A LAZY PERSON’S GUIDE TO WINTERSPORT FITNESS
Last snow season came to an abrupt halt when the COVID-19 virus kicked in. Especially for those in the northern hemisphere a new winter never seemed far away, so I won’t judge you if your physical shape isn’t what it used to be. Meanwhile, next winter is approaching fast and we’re all looking forward to our next trip to the mountains. Time to get that winter fitness on the right level. Even if you don’t like training. These five quick exercises are done before you know it.
Why are exercises ahead of your skiing trip wise to do? If I’d tell you to run a marathon without any preparation, would you do it? I guess not. Still, a lot of people go for it when it comes to winter sports. They just grab their gear and off they go for eight hours a day. While it’s probably easier than running a marathon (trust me, I did both), winter sports are also a heavy burden on our body, because it deviates a lot from our everyday movements.
Especially our thighs, abs, and back muscles are tested more heavily during our skiing and snowboarding trips. The first because of the special stance in our ski and snowboard boots. Our heel is slightly lifted which brings a whole different pressure on our thighs. The more you bend your knees, to lower your center of gravity to keep your balance at higher speeds, the greater the attack on the thighs. So to be able to keep cruising the whole day and to not wake up with some muscle strain the next days, train those thighs.
Next up, we need our core stability to keep our balance and to be able to make those nice turns on the slopes or in the deep powder. The stronger your core stability the easier it is to stay on your feet and to correct the mistakes that otherwise might have led to a tumble in the snow. So let’s get those muscles ready for winter in just 15 minutes a week!
1. Wall sit
Let’s work those leg muscles. How? Easy, just by sitting against a wall. This is the time it’s good to be with your back against the wall. So, back against the wall, feet shoulder-width apart and a little bit out of the wall. Lower your hips until your knees are bent 90 degrees, so your thighs are parallel to the floor. Hold this position for 20 – 30 seconds, rest for 30 seconds, and do it one more time. If this feels really easy you can increase the duration per repetition or hold something heavy in your arms whilst in position to increase the difficulty.
2. Single leg knee bend/squat
This exercise increases your balance/stability and strengthens your thighs. Balance on one leg with your knee slightly bend (just a couple degrees), hips forward, and a straight spine. Now keep your balance and slowly bend your knee forwards a little more and lower your hips before getting back in the original position. Do this 10 – 15 times, before switching to the other leg. Try to stay on one leg the whole time. I like to do this exercise when I’m in the shower. Watch out not to slip!
Next, we get that core working. Probably the most well known and most executed exercise for core stability is the plank. Lay down on your elbows and toes with your shoulders, hips, and knees in a straight line and hold this position for 30 seconds. It’s more important to keep the right position than to hold your plank longer. Short and good is more effective than longer with a bad posture.
4. Side plank balancing
Now it’s time to step it up a notch. Lie on your side, legs straight, and use your elbow to lift your hips from the ground. Your body is now supported by the side of one foot and one elbow and forearm. Try to keep your legs and upper body straight for 20 – 30 seconds. Now switch sides and do the same.
If it’s a little too hard to keep your balance. Start with your legs slightly bend and keep your knee’s on the floor for extra support.
If the exercise is easy for you, try lifting your leg or arm that’s on top. Or even both if you’re that strong and stable.
5. Mountain climbers
Last but not least an exercise with an appealing name for those who like to be in the mountains. The mountain climbers. Start in a push-up position. Hands shoulder-width apart and a straight line from shoulders to toe. Now lift your left foot and bring your knee up to your chest and back without touching the floor. Do the same with your right foot and keep alternating for 20 – 30 seconds. Be sure to keep your hips in the same place. To make it harder for yourself you can speed up the movement or do it a little longer.
Well done if you did all the exercises! You just set the first step towards winter fitness. To get in the right shape for the winter do these exercises two or three times a week. If you get more comfortable with it you can slightly increase the amount of time or number of repetitions per exercise.