Train Like a Pro with Ashley Wagner and Adam Rippon

Train Like the Pros: Ashley Wagner and Adam Rippon
Photos: Ryan Kelly / Daily Burn 365

We all get by with a little help from our friends, but last week, we met two friends who are doing a little better than simply getting by. Figure skaters Ashley Wagner and Adam Rippon have had a beyond stellar season — Wagner earned the silver medal at the World Championship in April, ending a decade-long medal drought for the American women, and Rippon won his first National title in January.

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En route to the 2016 Skating With the Stars Gala to benefit Figure Skating in Harlem, the duo stopped by the Daily Burn 365 set to work out with us. Check out their epic rotational squat workout in the video above, then learn how these fierce friends keep each other motivated when the going gets tough.

Off-Ice With Champion Skaters Ashley Wagner and Adam Rippon

Do you think your friendship gives you a competitive edge?

AW: I think so. To be at this level of any sport is incredibly stressful, and so few people really understand what you’re going through. Unless you’re in the middle of it, it’s hard to gauge how difficult it is. To have Adam there and to be able to support him, it makes things a lot more manageable. We push each other, and we keep each other in check. When one person is really stressed out and having a tough day, the other one can bring the other one up. We feed off of each other’s energy and motivate each other.

AR: In a competitive sport, you use a lot of external factors to motivate you. The kind of skate you want to have, a certain placement. It’s good to have those external motivators, but the core reasons really need to be personal. And we remind each other of that daily.

You posted an awesome double unders video on Instagram a while back. Do you train together?

AW: Yes, every morning we warm up with 100 doubles in a row before we get on the ice. It gets the blood flowing, loosens us up and gets the muscles engaged and ready to go. Jumping rope is a full-body exercise and it’s really underrated for how hard it is! It took both of us a while to get to 100.

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What else do you do off the ice?

AW: A lot of plyometric work. We do a lot of off-ice drills and jumps to really get the lower body going.

AR: We do a lot of cardio, too. We try to incorporate [cardio and plyo moves] together. On the ice, you want to be as fast and light as possible, and you want to have really good stamina. So that’s really where we put a lot of our energy. We work with a lot of dance choreographers off the ice, and stretch to prevent injuries and to increase flexibility. We want to be really well-rounded athletes.

What makes someone a good workout buddy?

AR: Somebody that keeps the workout fun but also will buckle down and get the work done. If someone feels too focused, it can feel too intense sometimes. But if they’re all over the place, then you won’t get anything done. When we train together, we have a good balance of keeping it light but we also focus in on ourselves.

AW: I’d totally agree with that. You also need someone who’s going to tell you when you’re being a wimp. You can be mentally exhausted but physically you have more left.

How do you get yourself motivated to practice when you’re feeling tired?

AW: The best motivation is to know that if you don’t do it today, it’s going to be twice as hard tomorrow, and the day that, and the day after that. It’s only uphill. So getting it done today is ultimately the lazy option because you’re choosing to make it easier for yourself. I make sure I keep that momentum because it’s 10 times harder once I slow down.

AR: When Ashley and I train together, sometimes I’ll be more tired than her, and I can see her working, and I’m like, “she’s not letting up today, I can’t let up.” I think we feed off of that competitive fire to keep pushing. Before we know it, we did the workout for today, it’s over and we’re better for it.

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What would you tell to someone who has trouble getting out the door to go to the gym on busy days?

AR: The hardest thing is getting started. Just push yourself to make it happen once. And then the second time is easier. And then before you know it, you’re in a routine. We have our low times and getting back into our high season, the hardest thing is getting started again. You build that first workout up so much in your head that it becomes scary. But once you get that first one out of the way, it becomes manageable and realistic.

AW: [And] you don’t have to get into a gym — there are so many things that you can do at home. We’re on the road a lot, and there’s not always a gym available to us. We do [workouts] in our hotel room. You really have to work with what you have. If you have a couple spare 10 minutes during the day, use those 10 minutes. It doesn’t have to be one big chunk of training.

What has been the highlight of this past season?

AW: For me personally, getting that silver Worlds medal. It had been a 10-year drought since the US ladies have been on the podium. I had a season of highs and lows and to really push through a rocky season and come out on top — especially when it felt like so many people had written me off — was incredible. And then, to be in the area and watch [Adam’s] performance at Nationals, and watching him win his first national title. We both are kind of comeback kids. So many people have said that we’re too old, and to do this together, and to see him be able to achieve this — it’s icing on top of the cake.

AR: Winning my first national title has been the highlight of my own skating career but the highlight of my season was definitely watching Ashley win the world silver medal… It’s funny because you get nervous for your own performance but you also feel in control of the situation. You’re the master of your own destiny at that point. But watching somebody who you really care about go through that, it’s so stressful because you can’t control anything!

Adam, your signature move is the “Rippon lutz,” where you raise both your arms above your head while doing a triple lutz. What’s the origin story there?

AR: It was a time where a lot of quads weren’t being done so a lot of men were doing the same triples. I wanted to do something that would set me apart. 1988 Olympic Champion Brian Boitano was famous for doing a lutz with one arm over his head. And I wanted to build on that.

It’s a pretty cool legacy. Ashley, do you have any signature or favorite moves?

AW: No signature moves, but I really love split jumps. That’s my moneymaker. And I love triple flips.

What’s next for you both?

AR: We have the Stars on Ice tour coming up, and we have one more competition, the Team Challenge Cup Competition. We’ll both be competing on Team North America.

AW: And then vacation! We need a vacation!

AR: Then we’ll be training for an even better season.

AW: We’ll start training in July… and we’re both planning on working through the next Olympics. So that’s what’s on our horizon.

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