Growing up in Canada I was pretty fortunate to only be a quick 10 minute car ride from one of he best mountains in the world, Red Mountain in Rosaland, Britsh Columbia. I was also pretty lucky that I was given a lift pass every year to I could play in the snow whenever I could.
Even though, I've been doing this since 1996, if you're anything like me, your muscles are still going to be in for a shock the first day out on the mountain this year. Pretty much every year, the day after my first day on the the mountain, almost every single muscle in my body goes on strike for the next few days, even worse is mid way through my first few turns my calfs are in absolute agony for the rest of the day. But I suffer through it because I love it.
This is all chalked up to me not doing any stretches before or after snowboarding or not doing anything to prepare for my first day out.
For all intents and purposes I'm going to refer to snowboarding for the rest of this post, but be rest assured this can be used for Skiing prep as well.
Whether you're preparing for a marathon, or starting to lift weights, you can't just jump in whole hog and assume to pull it off without any injury if you don't prepare for it first, the same applies to snowboarding.
After your first day up on the mountain you're going to wake up and have sore spots in muscles that you didn't even know you were using! Head to toe, you'll feel it. But if you prepare and do a bit of work before and after, it won't be so bad.
If you're already going to the gym try adding a few of these exercises to your warm up. Doing the below exercises 3 times a week will start to help you gain strength, endurance and flexibility to help increase you performance.
These are awesome to start increasing leg strength, which is paramount to snowboarding.
Start in a deep squat position, shoulder width apart and keep your arms at your side. From this position use that explosive power and jump up to straighten your legs (without locking them), land softly on the balls of your feet. Use your arms to help explode up by pushing down to your sides or reaching to the ceiling.
Weighted Oblique Twist
Doing these weighted oblique twists are a must to get your core ready for all the turing and twisting you're going to be doing up there.
In a seated position, grab your weight (doesn't have to be heavy, 6kg is great, if you can do heavier and want to, go for it, or if you don't want to use a weight, don't worry about it, no judgment here) lean back so you toes and feet are off the floor, and your abs are engaged. Get a good twist motion when you turn, try touching the weight to the side of your bottom on the floor. Keep your abs engaged the entire time.
This exercise not only strengthens your upper body, but is amazing for your core as well.
If you aren't ready to do these on your toes, you can drop down to your knees. Put your hands slightly further than shoulder width apart, keep your neck lined up with your body and look at the ground, don't look ahead. You want your nose to touch the ground, or as close to the ground as your body will allow (ladies, know what I mean...) Inhale as you lower yourself, keep your elbows pointing back behind you. exhale as you rise back up. Don't drop your back. Keep your core tight.
These will be the most important exercise that you can do. Depending on how you ride (regular or goofy) your calfs are going to be getting quite the workout!
Using a weight of your choice (you won't be lifting this over your head, just holding it, so you can go a bit heavier if you'd like) stand on your tip toes, and hold for a few seconds, then go back to the starting position. This works better if you are standing on the side of a box or step so more range is required.
These are a great exercise as they require your full body weight to get anywhere. And mimic some of the same movements that you do while snowboarding.
While standing, take a good step forward (not too short, but not too tall) then lower yourself to the ground making sure your back knee doesn't touch the ground. Repeat until finished your rep count.
Depending on what you like go for a run, jump on your bike, stationary bike, treadmill or cross trainer. You're in high altitudes so breathing becomes a bit more shallow and over exerting yourself is easier. Plus if you have comically short legs like me, walking in through the snow is hard :(
You'll want to work these into your exercise regime about 3 times a week. Do 1 minute reps (do as many functional proper movements you can for 1 minute) and repeat 5 times before moving onto your next exercise with a 1 minute rest in between each group of reps. If you're new to the gym start off slow, and do what you are able. Always chat with your health care provider before hand if you aren't sure the above exercises are for you.
In part 2 of the post I'll go over the stretches you'll be needing to do before and after you've had a days play in the powder.