.
6. Glute Bridge
All skaters have skater bubble butts, indicating that the booty muscles or the glutes are strong! Therefore it comes as a shock that when tested individually, gluteal muscles are often underutilized and therefore not working quite as well as they can. The bad part of this is that this creates a lot of dysfunction, forces other muscle groups to compensate, and results in lower back pain.
Glute bridge works and builds all the gluteal muscles, the gluteus maximus, minimus, and medius. Strong butt muscles give you longer strides and make your push more powerful.
Before every exercise session, you need to work your glutes for at least a full minute. Like with some of the other exercises discussed here, do glute bridges every time you, and the more you do it, the more taut and efficient the gluteal muscles get.
7. Plank (Core Training)
Planking, the exercise everyone loves to hate! There is no way a skater can avoid doing Planks as part of their daily workout. As an exercise, planning builds full-body strength and increases the player’s stamina and stability. It is a core exercise and works your quads, glutes, shoulders, and back. Side planks work your obliques and fix your side-side strength imbalance.
Planks are a challenge, and as a skater, you need to challenge yourself frequently! As hard as they are to do, one of the best things about planks is that you can do it anywhere and anytime. You don’t even need to warm up to do a set of planks. You can start or end with planks. Many variations address different muscle groups, and you should try and work in as many variations as possible.
Who does not know of the ubiquitous push-up? It is an integral part of every work-outs, and there is a good reason for that! The push-up is absolutely the best full-body exercise ever! Even though it takes strength to do, it gets your heart rate going, and it builds upper body strength. Push-ups help skaters build up and maintain balance, brace, and block, take hard hits, and break blocks! Planks with the push-up variations increase upper body strength and help you execute your push-up.
Push-ups are a must in your daily workout session. You can also do them first thing in the morning or whenever you can slip a couple into your daily schedule.
Cardio training is a must-do for every Roller Derby skater. The sport itself requires a skater to skate for hours sometimes. The only way to build the speed and endurance needed for professional skating is to ensure that cardio is part of your weekly workout program. 3-5 days a week, for 20-60 minutes at a time (you have to build up the time), is baseline endurance for a Roller Derby Skater.
The more you can manage, the better for you. To get maximum results from your cardio -training, experienced skaters will tell you to create a cardio-training session with a mix of short periods (20 seconds to 2 minutes) of high-intensity aerobic exercise, followed by periods (10 secs -3 minutes) of recovery.
Roller Derby is a sport that demands high energy, extreme muscle strength and is only possible with a well-planned exercise session. That’s why we shared this article on roller derby workout. It gives an overview of setting up your own workout plan. Research different working out options to understand the importance of including various exercises in your plan. Besides all this, skaters need to develop a positive attitude, including being a team player with a deep commitment to the game.