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Getting in Shape for Snowboarding

by Jean Sapula, Certified Athletic Trainer AND
Level II Certified Snowboard Instructor. 

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Q:   "I've been running and hiking all summer; what else should I be
doing to get in shape for snowboarding season?"

A: Definitely stay with the aerobic conditioning, like running and hiking, but you can mix it up with other activities, such as, elliptical trainers, stair climbers and mt. biking, just to name a few. While aerobic exercise does help your leg strength to a degree, it is more important for keeping you from fatiguing on the slopes, giving you endurance. I'd suggest a good upper and lower body workout in the gym as well. The following exercises listed below help to comprise a good program for snowboarding fitness:


1. Squats - start with just your body weight for this exercise, progress to using dumbbells, then the weight bar for added resistance. Proper form is imperative for squats. Your squat posture should look like you are sitting back into a chair, with your weight back on your heels. You should always be able to see your toes, taking care not to bend your knees too far forward.

2. Lunges - are a great lower body exercise done by taking a step forward with your left foot, approximately 2 to 3 feet forward of your right slowly "kneel" by placing your right knee down towards the floor, keeping your body upright. Let your right knee touch the ground.

Start with a stationary lunge, feet split, forward and back. Progress to forward, side, diagonal and back lunges, to cover all planes of movement. Then move onto walking lunges for a greater challenge.


3. Push ups - if the full push up position is too hard at first start on your hands and knees (quadruped). This exercise will help strengthen your arms, but can be used for abdominal strength as well. Perform 10 push ups, then remain in the "up" position, not allowing your stomach/back to drop for 30 seconds, then perform 10 more push ups. Advance so you can hold your body rigid in the "down" position as well.

4. Triceps exercise - these are also called "dips" and will help you get up off the snow. Sit on a bench. Place your hands on the edge of the bench, left hand on your left side and right on right, feet on the floor. Now drop your butt off the bench toward the floor and allow your arms to bend, elbows bend to 90 degrees...with your legs straight out in front of you...then straighten the arms and lift the butt back up. Feet are on the floor, out in front of you, with most of your weight on your heels and hands on the bench. Repeat.

This is the same motion as getting up off the ground, onto your heel side of your board. Start with a low bench, and progress. Once you get strong enough, you may do the exercise with your feet elevated onto a second bench across from you.

5. Balance is very important, and contrary to popular can practice to improve your balance. Try this easy a tennis ball under the ball of each foot. Now try to balance only on the tennis balls, not allowing any other part of your foot to touch the ground. Hold onto something solid until you are balanced. Progress onto performing small squats on the tennis balls while remaining balanced. Move onto equipment, such as a Vew-Do board to add a more dynamic component to your balance training. (

Both strength and aerobic training should be performed at least 3 times per week. A good idea is to alternate days for your workouts, bike one day, weight train the next. Aerobic workouts should be performed for at least 25 to 45 minutes at a time, to get the most out of them. Weight training usually starts with 2-3 sets of 10 repetitions, and progresses to 4-5 sets of 10 reps. You can also play around with your reps, for instance and perform lunges for 2 sets of 10 reps, increasing to 2 sets of 15, then 2 sets of 20, then add 1-2 pound dumbbells in each hand, and drop back down to 2 sets of 10 again.

Flexibility is very important to relieve training soreness and decrease your chance of injury. Always perform a proper warm up and cool down, incorporating stretches into that routine. Work with a trained professional, who can help you use proper form, to avoid injury. Always consult with your doctor if you are just starting a fitness program.

Jean Sapula is an active Level II Snowboard Instructor at Ski Sundown in CT and has the following qualifications: M.Ed. (Masters in Education), ATC (Athletic Trainer Certified), CSCS (Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist), Certified Athletic Trainer, and Strength and Conditioning Specialist for HealthSouth Physical Therapy and Sports Medicine.

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