Training and nutritional considerations for the artistic athleteJuly 28, 2017 | by Lisa Northrup
Artistic sports such as dance, figure skating, ice dance, gymnastics and synchronized sports involve athletes being judged on extreme precision and technique.
In order to advance in their art form these athletes spend endless hours attempting new skills, mastering technical moves, learning choreography and perfecting their routines. At the elite level, this can mean training multiple hours a day, six days a week, all year round.
At such high intensities of training, it’s important for artistic athletes to take precautions to avoid burnout, malnutrition and to prevent injury. Two important considerations to take into account are a strength and conditioning program and specialized nutrition plan.
1. STRENGTH & CONDITIONING FOR ARTISTIC SPORTS
On average, elite artistic athletes spend over 3hrs per day, 5-6 days a week practicing their respective sport/discipline. That’s over 18 hours a week – wow!
A proper strength and conditioning program should complement the sport-specific training sessions to ensure athletes have the strength, power, and muscular endurance to handle the demands of their sport, without burnout.
The Fortius ArtisticSTRONG strength and conditioning program is built around the foundational needs and demands of artistic sports. With an emphasis on movement competency and confidence, it focuses on movement quality, body awareness and sport specific strength.
“As a supplement to my on-ice training, the ArtisticSTRONG sessions have definitely improved my conditioning and has allowed me to increase intensity,” shared Nikolas Wamsteeker, a Senior level Ice Dancer.
“Strength and conditioning has helped me with my overall strength as a dancer,” added ArtisticSTRONG athlete Mackenzie Einarson, a senior elite level ballet and contemporary dancer. “I’ve learned a lot about which muscles to focus on in certain movements and correct placement of specific parts of my body.”
A proper strength and conditioning program should also focus on injury prevention, recovery and correcting potential weaknesses or movement inefficiencies.
“ArtisicSTRONG has helped keep me from getting injured by focusing on weak points and trying to improve them,” shared Alexander Lawrence, Senior level Figure Skater.
Visit our website to learn more about the Fortius ArtisticSTRONG program or call our Training Centre at 604.292.2502.
2. NUTRITIONAL CONSIDERATIONS FOR ARTISTIC ATHLETES
Special attention to daily nutrition will also play a key role in the success of the artistic athlete.
A balanced training diet is composed of lean protein for muscle tissue repair, carbohydrates to fuel training sessions, as well as healthy fats and antioxidant rich fruit and vegetables to help support the immune system and assist in muscle recovery.
TIMING IS KEY
Some artistic athletes, particularly figure skaters, synchronized swimmers and divers have concerns with stomach issues prior to training and may miss breakfast before an early morning session or avoid snacking before afternoon practices. This will often lead to inconsistent eating times, long hours without fueling resulting in fatigue. Carbohydrate rich liquids such as homemade smoothies with fruit and milk/yogurt or flavored milk or soy milk are more easily digested than solid foods and help prevent stomach upset during a training session.
PREPARE SNACKS AHEAD OF TIME
Generally, artistic athletes will also prefer to have small frequent meals as this will easily fit into their busy schedules of school, homework and long training hours. Athletes will often get used to eating on the run whether in the car, the locker room or in between back to back training sessions. Examples of meals and snacks that can be prepared ahead and eaten on the go are:
- Homemade muffin/ bar with milk or yogurt
- Tuna/ egg or leftover chicken sandwich
- Pasta and meatballs
- Quinoa and bean salad
- Fruit salad and yogurt
- Trail mix
- Hummus and whole grain crackers.
DON’T SKIP MEALS
A large component of artistic sport is also esthetics, making athletes more conscious about their body image and body weight. Restrictive low energy and low fat diets are popular among the artistic athletes but can increase risk of injury, weaken the immune system and can interfere with the normal growth and maturation pattern of young athletes, all which will negatively impact performance.
Parents and coaches play a key role in influencing the athletes’ nutrition avoiding too much attention to body weight and body image and encouraging a wholesome food approach to nutrition and fueling.
A sport dietitian can work with athletes on their individual nutrition requirements tailored to their specific training load, growth needs and performance goals, preventing nutrient deficiencies and promoting a positive body image.
Visit our website to learn more about Performance Nutrition or call 604.292.2501 to book an appointment.