The Right Exercises to Prep Your Body for Winter Sports
“Riding challenges your entire body and requires a lot of coordination,” says British national snowboard team coach Lesley McKenna. “A strong core is key for balance and control.” Doing your usual strength moves on a stability ball will fire up your midsection muscles, but to really hone in on your abs and lower back, add a wobble plank to your routine three to five times a week.
Try it: Get in push-up position with your feet on a balance disc or pillow, wrists aligned under shoulders. Hold for 20 to 60 seconds, then rest for a few seconds. Do 3 reps. (Strengthen your midsection with this At-Home TRX Core Workout.)
Even if you exercise regularly, your legs may not be ready for this activity. “Your feet sink into the snow with every step, and it’s primarily your quads that pull them out,” says Sara Tarkington Schuler, 2012 U.S. snowshoe national champion. The StairMaster challenges muscles in a way that mimics snowshoeing.
Try it: Set it to level 1 and warm up for 5 minutes. Increase the resistance every 2 minutes for 10 minutes, then cool down for 5 minutes at level 1. (If climbing stairs is not your thing, here's A Yoga Workout That's Better Than the StairMaster.)
Falls are to blame for up to 85 percent of all ski-related injuries, with knee-ligament sprains and tears topping the list. “Improving your balance and strengthening the quads—which support your knees—can help decrease your risk of both,” says Scott Levin, M.D., an orthopedic surgeon in Carmel, NY. To shore up your stability while you sculpt, perform single-leg squats twice a week.
Try it: Stand with feet hip-width apart and place hands on hips. Bend right knee, shifting weight to left leg, and squat. Rise up to starting position. Do 8 to 12 reps, then switch sides to complete set. Do 4 sets. (Once your done, keeping toning your butt and thighs with this Lower-Body HIIT Workout.)
Although the skating motion of cross-country skiing challenges your thighs and butt, using the poles works your arms, back, chest, and shoulders. To strengthen your upper body, Kikkan Randall, a member of the U.S. cross-country ski team and the 2012 World Cup sprint champion, recommends the cable pushdown.
Try it: Set the arms of a FreeMotion machine to the highest position (at home, use a resistance tube) and stand facing it with feet shoulder-width apart. Grab both handles at head height, with elbows bent and palms facing each other. Pull your arms down to your sides, driving elbows back; return to starting position. Do 3 sets of 10 to 12 reps. (Then, try this Strong and Sleek Upper Body Pilates Workout.)