Weekend Warriors Beware
Either way, are you ready to hit the slopes? The most important question though, is your body ready? Preparing your body for the rigors of skiing and snowboarding is not only smart, it might protect you from sustaining an ugly injury that could sideline you from the entire season.
A 3- month pre-season conditioning program is optimal. But you can achieve an adequate level of conditioning in 3-6 weeks if you stay consistent with your work-outs.
The 3 areas you need to focus on are cardiovascular, strength and flexibility. Aerobic conditioning should be your first priority. You should commit to doing at least 5 days of cardiovascular exercise per week. Choose activities you enjoy such as running, biking or the cardio machines at your gym. Another option is sport-specific cardio drills that mimic the motions used in skiing and boarding. A minimum of 30 minutes, interspersed with high intensity sprints, will get you aerobically prepared for the demands of skiing and boarding.
Secondly, start working on your muscular strength, especially legs and core. Choose compound exercises, those that use several muscle groups at a time. A good strength-training program for the legs should include lunges, squats and hamstring work. The exercises you choose should be closed-chain exercises, meaning your feet are in contact with the ground. Closed chain exercises more closely approximate the movements we do daily and are considered more functional. For example, squats and lunges not only work the gluteals, but also the important stabilizer muscles. These stabilizer muscles keep the body balanced and protect the knees, ankles, hips and lower back from injury.
In addition to a well- balanced strength-training program, focus should also include core strengthening and balance work. All movements are initiated from the core. The core can be thought of as our strength and speed center. A strong core will dramatically improve your performance on the slopes with better balance, coordination, agility and strength. Core strengthening exercises should include back extensions, crunches and work on the stability ball.
Flexibility is the last area of focus and is a critical part of your program. Flexibility will improve your proficiency while skiing and also lower your risk of injury. After your cardio and strength-training, spend at least 10 to 20 minutes gently stretching your body paying special attention to the legs. Hold each stretch for 20 seconds. Make sure you stretch after your work-out, not before. A warm muscle will have greater flexibility and your stretching range of motion will be increased.
A little preparation goes a long way. You’ll appreciate your increased aerobic capacity and strength hours into your ski day. Your body will reward you with less aches and pains the next day. Have a great ski season; it’s short, sweet and oh so fun!
Darla G. Mazzoni
ACE Certified Personal Trainer
Sierra Athletic Club
Tahoe Keys Marina