Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Winterize Your Muscles for Winter Sports

Let It Snow, But Don't Fall

As ski and snowboard season is fast approaching, it's time to do pre-season conditioning. Before the snow falls, focus on training your muscles for winter sports. People could have enjoyed their ski vacation more if they could spend a little time preparing themselves in advance. Don't come home with broken leg(s) from your ski trip. Everyone I saw on crutches every year from ski trip all said that before: "It can't be me. I've been skiing or snowboarding since I was 12. It's not gonna happen to me." Guess what happened next.

Total Cost of Injuries --- More Than What You Think

Leg or knee injuries could put you out of commission for at least six months on the average, not uncommon for 12 months or longer. If you have a surgery, you'll expect many visits to the doctor and physical therapist. In addition to medical cost and time, you cannot function normally in your daily activities. The chances are that you become less mobile in today's already sedentary lifestyle. It's very likely that you put on some weight (or fat) due to being less physically active and potential stress-eating. The problems are snowballing and going spiral downward.

Your health and fitness level would be re-set for at least a year or two backwards. That is, all the hard work you've put in for the past year or two is going down to the drain. The new injuries prevent you from coming back to work out as intense as before. The rebuilding process is a long and long time to come. So the accumulated cost of leg injuries is at least two-year worth of your fitness along with the medical cost, extra time for therapy and inconvenience in your daily life.

Think about Winterizing Your Muscles

Wouldn't it be reasonable to spend a little time (and small training fees) to prepare your body for your next ski trip? When you think about winterizing your car or house for the winter season, it's about time to winterize your muscles as well. It's not just for skiing or snowboarding. You can also strengthen your back muscles so that you don't pull your back when shoveling snow. Back pain is number one injury --- the most common and frequent one that bothers millions of Americans every year. Although it's cold outside, you should continue to exercise in winter. There are a few tips and cautions to have a safe workout and stay fit in winter season.

Let's face it. We don't normally do similar activities that closely mimic what you do on the slopes to handle different terrains like steeps, glades, moguls, terran parks or the backcountry. We're not used to staying in low crouch position, squating (sometimes on one leg), turning left and right, jumping up and hopping down for an extended period of time under icy, cold, elevated altitude conditions. Remember what happened in the morning of the second day on your first ski trip. You cannot seem to get out of your bed without letting out a long Ahhh! Your whole body aches and pains all over the places. Your legs may be limping just like getting off of a horse. It is all because you're not used to it, not like the professionals who do it everyday and are used to that kind of physical demands.

Wouldn't you think about at least conditioning your body better in advance? You're able to ski more aggressively and handle more extreme terrains. Not only do you have the fitness level to enjoy the snow longer, but you can enjoy three or more consecutive days of skiing in a row and live to brag about it!

Strengthen Your Winter Muscles

The main functional fitness characteristics for conditioning your winter muscles are cardio endurance, static-dynamic strength, power, balance and flexibility. A training program that incorporates those conditioning characteristics necessary to enjoy your ski season includes the following elements:

  • Muscular strength with emphasis on the hips, lower back and legs
  • Muscular power, speed and endurance for the whole body specific to downhill skiing
  • Cardiovascular aerobic and anaerobic endurance
  • Balance, agility and coordination
  • Core strength, stabilization and endurance

Ski Specific Conditioning Program

A ski-specific training program includes three parts: functional (sport-specific) strength circuit, interval cardio workout, and strength endurance workout. If you have followed my cross training approach with strength and cardio circuit training before, you should be very familiar with the circuit training. You are in better condition than most weekend warriors or seasonal athletes.

I have designed a sample pre-season winterization program that you can do at least four to six weeks before your first ski trip. This ski-specific conditioning workout routine combines all the elements described above in a circuit training fashion. It can be done in your comfortable living room, basement or in your backyard. Please contact me (973) 303-2424 or email to schedule your Winter Muscle Bootcamp.

Copyright 2006 by C. Carey Yang.
All rights reserved.

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