When it comes to cardiovascular exercise or exercise to aid weight loss, high intensity interval training (HIIT) has been proven time and again to be the most effective training style. And well done, inline skating can be one of the most powerful HIIT training tools at your disposal.
High-intensity interval training consists of short bursts of total effort followed by a longer period of exercise at a more moderate pace. The most commonly recommended standard time is 30 seconds of total effort followed by 90 seconds of more moderate energy expenditure as you catch your breath and your heart rate drops a little again. This pattern repeats over and over again for a total of 15 to 30 minutes and offers far more benefits to your body and weight loss effort than much longer tips for steady-paced aerobic exercises like jogging.
If you’ve been doing cardio or even HIIT training on a treadmill at home or at the gym, it’s time to consider going out and putting on a pair of inline skates. For starters, running on an electric treadmill simply involves lifting your feet and lowering them back down as it passes the tread. On inline skates, you need to push out and back with each step, as you are providing the push to move forward, not an electric motor.
Similar to cross-country skiing in this regard, pushing out and back against road resistance activates the muscles of the entire back chain with each step. The day after your first 2-3 hour inline skating session will remind you, as you will be aware of how effectively you used your hamstrings, glutes, and lower back muscles.
Another factor is the weight of your inline skates. Your legs are used to lifting your shoes over and over again every day, even when you’re jogging or running. In most cases, however, the leg muscles are not used to lifting shoes that weigh as much as skates will. It’s not a big deal, but it all helps when you’re looking for conditioning or burning fat, right?
So how do you turn an enjoyable time on your skates into HIIT training? The first method is the same as standard HIIT training: hill sprints. Find a paved road or street with a hill that is steep enough that it takes about 30 seconds to climb to maximum effort levels. Skate with full force upward, then slow down to a comfortable pace and go a little further, then reverse your direction and calmly skate back to the bottom of the hill before sprinting back into a sprint.
However, the second way can be more interesting and can be practiced anywhere you go on your lines: a path, a track, wherever. After a comfortable warm-up session, take the pose of an ice speed skater. Lean forward until your upper torso is parallel to the floor and place one hand on your lower back, palm up. Let your free arm hang down and roll it back and forth laterally in front of you as you step for balance.
This maneuver should only be used by experienced inline skaters wearing their helmet and full pads, as you will most likely find yourself going much faster than you are used to. As you get used to the proper form of speed skating, you will be able to lean a little further forward, requiring faster and longer strides and moving forward even faster. Even very experienced skaters will be surprised at the oxygen requirements when skating in this manner, and will find that oxygen is being depleted very quickly. Straighten up again and skate comfortably for a minute or two until your heart and breathing slow down, then do another 30-second sprint.
A word of caution … Like any extreme exercise session, HIIT training should only be done by those who are already somewhat fit. If you’re just starting your path to a physical lifestyle, stick with recreational inline skating until you’ve gotten your skates good and you’ve reached a better level of fitness. New activities that deplete your oxygen stores can be dangerous, even deadly, until you know how to assess what you can and cannot handle in your current condition. As with all forms of exercise, start low and build up from there!