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Own your snow sport

Sarah Mausolf
Vail CO, Colorado
HL ski cond. 1 KA 09-14-08
ALL |

EAGLE COUNTY, Colorado ” Ski season is creeping up on us. With Arapahoe Basin set to open next month and Vail and Beaver Creek Mountain scheduled to open Nov. 21 and 26 respectively, this is the time to start preparing your body for your favorite snow sport.

Experts say each activity ” skiing, snowboarding and snowshoeing ” works a different set of muscles. We asked local fitness trainers to name the three best exercises to prepare you for each sport.

So follow this sport-specific guide to tone up for the slopes. Your legs will thank you.

Alejandra Billoni, a personal trainer at the Avon Recreation Center and former ski instructor in Argentina, is an expert on toning up for ski season. To get her body ready for downhill adventures, Billoni, 44, swears by rubber half spheres called Bosu balls. Exercising on the balls simulates the unstable terrain skiers face on the slopes, she said. Here are a series of Bosu exercises that will whip any skier’s butt into shape:

The exercise: Upside down Bosu squat

The benefit: Works the core and the legs. Improves balance.

The equipment: Bosu ball.

The movement: Place the Bosu ball upside down on the ground, with the curvy part touching the floor. Do the exercise in front of a chair or bar that you can hold for balance (but try not to hold onto anything). Stand in front of the ball with feet shoulder width apart. Jump up onto the ball with your feet parallel. Balance on the ball. Shifting your weight to the right foot, tip the ball to the right. Next, shift your weight to your left foot and tip the ball to the left.

The challenge: Do three sets of 20.

The exercise: One leg squat on upside down Bosu

The benefit: Works the core and legs. Improves balance.

The equipment: Bosu ball.

The movement: Place the Bosu ball upside down on the ground, with the curvy part touching the floor. Step with your right foot onto the middle of the ball. Balance on the ball, slightly bending your right leg. Balancing on your right leg, raise your left knee up towards your chest. Squat the right leg. Return your right leg to standing position.

The challenge: Do 20 squats on each leg.

The exercise: Lateral Bosu jumps

The benefit: This aerobic workout simulates turning the skis. It works the legs and core.

The equipment: Bosu balls, 10 to 30.

The movement: Place the Bosu balls right-side up on the ground in a line, with each ball about a foot apart. Move every other Bosu ball about a foot to the left. Stand on top of the first Bosu ball in the line, with knees slightly bent. Jump forward and to the left onto the second ball in line. Jump forward and to the right onto the third ball in line. Repeat until the end of the line of Bosu balls.

The challenge: Go through the sequence five times. Work up to as many sets as you can handle.

Jodi Peterson, a personal trainer with Aria Spa and Club in Vail, developed this workout plan for the snowboarding set. A snowboarder for 10 years, Peterson, 30, knows how demanding this sport can be on the body. Not only does it work the lower body (butt, calves, quads, hamstrings and Peroneus muscles in the legs) the stomach and arms feel the burn as well. Tone up with these moves:

The exercise: Box jump

The benefit: Works the butt, quads and hamstrings. Simulates the position snowboarders assume on the slopes.

The equipment: A 1-foot box.

The movement: Stand on the floor with the box in front of you. Start in a squat position with feet shoulder width apart and hands straight out in front of you. Jump up onto the box, raising your arms above your head. Land in a squat on the box, with arms straight out in front of you.

The challenge: Repeat 10 times.

The exercise: Lateral squat walks with a band

The benefit: Works the butt and abductors. Builds hip and knee strength.

The equipment: A red Thera-band (exercise band).

The movement: Place the band around both ankles. Squat with feet facing forward. Remaining in the squat, take a large step to the right with your right foot. Your legs should now be as far apart as you can get them. Keeping your right foot in place, take a half step to the right with your left foot. Repeat.

The challenge: Do 16 to 20 steps in each direction with the red band. Work up to 16 to 20 steps in each direction with a blue band, which offers more resistance than a red band.

The exercise: Trunk twist toss

The benefit: Works the lower back, obliques and rectus abdominis. Good for rotation during turns and jumps.

The equipment: Medicine ball, optional partner.

The movement: Start with a six-to-eight pound medicine ball. Hold the ball out in front of you with arms at shoulder height and hands under the ball. Twist to the right, with your head following your arms to the right. Twist to the left and throw the ball to the left. You can either throw the ball against a wall or to a partner who is 10 to 20 feet away.

The challenge: Do 16 throws on each side. Work up to a heavier medicine ball.

Josiah Middaugh, a personal trainer at Dogma Athletica in Edwards, knows all about snowshoe conditioning. After all, he’s a three-time winner of the national United States Snowshoe Association championship. The 30-year-old trainer said toning up is the best way to avoid injuries like tendonitis in the Achilles tendon. Try these snowshoe-specific exercises to avoid burning in the calves and hip flexors:

The exercise: Reverse lunge with knee drive

The benefit: Works all the major muscles in the legs. For the hip flexors, this movement simulates dragging the weight of the snowshoe.

The equipment: Cable machine with an ankle strap.

The movement: Place your right foot in the ankle strap, with the ankle strap set to five to 10 pounds of resistance. Lunge downward with the strapped-in foot behind you. From this position, make a smooth transition into a knee drive by doing the following: Balancing on the left leg, lift the right leg upward, with a bent knee, until the knee is parallel with your hip. Repeat.

The challenge: Do three sets of 12 on each leg.

The exercise: Windmill toe touch

The benefit: Builds pelvic stabilization so you can balance on unstable surfaces like snow.

The equipment: None

The movement: Balance on your left leg with arms straight out to the sides. Touch your left arm to your toe. Return to the one-leg standing position. Touch your right arm to your toe. Return to the one-leg standing position.

The challenge: Start with 12 touches per leg. Work up to 20 touches per leg.

The exercise: Bosu plank press-up

The benefit: Works the core (abdominals, lower back, butt). This stabilizes your spine so you don’t hyperextend it during downhill sections.

The equipment: Bosu ball

The movement: Get into a pushup position with your hands on the Bosu ball. Transition into plank position by placing both elbows and forearms on the Bosu ball, keeping the body straight as a plank. Return to push-up position.

The challenge: Start with two to three sets of 10. Build up to two to three sets of 20.

High Life Writer Sarah Mausolf can be reached at 970-748-2938 or smausolf@vaildaily.com.


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