For those embracing the start of winter, it is safe to say that the snow sport season is upon us! Skiing, snowshoeing, and snowboarding are great activities to stay active during the winter months, but the workout they provide can be underestimated. Incorporating the exercises outlined here into a workout routine now will not only maximize your fun in the woods, on the trails, and on the slopes, but will help you increase your strength, gain flexibility, and reduce your chance of injury.
Muscles Targeted with Snow Sports
Snow sports predominately involve the lower body, and ask for a high degree of core strength and stability. Your quads, hamstrings, glutes, hips, and core will be the primary groups of muscles involved in your activity, while your upper body and balancing ability will be tasked with a supporting role. By consistently involving the exercises below in your exercise routine, you can rest assure that the muscles involved in your snow sport are adequately prepared for the season.
5 Exercises for Winter Sports: Strength and Injury Prevention
1. Body weight squat
Primarily viewed as a complete lower body movement, squats prepare you for a wide range of winter activity. Strengthen your quads, glutes, and hamstrings while working to keep your core strong and stable.
Start with your feet at hip width apart, and imagine sitting down to a chair. Initiate movement by sitting your hips backwards, bend at the knees and keep your knees wide over your ankles. To stand, press through both feet equally while rising at the hips and shoulders simultaneously. Performed correctly, your entire lower body should feel worked.
2. Walking Lunge
Like the squat, you will work your quadriceps, glutes, and hamstrings with this exercise. Bringing in a greater range of motion, the walking lunge will definitely get your lower body ready for dynamic winter sports such as telemark skiing, skiing moguls, or splitboarding to name a few.
Standing with both feet together, step forward about one yard with one foot. Descend until your rear knee nearly touches the ground. Your posture should remain upright, and your front knee should stay above the front foot. Drive through the heel of your lead foot and extend both knees to raise yourself back up. Step forward with your rear foot, repeating the lunge on the opposite leg.
3. Glute Bridge
Aimed at the glutes and core, the glute bridge will ensure that your pelvic stability is ready to take on winter activities and help keep back pain at bay.
Lying with your back on the ground, position your feet flat about 6 inches in front of your hips. Drive through both feet evenly, raising your hips into the air. Hold briefly, then return your hips to the ground. Attempt to perform 3 sets of 10 raises.
Prepare your core to take on any winter activity you throw at it. Arguably the best core exercise, the plank will strengthen all muscles that encompass the core. Ready yourself for your winter activity of choice by trying to hold a plank with good form for 60 seconds.
To get the most out of the plank, position your body face down with your forearms on the floor. Keeping your core tight and your glutes engaged to support your pelvis, raise your knees from the ground. Your torso should be parallel with the floor. Attempt to keep your ribs pulled down towards your hips, and your belly button pulled up and in, to maximize your core utilization.
5. Step Up
Aimed at working the quads and glutes, the step up replicates the movements of snowshoeing or backcountry skiing. Work this exercise in if you plan on skinning uphill this season.
Keeping your chest up, push down through the foot you’ve set on a bench and bring your other foot up to lightly touch the bench. With control, lower yourself back to the starting position and repeat for repetitions. Your starting foot will remain on the step for the duration of your set. Aim for 3 sets of 10 repetitions.
Ryan Grey is Assistant Director of Fitness at the Greater Burlington YMCA. He holds a BS in Exercise Science from the University of Vermont and is a certified personal trainer. To learn more about fitness, including personal training, at the YMCA, contact Ryan at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 802-652-8183.