Screaming down the slopes all day on a shiny plank will place unique demands on your body! To cope with these demands, you’ll need to focus on the following three key areas for your training…
Obviously, you will need to have strong legs for snowboarding, but that’s not the only area of your body that you should focus on. Snowboarding requires specific strength training. The primary areas to focus on are:
Legs – Quadriceps. The quadriceps muscles at the fronts of the thighs are extremely important, because maintaining the correct position for snowboarding – coupled with the constant changes you’ll need to make to control your board – means that the quadriceps will be loaded the whole time you’re in action.
Legs – Hip flexors. While snowboarding, your hip flexors will be continually working as your body flexes up and down to maintain your balance.
Core muscles. Your core muscles will keep you upright and help you to balance. Without good core strength, you will have no control on the slopes.
Total body. In addition to the two key areas of legs and core, don’t neglect all-round body training in your strength program. Snowboarding involves using a huge variety of smaller muscles at one time or another, and if you have all-round fitness, you’ll get more out of your time on the slopes.
2. Cardiovascular fitness
You won’t be running or moving forward under your own steam for most of the time when you’re snowboarding, but that doesn’t mean you won’t need good cardiovascular (CV) fitness. Snowboarding requires complete body control in order to stay upright – and this will place a continual demand on your CV system as you employ every muscle group in order to remain balanced.
3. Flexibility exercise
If you’re flexible, you will have good range of movement, which is extremely important in order to execute all the necessary twists, turns and occasional tricks when you’re on the slopes. To snowboard efficiently, you will need total body flexibility – and you will need to pay particular attention to the calves and Achilles tendons (sited at the backs of the lower legs). Flexibility in this area is vital, because your snowboarding boots and bindings will force you to ‘hinge’ at the heel, thereby stretching both the calf and the Achilles in each leg. If you’re tight in either of these areas, your risk of injury will be much higher.
How to avoid snowboarding injuries
The last thing that you want to do on a snowboarding holiday is get an injury – so the best thing to do is prepare your body correctly. For injury prevention, your main focus should be on flexibility training. As we have mentioned, the calves and Achilles tendons are important to your flexibility – but you should also ensure you are loose and supple in the following two areas:
- Quadriceps (front of the thigh). As well as being flexible, the quadriceps muscles need to be strong – as mentioned earlier.
- Hamstrings (back of the thigh).
However good your preparation is, though, one thing is certain when you go snowboarding: at some point or other, you’re going to fall over! So, to avoid common injuries such as broken collarbones, work on your all-round mobility and proprioception (the sense of where your body is at any time) as much as possible. This way you will be in control of your body, and so when you do fall over you will be able to position yourself quickly and easily, rather than be awkward and stiff in your movements. This will make you less liable to suffer an injury.
Additionally, try to have a couple of sports massages as part of your ‘après-snowboarding’ routine, as these will flush out the waste products in your muscles and help keep them in tip-top condition throughout your holiday.
Snowboarding training – how much and how often to do it
Start your snowboarding training program as soon as possible before you go on vacation, because the earlier you begin, the better conditioned you’ll be by the time you hit the slopes. Build slowly and carefully – particularly if you aren’t a regular exerciser – and ensure that you cover the three primary disciplines of strength, flexibility and CV fitness outlined earlier. Factor in plenty of recovery days – especially when you begin your training, when you’ll need to allow your body to gradually adapt to the new demands that you are placing upon it.
To keep your program balanced, build up to the following training levels:
- Strength training – twice weekly
- CV training – two to three times per week
- Flexibility training – after every strength or CV training session
Snowboarding training – specific exercise training sessions
Now that you know what areas to focus on, as well as how much exercise to do and how often, the next stage is to check out our specific strength, CV and flexibility sessions and try to incorporate them into your training:
1. Strength exercises
Snowboarding requires a blend of strength and endurance, so look to build up to completing two sets of 8 to 15 repetitions of the following leg exercises, separated by a 60 second recovery period. For the core exercises, build up until you can hold the position for 60 seconds.
Legs. Squatting-type exercises are ideal for your snowboarding preparation because they very closely replicate the actions and movements that you will employ on the slopes. Start by simply squatting without using additional weights and, as your legs become stronger, add more weight by using a squat rack barbell placed on the shoulders, or if you really are just starting out, then why not try the smith machine for extra support until you are comfortable with doing standing free weights.
Core. There are numerous core exercises that you can do to strengthen this important area, but one of the most effective is an exercise called ‘the plank’, because it burns fat simply by holding the full extended position. To do this exercise, lie face down on the floor with your arms bent at 90 degrees and tucked close to your sides, with your elbows directly under your shoulders and your hands pointing ahead. Push up until you are solely supporting your body on your forearms and toes, and are holding a rigid, flat, ‘plank-type’ position.
2. Cardiovascular exercises
To strengthen your CV system, any rhythmical exercise that gets you breathless and you can maintain for at least 20 minutes is good. Walking, jogging, running, rowing, swimming, and cycling are all suitable examples, with the most effective being the ones where you are supporting your own bodyweight. Walking or running can therefore be more effective than swimming, and will also provide the additional benefit of strengthening your legs, which, as we have seen, will be important when you are on the slopes.
3. Flexibility exercises
After each strength or CV exercise session that you complete, look to stretch the major muscle groups that you’ve used. For example, if you’ve been jogging, do some leg stretches and target the calves, Achilles tendons, quadriceps, hamstrings and adductors.
As well as specific conditioning sessions, there is also another strategy that you can employ to boost your snowboarding fitness, and that’s to replicate the demands of the slopes before you depart. Skateboarding and surfing, if there are suitable facilities nearby for you to use, will closely mimic the demands of the slopes, and will additionally help with your general balance, control and overall body awareness. The great advantage of this type of training is that it’s fantastic fun and it supports your other specific training.
Getting board-fit the easy way!
Snowboarding is all about fun, and you certainly don’t have to be an elite athlete to enjoy the sport. However, the more training you can do before you go, the more you’ll get out of your holiday. So, if you want to get in shape the easy way, start your snowboarding-specific workouts as soon as you book your holiday, rather than trying to cram in a couple of months’ training into a fortnight! This way you will allow yourself to build up gradually and sensibly, without risking replicating the post-snowboarding muscle soreness that you’re actually trying to avoid by training beforehand, dedicating one to two hours of your day 3 times per week to go to the gym is not a huge ask, plus you can do whatever you want for the rest of the day once it’s out the way!