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In & Out

Written by Eleanor Goldberg
Posted Oct 28, 2008

Start conditioning now to get the most of your winter sports. Don’t let working out indoors get you down. These conditioning workouts will actually get you adequately prepped for that first snowfall when the games can begin outside.

Though skiing requires you to exert every muscle group you possess, you need to focus on some specifics in between each downhill outing. To sustain an entire day of diamonds, primping your endurance should be your prime concern. “You want to be able to get up and do it again and continue to give it a go,” says Kim Blake, a Nike ski-conditioning instructor. “If you stop, it should only be if you’re embarrassed, not because you’re too tired to continue.” To maintain such demanding momentum, spice-up your cardio. Instead of clocking in standard humdrum treadmill time, follow up long laps on the indoor track with quick half-lap sprints. The speeding up and slowing down will give your stamina major staying power. Live in a walk-up? Be thankful. Run up and down the steps, alternating between skipping and stomping on one at a time. This workout will count for cardio and for critical quad work that’ll serve you well for a day full of crouching. Building up your strength in your lower back is also a priority for this particular sport. Planks and pushups will certainly do the trick. “These moves force these crucial muscles to hold strong for an extended period of time,” Blake says.

Though snowboarding is just as demanding as skiing when it comes to the endurance factor, you’ll also have to focus on flexibility and balance in a serious way. “A lot of people tend to leave flexibility—what allows you to do what you want most efficiently—out,” Blake says. Consider doing deep squats with a medicine ball or Kettleboy. Walking lunges will also produce similar results—just always make sure your knees are constantly in alignment. As your nagging aches from last trip will remind you, developing non-quivering balance is what will keep your behind up and your body sturdy. Working out the essentials—legs, core and upper body—is what will keep your feet in place. To get there incorporate the Bosu Ball and balance board into your routine. “When using the balance board, turn in all different directions and work from the toe to the heel,” Blake suggests. To get your heart rate up, while also working on your stability, get on the bike and peddle with a one-leg balance. “This forces your core to work a little harder,” Blake explains. What’s most important according to Blake though, might seem the most obvious, being able to breathe. “Your lungs can’t absorb as much air, so you need to maximize the oxygen levels,” she says. And that’s where the endurance piece comes into play. But keep in mind as you sweat it out, that variation truly is key. Because according to Ethan Lemieux, an EMS climbing instructor, “You’re not going to build muscles until you do something different and confuse them a little bit.”

When it comes to ice climbing, you might think that simulating the experience indoors is impossible. Though that might be kind of true, there is plenty of work to be done in the gym to ensure your next attempt is success. Lemieux stresses focusing on enhancing leg strength. “You’re taking steps up like you would on a ladder, so getting on the stair master and elevating the incline on the treadmill is helpful.” You can also stand on a 2x4 and press your toes up and down to get a good calf workout. Lunges and squats are critical too. “The key is not get huge, but to get strong and have a good amount endurance,” Lemieux says. Though your legs are most consequential, your arms are going to need some attention too. “Ice climbing is a lot like swinging a framing hammer over your head all the time,” Lemieux explains. When you get to the pull-up bar, point your elbows downward, as you will when you’re on the mountain. “Some people hang their ice tools from a beam, or rope and do pull-ups that way,” Lemieux suggests. Your flexibility will surely improve with sit-ups and Pilates. But for a little bit of diversity, consider twisting a medicine ball over your head or using bungee strips which you’ll manipulate into a throwing position. Undoubtedly, indoor climbing will keep you in shape and help you perfect your form, just make sure not to overdo it. “Climbing a couple of times indoors in between will suffice to keep the muscles moving, but don’t try and climb the hardest route, you just need a little bit of challenge,” Lemieux says.

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