If your passion is skiing or snowboarding it make sense to do a little bit of prep work before you go. Whatever level you are at, unless you are skiing on a daily basis, you need to get fit. I have highlighted the key components of your preparation basics of preseason training.
There are four fitness components that every skier and snowboarder should incorporate into his or her workout plan. Here’s what you need to know about each one.
1. Core Training
Both skiing and snowboarding rely heavily on balance and core strength, which help reduce your risk of falls, improve your posture and enhance your performance. Your core comprises of your abdominals, obliques, lower back and hips. You can strengthen these with targeted strength training exercises. These muscles also help your body remain stable and balanced during a variety of activities.
In addition to strengthening your core muscles, it’s a good idea to perform specific balance training exercises. These can range from simple beginner exercises like balancing on one foot to advanced moves involving a stability ball, BOSU ball or balance board.
- Train your core muscles 2-3 times per week (both pre-season and during the winter).
- Try at least one balancing exercise per session.
- Rest for one day between core workouts to allow those muscles to recover and repair.
2. Strength Training
Besides using your core, snow sports rely heavily on strong muscles and joints, especially in the lower body. The body mechanics of snowboarding and skiing involve using the knee and hip joints repetitively, which means that the muscles surrounding those joints (hamstrings, quads, glutes, calves, and more) need to be strong and have endurance. Skiers also need upper body strength in the triceps, shoulders, and back because of their use of ski poles.
Here’s one technique that may help skiers and snowboarders build both strength and endurance in these muscle groups:
- Use light to medium resistance and a higher number of repetitions to help train your muscles for strength and endurance that these sports require.
- “High reps” doesn’t mean 50-100 repetitions with three pounds of weight. You should still pick a weight that is challenging enough to fatigue your muscles within 10-15 reps.
- To help build greater strength and endurance, drop the weight by 20%, for example, after you’ve reached failure and try to squeeze out a few more reps.
- Try supersets, which means trying two to three different exercises for the same muscle group in a row (without resting), such as squats followed by lunges followed by a leg press.
- Strength train these specific muscle groups 2-3 times per week (both pre-season and during the winter).
3. Flexibility Training
If exercisers tend to neglect one thing, it’s stretching. Flexibility is one of the most important components of your winter sports conditioning program. Proper stretching helps reduce muscle tension, increases your range of motion and protects the joints that are used so often in these sports. Being flexible can directly help you in your fitness endeavours, it improves body awareness, enhances recovery, and may even help you improve your overall form and performance.
The most important muscles for skiers and snowboarders to stretch regularly include the hamstrings, quads, hips, calves, IT band, piriformis, and lower back. In addition, the upper back, chest and shoulders should also get attention, especially by skiers.
- Stretch at least 3-4 times per week (both pre-season and during the winter) after your muscles are warmed up.
- Ideally, stretching should be part of your workouts and winter outing.
4. Cardiovascular Training
Last but not least: don’t forget to train your heart and lungs. Cardiovascular (aerobic) exercise helps build the endurance you need to make it through a long day of activity at higher altitudes. When you’re in good shape, you’ll be more alert, less fatigued and therefore less likely to make a mistake that could result in injury.
There’s tons of fun activities that can build aerobic endurance such as, running, swimming, skipping rope, aerobics, climbing stairs, cycling, kickboxing, and more. It’s a good idea to select a variety of these activities for best results.
- Try a combination of steady-state exercise (where you maintain a constant heart rate during your workout) and intervals (where you alternate between high-intensity bursts like sprints and lower intensity recovery periods).
- Do cardio 4-6 times per week for 30-60 minutes per session.
- Long sessions (over 30 minutes) are vital for helping you build the endurance you need for skiing and snowboarding.
- If you’re a beginner, start with fewer days and less time and gradually work your way up.
Putting it all together
If you want to be a better snowboarder or skier, then sports-specific training is going to help you. The recommendations above may seem like a lot, but they fit in with the general fitness recommendations for all people. Keep in mind that you can do core strength, flexibility and cardiovascular training in a single day or on multiple days, just find a combination that works best for you. Start today and you’ll be in excellent shape by the time winter rolls around. That means you’ll stay injury-free, keep up with your friends, and not let fatigue prevent you from joining in on the fun. How’s that for motivation to stick to a workout program?
I draw your attention to an excellent website by Dr Langran who is a GP Aviemore Medical Practice in Scotland. Mike has an obvious passion on skiing and a dedicated physician. His website is full of helpful information and guides to avoid injury. If you want all the stats he has that to.
Happy skiing and snowboarding! If you want any further advice on this article or any niggling injuries prior to your trip please give us a call. We have the facility to arrange one to one personal training sessions with our partner groups.
Call 01457 837 211 to arrange an appointment.