IVGID Tip: Up your game for Lake Tahoe’s ski slopes
November 30, 2016
Every year at just about this time, I hear the same words spoken over and over: "The best exercise for skiing or snowboarding is skiing or snowboarding."
My gut reaction usually is a classic facepalm, with these thoughts swirling through my head: "Really? Wow! We should really let the U.S. Ski Team know they're wasting their time with all that useless dryland training."
The truth is, no matter what your level of ability on snow, thinking you can ski or snowboard your way into shape is a mistake.
If you condition your body properly for your first day, you will be more likely to go longer without tiring; you will ski faster and stronger with better control and technique; and you'll experience less pain at the end of an injury-free day. Honestly, it's worth the time and effort to prepare properly.
When embarking on such a conditioning routine one first thinks of strength, which is an important element, but without stamina and endurance, strength alone won't get you through the first few runs. Good cardio conditioning such as bicycling, running or hiking up hill is what's going to keep you muscles working all day until the very last run.
Cardio training specific to winter mountain sports would benefit from the addition of interval training, since this would mimic the cardio stress one is subject to during skiing and boarding — short bursts of energy output with periods of recovery between.
So training your cardiovascular system with an interval technique makes a big difference. Short high-intensity workouts elevating the heart rate up to at least 95 percent of your maximum with periods of recovery following should prepare you for a relatively stress-free experience on the mountain.
Another aspect of powerful skiing is core strength. Excellent core strength can make your experience seem effortless as you carve your turns down the mountain. Your core can be your powerhouse if you take the time to make it strong.
We can all agree snowboarding and skiing are intensive leg muscle workouts so legs must be another element in your preseason prep workout. Training your muscles eccentrically is key. Lowering your body slowly into a squat is an eccentric move, as are jumping lunges, which forces your muscles to stop the downward motion. Air squats are great, as is lowering your body slowly into a forward lunge. Including these moves into your workout will power your legs and glutes eccentrically instead of concentrically, which translates to a stronger body on the mountain.
After each workout, be sure to stretch. Don't make the mistake of thinking stretching isn't effective. Flexibility is an essential ingredient of safe skiing and stretching provides the flexibility needed.
We've all been there when you catch an edge and are in a hazardous position for a moment and need your body to go to the limit — that's when your flexibility will get you through it.
If you 're not sure what exercises are best for a ski conditioning workout, the Incline Village Recreation Center is currently providing Winter Sports Conditioning classes every Monday, Wednesday and Sunday from 9-10 a.m. through mid December.
So for the naysayers, I say, give it a go. Try it. You might be in for a pleasant surprise your first day on the snow. Here's hoping for the best season ever!
Linda DeMaria is a Personal Trainer at the Incline Village Recreation Center.