Pray For Pow! Train to Shred the Slopes this Winter
Ski And Snowboard Training Tips
If you’re among those people wondering where the heck the snow is hiding, you’re not alone. I’m as eager as anyone to get up into the mountains and shred the pow. And I’m prepared because of my training in the off-season. Are you?
To dominate the slopes you need to cover certain aspects of your fitness: a strong aerobic base, muscle endurance, core strength, balance, and power. A good training program can address all of these areas, helping you tear up the mountain and stay injury-free throughout the season so you can enjoy every day up through spring skiing.
Ski and Snowboard Training to Prepare for First Chair
Let’s address each component individually, starting with your aerobic base (cardio).
There are two types of cardio: aerobic and anaerobic. Aerobic means “with oxygen,” and to train this type of cardio, you need to perform low-to-medium intensity exercise for relatively long durations. Basically, this is traditional cardio. Set aside 30-60 minutes each week to work on steady state cardio.
If jogging on a treadmill for thirty minutes leaves you winded, your aerobic base needs work. Build up gradually, adding five minutes each week as your time allows. When you get to the top range (60 min), back off the duration of the workout and increase the intensity.
Week 1 – 30 to 35 minutes incline jog (3.0 incline, 5.0 mph)
Week 2 – 40 minutes incline jog (3.0 incline, 5.0 mph)
Week 3 – 45 minutes incline jog
Week 4 – 50 minutes incline jog
Week 5 – 55 minutes incline jog
Week 6 – 60 minutes incline jog
Week 7 – 30 to 35 minutes at higher incline (4.0) or faster speed (6.0 mph)
Week 8 – 40 minutes at higher incline/speed… etc
That covers your cardio endurance. Next up, muscular endurance.
If you’re new to weight training, building strength in your legs is going to be equally important to improving your strength endurance. You’ll want to train your legs in a variety of rep ranges. Sets of 3, 5, 6, or 8 repetitions are generally used to strengthen muscles. Sets between 8-12 or 12-15 are better for endurance. The lower rep range allows you to move heavier weights so you get stronger, while the higher rep range keeps your muscles under tension for longer, building endurance. You’ll need both on the slopes.
Start your lifting workouts with strength exercises in the 3-8 rep range with enough rest between sets (1-2 minutes) to recover fully. Good choice for strength exercises include goblet squats, barbell front squats, barbell back squats, deadlifts, barbell glute bridges, and split squats. Let’s use squats as an example.
Week 1 – goblet squat or barbell front squat 5×3, building to a heavy triple (2 min rest)
Week 2 – goblet/front squat 4×5, building to a heavy five with 2 min rest between sets
Week 3 – goblet/front squat 4×6 at heaviest weight used last week
Week 4 – goblet/front squat 3×8, building
Week 5, etc – repeat the cycle using 5# more than the last time
Week 6, etc – repeat the cycle using 5# more than the last time
Later in your workout, taper off the weight while increasing the reps and decreasing rest periods. This will increase metabolic stress, build endurance, and challenge your cardio capacity. This is also where you can have a little more fun with variety in your program by interchanging similar exercises instead of sticking to a major strength movement.
Week 1 – 3 rounds of kettle bell split squats (10/leg) and 15 swings, resting 1 min
Week 2 – 3 rounds of 5-10 box jumps and step ups (20, alternating legs), resting 1 min
Week 3 – increase to 4 rounds kettle bell split squats (10/leg) and 15 swings, resting 1 min
Week 4 – increase to 4 rounds of 5-10 box jumps and step ups (20, alternating), resting 1 min
Week 5 – decrease the rest between rounds of split squats and swings (30-45 seconds)
Week 6 – decrease the rest between rounds of box jumps and step ups (30-45 seconds)
Week 7 – do a circuit of all four exercises (split squats, swings, box jumps, step ups) for time
Week 8 – beat your time from last week
The idea with both the sample workouts above is to consistently progress from week to week, either increasing the number of sets or amount of reps, using a heavier weight, or performing the exercises faster and/or with less rest. This will challenge your body to get stronger.
Speaking of strength, your legs aren’t the only muscle you’ll need to work on to crush the mountain.
Your core is responsible for balance and power on the snow, but it needs to be strong first.
Core strengthening is about more than crunches, though. To build a bulletproof core, you’ll want to focus on plank-based exercises. Start with regular planks, then progress to side planks. Once you’ve nailed the form and built up to a solid minute in plank and 30-45 seconds per side, it’s time to add some movement in the form of push ups, which require you to maintain a plank while expressing strength and power with your arms. From there, farmer carries and anti-rotation presses are your next step.
Now that your core is bulletproof, let’s practice balance.
Exercises that isolate one leg at a time are key here: think lunges, split squats, single-leg deadlifts, and pistol squats.
Finally, we’ll need to build explosive power in both your legs and core.
Once your abs are strong enough to resist rotation, adding explosive rotational exercises into your routine will allow you to generate power to carve your way down the mountain.
Plyometric leg exercises like squat jumps, broad jumps, box jumps, plyo lunges, and skater/lateral lunges are all excellent to train leg power. For these exercises, keep the reps low and focus on pure power production: each rep should be executed at 100% effort. Keep the reps low (3-5 will suffice) at the beginning of your workout to prime your muscles, or you can use some of these exercises with higher reps (10-15) at the end of your workout as a finisher.
Explosive/plyometric exercises are also great for training your anaerobic system, which is used for all-out sprint efforts. Workouts using HIIT and EMOM (“every minute on the minute”) exercises will increase your anaerobic capacity. This means you’ll be able to push through the tough parts of each ski run. You’ll need both a strong aerobic base and a well-trained anaerobic response to conquer those black diamonds.
The ski training take-away:
If this sounds like a lot of work – it is. You’ll need to put in 2-3 days of resistance training, 1-2 days of sprint work, and one day of longer duration cardio. You’ve got to put in the work to see the results on the slopes, come ski season.
You can try to do all of this on your own.
Or, if you’re an action-taker, apply for custom ski/snowboard training.
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and find out if the program is a good fit for you.