Home  >  Magazine  >  Issue 19 : Nov/Dec 2007  > Columns  >  Fitness  >  Tune Up Before You Strap On And Drop In



By Travis Johnson, Ph. D.

Tune Up Before You Strap On And Drop In


As winter approaches, dedicated skiers and snowboarders make their way to the gym for a little pre-season conditioning while dreaming of flying through the fluffy stuff. Here are some training tips to help you get the most out of the white season in Japan.

The Fundamentals
Skiing and snowboarding require integrated body movements of multiple joints and muscles from a standing position. The best training takes place on your own two feet, since that’s where you’ll be on the slopes.

Squats and lunges are essential movements and you need to develop endurance strength for both. Try 15-20 repetitions (reps) per set, four or five sets, three to four times a week. Begin with body weight only, using external weights as your condition improves. The last couple of reps of each set should be quite challenging.

Swiss Balance Ball training is excellent for movement reflexes and strengthening your core, so grab a good book or video and start jamming on the ball. After a few weeks, you can get more specific with the following exercises.

For Skiers

A critical reflex of skiing is catching your balance sideways on one leg in an unstable environment—sometimes with a slight rotation.

Exercises (3 times a week)

 Step down sideways on one leg from a platform to a balance disc or BOSU (half balance ball). Try 15 times on each leg for three sets.  (Also try rotation: turn foot and body 90º while stepping.)
 Hop sideways on and off a BOSU or balance disc. Try eight times on each side for three sets.
 One leg squats. 10-15 times on each leg for three sets.

For Snowboarders

Snowboarders must be able to catch and maintain balance from shoulder width, semi-squat positions. Lower leg strength is also vital.

Exercises (3 times a week)

 Hop forward and backward onto and off a BOSU or balance discs. Eight times each side, three sets.
 Squat on a wobble board, BOSU or a couple balance discs. Fifteen reps, three sets.
 Strengthen calves by standing on a step with heels hanging off. Rise up onto the ball of your foot, pause and return. Fifteen to 20 reps, four to five sets.  (Try single leg also.)
 Strengthen shins by standing with a weight plate on your foot. Flex your ankle to lift weight and bring the top of the foot toward your shin. Fifteen to 20 reps, four to five sets.

Additional Training Tips

The nervous system works hard on the slopes to activate and coordinate muscles to keep you balanced, upright and moving.  Nervous system fatigue is the reason you feel so exhausted after a long day in the mountains. Balance training can help. Try standing on a wobble board or kneeling on a balance ball. Work toward two-minute intervals with one- or two-minute rest periods. Try five to 10 times, three to four times a week.

On training days make sure to warm up, followed by jumping and stepping exercises, then balance exercises and finally strength exercises. When the season starts, consider a day on the slopes a workout, and take time to recover before doing more training. Have a stellar season.