Speed skating provides unique challenges, as athletes must possess a combination of speed, strength and balance to fly around the curved track successfully. While hitting the ice is valuable for training, performing other forms of cardio can also help improve your race results. Not all forms of cardio are equally suited to speed skating success, however. An ideal cardio activity targets the muscle groups speed skaters use most, such as the quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, abs and hip flexors.
The quadriceps muscle group in the front of each thigh includes the rectus femoris, vastus medialis, vastus intermedius and vastus lateralis. Your quads are crucial for speed skating because they extend each leg at the knee and flex your leg at the hip. Indeed, your quads are integral in movements as simple as walking. Speed skaters can choose from many types of cardio to work this muscle group, including running, cycling and jumping rope.
Healthy hip flexors can help you develop a stronger and more efficient stride, so working these muscles is crucial for speed skating success. In addition to roller skating, you can work your hip flexors through cardio activities such as running, cycling and swimming. Some activities, including swimming, can leave your hip flexors tight and more susceptible to injury, so be sure to stretch your hip flexors to stay healthy.
Your glutes -- a group of muscles that include the gluteus maximus, gluteus minimus and gluteus medius -- promote movement at your hip, helping to extend, rotate, abduct and adduct your leg. Such movements are crucial for speed skating strides, so working your glutes through cardio is important. Running, jumping rope and biking, plus cardio machines such as the stair climber and elliptical, are smart choices for speed skater cardio training.
Your hamstring muscles -- the semitendinosus, semimembranosus and biceps femoris -- are located on the backs of your thighs. Many forms of cardio can help you strengthen your hamstrings for speed skating, such as running, swimming and using the stair climber.
Your abs help you maintain an efficient stride by preventing extraneous motion, and they can also help you keep your balance when navigating the tight turns of the speed skating track. Running, jumping rope and swimming can all help speed skaters develop stronger abs while providing a cardio challenge. Flex your abdominal muscles to keep them engaged and improve their strength.
Brian Willett began writing in 2005. He has been published in the "Buffalo News," the "Daytona Times" and "Natural Muscle Magazine." Willett also writes for Bloginity.com and Bodybuilding.com. He is an American Council on Exercise-certified personal trainer and earned a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from the University of North Carolina.