Preseason skiing: Getting fit
Editor’s note: This is the first of a weekly series that will appear every Tuesday in the Tahoe Daily Tribune.
Autumn has arrived. The weather has cooled off, the colors are turning, and the Sierra scenery is flat-out beautiful. This also is the perfect time to start thinking about ski season.
Really? No snow, you say?
Die-hard skiers realize that if they haven’t been working out already, this is the time to start preparing to hit the slopes and ski trails once the snowpack begins to build, which might not be that far away. Conditioning does make a difference for any skier or snowboarder. Your legs and body won’t be so tired at the end of a long day – not to mention later on in the season – and your chances of injury will be greatly reduced.
That’s the concept behind an eight-week Ski Conditioning Program series that is designed to help Alpine and Nordic skiers, snowboarders and other winter sports enthusiasts get ready for what hopefully will be a highly enjoyable season.
It all starts with a good foundation by having the right equipment and making sure that equipment is properly tuned – especially your own body’s equipment.
Step one is to ensure your personal well being. If you don’t already follow a consistent physical training program – regardless of your age – it would be advisable to consult a physician to make sure you’re ready to undertake a physical conditioning program.
If so, there are many possibilities to consider in terms of getting in shape for winter. Among the topics the Ski Conditioning Program series will touch on include stretching, working to develop various muscle groups to enhance endurance and improve your chances of staying injury, the benefits of good diet, and overall fitness.
A general checklist of things to consider might include:
— Your cardiovascular system. Any seasoned skier or snowboarder knows that trying to negotiate a mountain run at 8,000 or 9,000 feet can suck the breath right out of you, so a good goal would be to try and increase the supply of oxygen in the tank. Such aerobic activities as cycling, mountain biking, swimming, in-line skating, jogging or simply going out for a good hike would be a good start. How far you go depends on where you are fitness-wise. Don’t try to do too much too soon. A good rule to consider is to always listen to your body – if it starts hurting or becomes sore, consider backing off a little or maybe taking a day off to allow for some recovery.
— Upper and lower body exercising. Think of your body as a chain – it will only be as strong as its weakest link. Start by stretching to enhance flexibility, agility and endurance. Also, it is important not to neglect either your upper or lower body. Take the legs, for example. Don’t overlook working your quads; it is important to create endurance in the quads, especially if you enjoy powder skiing. While the legs are important, the upper body exercises will develop your core muscles and help make sure your body is stabilized. For that reason, the abdominal muscles are important. So is the lower back. Competitive Alpine and Nordic skiers all have specific core programs developed for them to prevent back issues from arising during their season.
— If you’re injured right now, whether it’s a knee or whatever, it’s important to consider other alternatives to develop some type of conditioning. Do searches on the Internet to find options for your specific condition. The important thing is to have a foundation in place so you’re ready to go when the legs are healthy again.
— Don’t underestimate the importance of diet. For one, eating well will help your body recover better from the workouts you’re doing. And, as mentioned above, good nutrition will help you recover from injuries faster. Your body needs fuel, and with better fuel, the chances of your engine running better and longer are greatly improved.
— Last, no matter what workout program you choose, be consistent with it. Working on conditioning is sort of like working on your suntan, because it gets a little bit better each day.
During the next eight weeks, this series will touch on these and other topics that will hopefully help guide you toward that enjoyable winter season.
So, get outside to work out a little – those autumn colors are beautiful right now.
– Dave Price is a veteran skier, runner, fitness expert and a former Tahoe Daily Tribune sportswriter.
Check with your local gym to see if it offers a ski conditioning program. Sierra Athletic Club is offering a six-week Ski/Board Conditioning Class that meets twice per week to work on ski and snowboard specific preseason training.
“Our classes will focus on cardiovascular endurance, overall strength training, flexibility and core training; essential for injury prevention and optimizing your on-mountain experience,” said Joe Pettit, Sierra Athletic Club owner. The cost is $119 per person and includes 12 one-hour classes, free ski and snowboard schwag and one lift ticket good at Sierra-at-Tahoe.
Moving the workout indoors
Outdoor training is great, but as the weather changes, you may want to move your pre-season workouts indoors. Look for fall specials at your local gym. In addition to extensive cardiovascular equipment, health clubs offer a variety of free weights and strength equipment to help you build up some natural armor and strengthen joints so you can endure the occassional on-mountan fall.
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