Picture it: you’re flying effortlessly down a mountain trail with nothing separating you from the packed snow but a few pieces of waxed wood.
Could that possibly constitute a workout? And, for that matter, would it be a good one?
For skiing and snowboarding beginners and aficionados alike, the answer is a resounding yes.
For starters, you probably won’t actually be flying effortlessly.
“Especially when you’re new and learning, there’s a lot of pushing up off the ground,” said Michael Bain, president and co-founder of outdoor recreational activity group Hero USA. “So people will be like ‘oh, my wrists, my forearms, my stomach’ — some people don’t understand that it’s a big core workout, just from pushing up off the ground, bending over, putting your bindings on … and walking in big, giant boots.”
But even for experienced skiers and snowboarders, the sports are a workout.
“You will work out every muscle in your body,” said Domenic Buccilla, the nonprofit’s vice president and co-founder. “You’ll work out muscles you didn’t even know you had.”
“Snowboarding is going to be a little more challenging than skiing, only because it requires a lot more balance, so you’re using a lot more of your core muscles, your lower back, legs, upper body, kind of all of your muscle groups,” Buccilla continued.
Bain chimed in, noting how heavily both sports work your legs.
“I would say 70 percent is your legs, but there are definitely some other muscles that are involved,” he said. “You do engage your core, but it’s your legs that are burning.”
To better conceptualize exactly what these sports do for your body and overall fitness, Buccilla pointed to the highly intense physical fitness regimen of CrossFit.
“More so than just going to a gym and working out your muscles, or going out jogging or cycling, [skiing and snowboarding] kind of gear more toward that whole CrossFit sector of fitness, where it’s nontraditional exercise that’s targeting muscle groups that traditional exercise doesn’t really get,” Buccilla said.
As beginners adjust to this new type of workout, there’s something else Bain suggested they keep in mind to get the most out of their workout: “Patience is key.”
“A lot of people get frustrated because they’re used to being good at things, and then they go and try to snowboard for the first time and they’re not good at it, and a lot of people get mad,” he said. “So we always tell people, ‘You’re not gonna get it today, you’re gonna try real hard, you’ll get a few things, but you won’t be able to just bomb down the mountain.’”
But that patience pays off, Bain said. As someone who loves winter sports, the years he’s spent in the snow have allowed him to get the best kind of workout – a fun one.
“I think all of us would agree that there’s no better workout than a workout you get when you don’t know it, and you’re having fun,” he said. “And that’s what snowboarding is, for me at least. You just get out there, and we’ve been doing this so long we don’t really realize we’re getting a workout.”
Buccilla built upon Bain’s sentiments, noting that when skiers or snowboarders get more comfortable in their sport of choice, the workout also transcends the physical aspect.
“It’s not only a physical workout, but it’s also kind of a mental workout,” Buccilla said. “It’s very much a stress reliever, where a lot of cyclists and a lot of runners say they like that long distance where they have time to focus and think and recharge their batteries. For me, snowboarding is kind of the same thing – being able to be outside and be in nature surrounded by all that, it’s a mental release.
Winter sports are a great way to keep the body active, however they’re a major contributor to sport related injuries. It’s important to train your body with specific exercises to strengthen the body and prevent injury. To avoid injuries and increase your athletic abilities, consider adding these simple exercises to your routine. Do 2-3 sets of 12-15 reps for all.
Curtsy Lunge with Medicine Ball Overhead
Standing, step one leg back, crossing it behind your front foot – like a curtsy. Bend both knees until they’re each bent to 90 degrees. Make sure to keep your chest and torso upright, in order to keep the hips and core active. Step back to standing then repeat on other side.
Push Ups to Side Plank
Do a Push Up then rotate your weight onto both your right hand and right foot, so that your body comes into a High Side Plank. Then rotate back to your high plank to do another pushup.
Romanian Deadlift with Bent Over Row
Holding dumbbells, stand with feet hip width apart and toes facing forward. Bend forward from the hips, keeping your core active and back flat, allowing the arms to fall forward. As you continue, allow your knees to bend into a half squat. Hold this and then bend at the elbows to pull the dumbbells up to your sternum. Lower the arms back to straight and stand up.
Wide Leg Forward Bend Stretch
Stand with your feet about 4 feet apart and toes turned in slightly. Pull your arms behind your back, interlacing your fingers, creating a cup with your palms. Bend forward from the hips, keeping the core active and the back flat, trying to point or reach the crown of your head towards the ground. Then slowly raise your arms off of your back, trying to face your palms towards your back, stretching your chest and shoulders. Hold for 45-60 seconds. Slowly rise up.
-Karie Smith, ACC Trainer