(The Gear Loop) - Can you hear that? It's the distant call of the mountains, beckoning you to dust off the skis or snowboard and hike up the tallest and steepest peak you can find. But it's been a long time since we've been able to enjoy fresh powder, so it's understandable that many snow sport enthusiasts are chomping at the bit. However, it's also been a long time since many of us used the muscles required to bomb down black runs.
Surely the only thing worse than no snow at all is finally getting to the frozen stuff, only to call it quits early due to fatigue or worse, sitting injured watching everyone else enjoying themselves. For this reason, it's a good idea to activate and strengthen those body parts before packing your passport, your goggles and your après-ski boots.
Strength, stability, and balance are all crucial physical skills for any winter sports trip. These exercises will not only guarantee that you could take on any tree and win, but they will help to ensure that the only thing on ice is the champagne and not your strained ligaments, torn muscles, or broken bones. Of course, getting plenty of cardio under your belt with trail runs or bike rides is also beneficial.
Mark Laws, PT Development Coach for Future Fit Training and Meglio ambassador, has opened up his top secret training diary and constructed a workout that's specially designed to hone in on the most important muscle groups for winter sports, targeting the powerful hamstrings, glutes and quads, as well as beefing up the core for increased stability on the slopes.
Better still, you don't need to invest in expensive equipment, as most of the following can be performed on a mat and with the aid of a simple, inexpensive Swiss ball, which can be purchased from Meglio.
The Winter Sports Workout
Take a large step so one foot is in front of the body, and the other is behind. Keep your weight evenly distributed between both legs - hold on to something sturdy if you are struggling to balance or add load if you are more confident. Lower the body down towards the floor in a smooth motion and drive back to the start position. Repeat both sides. Aim for 8-12 rep per side.
Lay on the floor and pull your feet up towards your backside. Push your heels down in to the floor and thrust your hips up towards the ceiling by squeezing your glutes (bum cheeks) as tight as you can. Control the movement on the way down and repeat 8-12 times. To progress this, you can elevate your feet up on to a bench or box or go up with two feet on the floor and come down with just one foot touching the floor - if doing these, alternate legs each time.
Start with feet together. Keep your eyes fixed on the wall in front of you and make sure your chest is always parallel to the same wall. Step one foot out to the side, hinge at the hips and lower yourself down as far as you feel comfortable and then step back to the start position. To make the movement easier, reduce the width or depth of the lunge, and to make it more difficult add load or increase the width/depth. Repeat 8-12 times per side.
Stability Ball Curl
Lay on the floor with your heels resting on the top of a stability or Swiss ball. First, you need to get in to a bridged position by pushing your heels down into the ball at the same time as pushing your hips up to the ceiling - creating a straight line from your heels, through your knees, hips, spine, and shoulders. Hold that bridge position by squeezing your abdominal muscles hard and then lower down to the floor until you feel confident. Then, once in the top position keep your hips locked and pull your heels up to your backside by bending at the knees before straightening the knee and then lowering the hips down to the floor. Repeat 8-12 times.
Lay on the floor on your side, with one elbow directly beneath the shoulder. Push your hips up towards the ceiling, creating a straight line through the middle of your body in a side plank position. Hold for a few seconds and slowly control the descent back to the start position. To make it easier, elevate your elbow onto a bench or box to reduce the load. Alternatively, make it harder by adopting the side plank position and tuck the knee of your top leg up towards your chest for a few seconds. Repeat 8-12 times on each side.
Stability Ball Rollout
Kneel on the floor in front of a stability ball. Hold your palms together with your fingers touching half-way up the ball. Keep your hips and elbows locked and roll the ball away from you slowly. Start by moving just a few inches at a time until you are confident about going further. Aim to roll far enough for your shoulders to allow your arms to be directly above your head. To make it easier reduce the distance, and to make it harder, make sure the line from your knee to shoulder is completely straight at all times … or try it on your toes. Repeat 8-12 times.