I have a gym in my house that I work out in. I train to prevent injury and strengthen the muscles I use to pull tricks. I’ve had so many injuries over the years and I’m really just trying to protect what I’ve got left. I don’t lift weights to get big or anything like that – I'm not trying to be a tough guy.
– Danny Way
Click the links below to go straight to the different exercises for skateboarding, but make sure you read through the information in this section first to make sure you optimise your progress instead of potentially doing over your skating!
The human body wasn't designed for skateboarding, especially on concrete, and puts massive stress on your joints, tendons, ligaments, and everything in between. Your muscles act as mini force-fields around your joints and the stronger they are and better prepared for skateboarding they are, the more impact and pressure they'll absorb; minimising how much is placed on your joints. The most common injuries skateboarders deal with occur at the ankle and knee joints and by building up the strength in the structures surrounding these joints (and in your whole body), not only will you have extra protection against common sprains and strains whilst you skate, but you’ll minimise the chances of more serious injuries and joint degeneration over time, allowing you to keep skating as you get old and saggy.
In terms of learning new tricks strength training arguably isn’t that necessary. The total number of push-ups in the skate world possibly hasn’t gone much past 12 this year and look how much skateboarding has evolved; these days every skatepark has a little bastard that can flip in, flip out of anything. Getting better at skating relies more on just practising your shit, over, and over, and over again, along with having the balls to actually stick what you're trying. However, this doesn’t mean working out can’t improve how you skate and in fact, it can make a big difference in terms of things like increasing pop, increasing balance and stability so you can hold your slides, grinds, and mannys for longer, along with maintaining proper alignment throughout your body which will not only help your skating but protect you from injury. It can also increase your energy levels and endurance so you can try your trick for longer and stay on point for longer, along with reducing any extra lard you might have that’s making every slam hurt just a little bit more.
If you're rehabbing an injury you should consult a doctor or physiotherapist to get specific info on what exercises you can and can't do or shit really might hit the fan (best saying ever, just picture it). Also if you feel any pain at any point during the exercises you should stop straight away.
Here are just a few of the benefits of different types of strength training:
In general, to increase your strength you pretty much just need to move things that are heavier than what your body is used to, be it some weights in a gym, some bags of tomato tins in your own home made gym, or simply your own fat ass. The human body is built to adapt and the concept of gaining strength is just your body's way of adapting to be able to handle more stress.
It might not seem like it, as you don’t see many skaters blasting it out in the gym, but skateboarding requires a lot of strength; to get you off the ground, to absorb the heavy impacts from jumping down big stuff and to constantly maintain your balance. Increasing your strength, if done right, will train your body to handle all of these things, making it better adapted for when you go skate.
If you imagine you’re outside in the rain and all you’ve got is one of those tiny umbrellas you get in a Pina Colada, no matter where you move you’re going to get soaked, but if you upgrade to a normal umbrella or a beach umbrella you’re able to move around much more without getting wet. In the same way, increasing your strength allows you to abuse your body further by giving you greater protection and covering you against more pressure and more forceful movements.
In the same way you should warm up for skateboarding, you should warm up before doing any kind of strength training too. A couple of the main reasons for a warm-up are to protect your body from injury and to make it more efficient - essentially making heavy things not so heavy. Your warm up might consist of:
Five minutes of some kind of cardio (related to what you're going to do)
Dynamic stretching/muscle activation techniques, warm-up sets (sets that build up to the weight you want to lift)
You can check out how to warm-up in much more detail on the skateboarding warm up page where you'll find lots of dynamic stretches for skateboarding which can just be done for this warm-up too.
Also, make sure you're not exercising on an empty stomach or just after a big meal; this will make sure you've got the energy you need to get through it.
fundamental training principles.
Whenever you start any training program you need to make sure you apply these fundamental training principles to make sure you actually make progress. Ignoring these principles won't just slow down your progress, but could actually negatively affect your skating too. Click the green link above for a full article and video going deep into these principles.
Good form is super important when you're strength training and developing bad habits will not only have negative effects on your skating but could do your body over in different ways too.
A big part of increasing strength - especially when you start - is neurological. Meaning that if you practice good form you'll train the right muscles to fire at the right time, and more fibres within those muscle to fire simultaneously, meaning more strength for the same work. Every movement we do is a result of training our muscles to work together when we want them to. If you haven't trained a movement before, you probably won't be able to do it too well; that's why it's so hard to write with your other hand or master baking with your feet. If you practice an exercise like a squat with the correct posture then the movement patterns you've used, and muscles and fibres you've trained to fire at the same time will carry over to your skating.
Next time you go skate and you're squatting down to do a trick, focus on how much of a difference it makes if you keep your body-weight evenly distributed over your board as opposed to leaning forwards or sideways.
The exercises you choose should be related to the things you're doing the exercises for, otherwise you'll just be wasting your time. If your dream is to build an ass like Mulher Melancia (The Watermelon Woman - a Brazilian legend, check her documentary on Vice) then doing press-ups isn't going to help. You need to choose exercises for skateboarding. Exercises that are either similar to the movements in skateboarding or exercises that strengthen the muscles you use.
With building strength it's all about slowly progressing. You can make big progress with just bodyweight exercises, they can help you build a solid foundation that will protect you from injury, increase your pop, strength and resilience. But, down the line if you want to start making big differences on your power and how high you can pop, then you will probably need to combine bodyweight exercises with weighted ones to keep progressing; you'll need to start using weights, or filling your pockets with rocks or food tins.
rest & recovery.
Almost as important as the actual exercises for building strength is rest. Skateboarding and working out literally damage your muscles and if you keep pushing them without giving them time to repair, they'll get weaker, and you'll get injured. You should wait until the muscles you want to exercise no longer feel sore before exercising them again.
For more detailed info on recovery check the recovery page.