Around here, we’re fond of saying that ANY day is a great day to start the year right, since every day can start a new year. But for skiiers and snowboarders in the northern hemisphere your skiing or snowboarding season should start now with sport-specific training. By starting your training now, you can help ensure this is your best year yet for alpine skiing, cross-country skiing or snowboarding this winter.
All over the world snowboarders and skiers, both alpine skiers and cross-country skiers, eagerly anticipate that first powdery snowfall. That bright, crisp day with the sun shining through and the sound & feel of your skis or board schussing through the snow as you make your way downhill or across the meadows fills your blood with adrenaline as your mood soars. Sound familiar?
But that first day on the slopes or out in the woods isn’t the start of the snowboarding season or skiing season for serious winter athletes – for them, the season starts about 3 months earlier as they start getting into top shape before opening day. If you want to have your best year yet and take your sports performance to the next level this year, start your weightlifting buildup about 12 weeks out and improve your conditioning and sport-specific strength non-stop til you first snap on your boots and bindings.
So just how do you effectively design your sport-specific training? First up, of course, is cardiovascular (cardio) work. You’ll be expecting a lot from your heart & lungs while you’re skiing or snowboarding – even more so if you’re participating at any higher elevations where the air is thinner. If you’re using a certified personal trainer to design your program, have them incorporate High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) into your routine for 3 or 4 half-hour sessions per week.
If you don’t have a personal trainer you can design your own HIIT workouts… Basically the idea is to have 30-second all-out bursts of exertion interspersed with 90-second periods of less-extreme activity. One example is to run uphill as fast as you can for 30 seconds, then jog for 90 seconds to get back to the bottom of the hill. Repeat this pattern non-stop for 30 minutes, then quit. This type of HIIT training will also go a long way towards burning fat you may have put on during the off-season, assuming you’re also following a healthy diet.
To know which weightlifting exercises you should focus on, thing of your body position when skiing or snowboarding. Your legs are bent and pumping up and down and your upper body is bent forward at varying angles. To keep your legs both strong and supple use squats, leg extensions and leg curls. Be sure you’re using full range-of-motion on each exercise to achieve maximum flexibility and keep the ligaments and tendons healthy and strong along with your muscles.
Keeping your upper body bent forward from your waist uses mostly the muscles of your lower back and, to a lesser degree, your abdominal muscles. Here you want to use either traditional deadlifts or Romanian deadlifts for your lower back and knee raises or leg raises for your abs. Don’t bother with sit-ups or crunches, since neither is nearly as effective as the raises.
Finally we come to your arm position if you’re a cross-country or alpine skier – your arms are extended holding your poles and rising and lowering to dig your poles in then free them from the snow. Moving your arms towards your body and back away involves your biceps and triceps, while raising and lowering your arms uses your shoulders muscles (deltoids, or ‘delts’).
Overhead presses, seated or standing, are best for your shoulders, dumbbell kickbacks and triceps pushdowns are good for your triceps, and any form of dumbbell curls or barbell curls are perfect for your biceps. Do those exercises in the order shown to keep from fatiguing any of the muscles you’ve yet to train.
As with any new exercise routines, be sure to check with your medical professional before starting your weight training and cardio – but if you’re an avid skier or snowboarder you’ll probably get the nod to start without any issues. Just be sure to start with light weights and work your way up as the 12 weeks progress. Schedule your weightlifting sessions for 3 non-consecutive days each week, and drop in your HIIT cardio training on the days you aren’t going to be in the gym.
By starting the year right with three months of sports-specific training you have a much better chance of enjoying your best skiing or snowboarding year yet while minimizing your risk of injury and muscle strains – assuming you stay upright, of course! Your cardiovascular system will be stronger allowing for longer runs or further distances and you’ll minimize that all-too-familiar next-day soreness that plagues the start of every season on the slopes, snow-covered fields or half-pipe. As a side benefit, chances are your new physique will turn a few heads at the apres-ski parties as well!
So start the year right for your fun on the snow this winter by getting into good shape and preparing you body now. If you’re not familiar with the exercises mentioned here you can find them by searching YouTube or Google – plenty of videos of each of these exercises can be found quickly online. You’ve spent a lot of money getting the right equipment for your alpine skiing, cross-country skiing or snowboarding – now start your sport-specific traing with HIIT and weightlifting to have your best year yet!