Tom Schaar, 19, an eight-time X Games medalist from Malibu, California, prioritizes leg strength so his lower-body can absorb high-impact jumps. Schaar gained fame when, at 12 years old, he landed the first 1080 (three revolutions) in a competition and became the youngest to win gold at the X Games. His go-to lower-body move is the dumbbell goblet squat. (He uses an 80-pound weight.)
How to do it: Stand tall with feet at shoulder width and hold a heavy dumbbell by one end in both hands, with palms facing up and fingers wrapping up the sides. Lower into a squat until quads are parallel to the ground, then press up to return to start for one rep. Complete 4 sets of 6 reps.
Another way to help your body handle impact is with three-way lunges, says Matt Berger, a professional skateboarder based in Kamloops, British Columbia. The 25-year-old favors the exercise because it builds coordination and trains his hips, glutes, quads, hamstrings, and calves.
How to do it: Stand tall with feet wider than hips, holding a dumbbell in each hand by your sides. With the left leg, perform a forward lunge, side lunge, and pivot lunge (pivoting to the left and lowering into a lunge until the left quad is parallel to the floor), returning to standing between each. Repeat on the right side for one rep. Complete 3 sets of 12 reps.
To pop high and land confidently, skateboarders need strong glutes. “I’ve pulled mine before, which made me realize how important these muscles are,” says Mariah Duran, an Olympic hopeful on the U.S. National Team who’s based in Albuquerque, New Mexico. She strengthens them with mini bands.
How to do it: Stand tall with a mini band around both ankles and feet just wider than hips. Lower into a half squat and sidestep to the left for 3 steps, then to the right for 3 steps for one rep. Complete 10 reps.
The stronger your core, the more mobility, control, and power you’ll have when skateboarding, says Dan Lutheran, a professional street skateboarder based in Long Beach, California, who performs leg raises while training for events like the Vans U.S. Open of Surfing. The exercise engages the shoulders, arms, and the oft-neglected lower core. “No matter how tired I am, I do 100 reps every day,” the 23-year-old says.
How to do it: Rest your forearms on the armrests of a captain's chair with your legs hanging down. Keeping your core engaged and legs straight, raise your legs until they’re parallel to the ground, then lower them to start for one rep. Complete 5 sets of 20 reps.
Skateboarders are prone to ankle injuries, but strengthening them can minimize the risk. Duran bolsters hers with mini bands. “They’re so easy to pack when you’re traveling and don’t have access to a gym,” the 22-year-old says.
How to do it: Place a mini band around the balls of both feet, then stand tall with feet just as wide as your hips. Press into the balls of your feet, then flex the feet and lift the balls of the feet off the ground, almost as if you were rocking back and forth. Return to neutral, then shift your weight to the right side of both feet, then to the left, then back to start for one rep. Complete 8 sets of 10 reps.
Another cause of ankle injuries, as well as knee issues, is a lack of balance. Lutheran builds it by performing single-leg exercises on the Bosu ball. “It helps with all sorts of balance maneuvers when you’re trying not to fall over,” he says.
How to do it: Stand with your left foot planted firmly in the center of the Bosu ball (flat side down). Once you feel balanced, imagine a clock face and raise your right leg at 12 o’clock, 3 o’clock, and 6 o’clock, returning your foot to center between each and keeping your leg straight throughout. Repeat on the left side, raising your leg at 12 o’clock, 9 o’clock, and 6 o’clock. Continue alternating sides for 60 seconds. Repeat for 5 total sets.
Upper-body strength is important in the worst-case scenario: falling. “You often end up rolling and putting your hand out, so it helps to have a strong upper body and wrists,” says Lutheran, who uses the cable machine for this purpose.
How to do it: Stand with feet just as wide as hips with the machine to your left with the pulley attached at the highest position. Hold the handle in both hands above and just to the left of your left shoulder. Pull the cable across your body and down, keeping your torso forward and arms straight throughout, ending at your right hip. Reverse the motion to return to start for one rep. Perform 12 reps, then switch sides and repeat. Complete 3 sets.
Photo: Emily Winiker / Art Partner Licensing