OKAY, we get it. You’re a thrasher. Like the Z-Boys, the ’70s Los Angeles teen punks who started it all, you’ve got no time for rules and restrictions — you’re too busy grinding down the convention, upending the establishment, and running from the cops. Working out? You don’t have time for that!
Freedom — the bracing feel of it as you carve through the asphalt — is something that skaters cherish to this day. “Kaya marami ring may gusto [mag-skate],” comments Kiko Meily, an LA-based skater. “Dun sila free. Di siya parang organized sport na may sinusundan, [na may] kailangan kang gawin. Pag nag-skate ka, kung ano’ng gusto mo, yun lang.”
Compare skating, then, to the kind of fitness that you read about in this very magazine — with reps, weights, rules, and written-down instructions. Following a set of protocols? It’s the antithesis of what a skater is. There’s seemingly no space atop the grip tape for workouts or strength and conditioning coaches. Between bombing out tricks on a skateboard or sweating it out in the gym with a kettlebell, to a dedicated skater, it’s no contest.
Still, no matter how far fitness may be from many thrashers’ minds, it’s absolutely integral to the way they operate. Riding a four-wheeled piece of wood down a winding hill or through a barrage of flip tricks demands exacting technical expertise and a body built well enough to wield it.
“You’re on top of a board, moving at 80, 100 kilometers an hour,” says Gerard Cancio, the country’s top longboard racer, who’s been a consistent champion at the annual Gravity Games. “What’s important is leg strength and balance, which comes from your core.” Before he was a longboarder, Cancio had played high-school and college football for eight years — an experience he credits with granting him certain advantages in leg strength and endurance. More important, he credits football with giving him a greater awareness of the level of fitness that skating demands from the human body.
Take the ollie, for example. Hang around the odd corners of Bonifacio Glocal City or Kapitolyo Park on weekends, and this is the move you’ll most often see locals trying to pull off, complete with a hard clack as they nail a landing, or the occasional thud as the trick is botched and a body kisses concrete. It’s the basic skate stunt, the foundation of many street-skating moves.
From the outside, an ollie looks like magic: A skater braces his legs and, with a jump, both rider and board are lifted into the air. In reality, the skateboard’s tail is kicked down, sending the nose up and the whole board flying into the air; the skater then ties that simultaneously with a jump, using the friction between the grip tape and his shoes to control the board’s momentary flight.
For a novice skater, the ollie is very difficult to master. It requires a complex interaction between your gear, your technique, and your body. According to a joint study from the University do Vale do Rio dos Sinos and the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul in Brazil, however, it’s estimated that 76.3 percent of your ollie’s performance is determined by lower-limb power, and only 23.7 percent is associated with technique and gear. In other words, the stronger and more stable your muscles are, the better you can do tricks.
“Skating definitely targets your legs,” confirms coach Julio Veloso, M.Ex.Sp.Sc., C.S.C.S, head trainer at Focus Athletics in Makati. “If you want to break it down into muscle groups, it’s going to be your quads, your hamstrings, your calves. Kasama na diyan yung hips and glutes. Secondly would be your core musculature — abs, lower back, and obliques.” Some distinctions must be made, too, between the more trick-based and the more racing-based scenes of the skating world. The street and vert skaters, for example, would need to work on their power, while the longboarders and downhill bombers have to focus on their endurance.
If you’re a skater looking to aerodynamically sculpt your body to go faster and better on the board, then the workout on these pages should be right up your alley. It incorporates skateboards and environmental obstacles that skaters usually encounter. “If [skaters] want to take it to the next level and go to competitions,” says Veloso, who designed the program, “I’m pretty sure a good strength and conditioning program would help them.” But don’t go too hardcore on us, bro — keep the Z-Boy spirit alive, whether on the street or in the gym. “Skating is fun, and it’s meant to be fun,” stresses Cancio. “And the essence behind that fun is freedom.”
Build Skate-Park Strength
This workout plotted by Julio Veloso, M.Ex.Sp.Sc., C.S.C.S., head trainer at Focus Athletics, is designed to make you stronger as you thrash your skateboard or ride your longboard around. Perform each exercise for the rep range given, resting 30 seconds after each set. Complete all sets before proceeding to the next exercise.
You’ll be using two plyo boxes of equal height for this exercise. Place them around a meter away from each other. Stand on top of one, step off the edge, and jump down to the ground, landing in a squat position. Quickly jump up to the other box, landing in a squat position as well. That’s one rep. Do 2 to 3 sets of 8 to 10 reps each.
Single-leg Hurdle Hop
Stand on your left leg and raise your right leg slightly above the ground in front of a knee-high hurdle. Jump over the hurdle and land on your left leg, still keeping your right leg up. That’s one rep. Do 3 to 6 reps per leg, for two sets.
Two-Point Hold Body Weight Squat
Stand on your skateboard or longboard. With both arms stretched out, lower your body by bending on Your knees and pushing your hips back, going as low as you possibly can. Hold the position for 10 to 30 seconds. Slightly move your body up until you’re in a quarter-squat position (as if you’re about to sit on a chair) and hold that stance for 10 to 30 seconds. That’s one rep. Do 5 to 6 reps.
Assume a push-up position with your hands placed on both ends of your skateboard. Do a push-up. next, roll the skateboard slightly to the right and then to the left before returning to the starting position. That’s one rep. Do 2 to 3 sets of 10 to 12 reps each
Body Saw Plank
With your feet resting on a skateboard, go on a plank position with your elbows on the floor. Use your core to roll yourself forward and hold that position for two seconds; next, roll yourself backward and hold that position again for two seconds. That’s one rep. Do two sets of 8 to 10 controlled reps each.
Stand on top of your skateboard with your weight resting on your left foot and your right foot raised off the board. lower yourself by bending your left knee and pushing your hips back, going as low as you can, then return to your starting position. That’s one rep. Do 5 to 8 reps for each leg. Perform two sets.
Lie down on the floor with both feet resting on the edge of your board. Thrust your hips up, rolling the skateboard toward your body, then return to the starting position. That’s one rep. Do two sets of 10 to 12 reps each. if this is too difficult, you may also do this with one leg, at 5 to 8 reps for each leg per set.
If you don’t have a suspension trainer, find a bar that’s approximately hip high. Stack two boards on top of each other, and place both legs above them. Grab the bar with an overhand grip, keeping your arms straight. Pull yourself up until your chest is close to the handles of the suspension trainer or bar, then go back to the starting position. That’s one rep. Do 2 to 3 sets of 6 to 12 reps each.