Getting Fit: Snow Sports

Get shred ready

Preseason training for success on the slopes

By George Sommerrock, Fitness Programs Manager

Ready, set … snow!

It’s time to start thinking about skis, snowshoes and snowboards.  Remember, preseason tune-ups aren’t just for your gear. They’re also for you! Before you hit the snow this winter, improve your strength, balance and stamina with an exercise routine tailored to help you enjoy the trails and slopes all season long. Added bonus: You’ll have more fun and experience fewer injuries. The following tips will prepare you for the snow, no matter your chosen sport.

Strength

How many times have your legs burned after the first run or two down the mountain? Make sure you have the strength to keep going all day with this exercise:

Single-leg eccentric leg press

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The “eccentric stage” of a lift occurs during the “negative” or “lengthening” part of an exercise. By slowing down that negative process—in this case, the down phase of a leg lift—we challenge our muscles in a different way and build strength. With eccentric (pronounced “e-centric”) leg presses, it’s critical to lower the weight slowly before pushing back up. To do this, load a leg-press machine with 60 percent of what you normally lift with both legs. Then, using one leg, lower the weight slowly. When you reach the bottom, press up with both feet. Do 10 reps and switch legs.

Balance

There’s no way around it—snow sports come with falls. Balance exercises activate the brain and body simultaneously. By engaging both systems, balance regimens train your brain and condition your core to keep you stable in all planes of motion. This is especially important in the fast-paced world of snow sports.

Single-leg balance

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Set a treadmill to a steep incline and a slow walking pace. Walk forward. With each step, balance on one leg and lift the opposite leg toward your chest. Bend your knee and grasp the upper shin with both hands, bringing your thigh toward your stomach. Balance as long as you can without running out of space on the treadmill. Plant your foot and switch legs.

Cardio, cardio, cardio

In the Pacific Northwest, most snow sports take place in the mountains. That means you’re exercising at altitude, where decreased oxygen levels create a higher heart rate and faster breathing. Increasing your stamina and cardiovascular fitness will allow you to cope with these demands more easily.

Running

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Warm up for your workout with 10–20 minutes of running on a treadmill. To increase your cardio and engage in a more difficult warm-up, set the treadmill to a moderate incline of 2 percent to 3 percent. You can also change it up with downhill running, an exercise that combines cardio and balance. Get outside and jog down a small hill. Downhill running improves opposing muscle balance and mimics the downward pressure of gravity experienced when skiing or snowboarding. When going downhill, avoid injury by leaning back to ensure your body-weight doesn’t extend over your knees.

Get in skiing shape with Xcelerate: Snow Flurry

The high-intensity Xcelerate program incorporates multi-phase workouts to increase strength and keep your body guessing. Xcelerate: Snow Flurry classes, with a special focus on snow sport training, will be held at noon on Mondays–Thursdays and are free for all members during November and December. Saturday bonus sessions will be held from 12–12:45 pm on November 12 and December 10. For more information, contact Fitness Programs Manager George Sommerrock at georges@wac.net or 206.839.4781.

Get more tips on preparing for snow season. WAC personal trainers Darrick Kung and Laura Heydrich show you how to improve your core and recover properly. 

As published in the November/December 2016 issue of WAC Magazine.

—Posted October 21, 2016

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