One of the perks of winter is that the mountains are open for business! Whether you’re a seasoned pro or a complete beginner, a bit of physical preparation will go a long way to maximising those precious hours spent having fun in the snow. Skiing and snowboarding require strength, balance and flexibility. Stamina is key, but you’ll also need to ensure that your core is strong, your glutes are firing and your legs are ready to take every hit. Here are six killer moves to avoid dead-leg days and sharpen your tricks and turns. Incorporate each one into your regular fitness workout from now until you reach the slopes. We promise you’ll be snow-strong in no time!
• Perform each move for 30 seconds and repeat the circuit three times.
• The slower and more controlled you can do each move, the more challenging and beneficial it will be.
• Engage your core abdominals throughout – this will help your balance, strength and posture.
Straight leg lift
Challenge your strength, flexibility and balance in one move. These leg lifts target the key muscle groups that you’ll need in the mountains.
Begin in a side lunge. Keep your extended leg straight and fixed to the floor as you raise your bent leg out to the side, as high and straight as possible. Pause slightly as you reach your highest point before returning to your starting point. Do 30 seconds on each side. Make sure to keep your torso upright throughout; it can be tempting to lean! Engage your core throughout to help with balance.
The twist element really helps to strengthen those side obliques, which are essential for sharp powder turns and spins in the park.
Begin on your back, with your legs at ninety degrees and your hands behind your head. Lift your head and shoulders slightly off the ground. Slowly begin to straighten one leg and simultaneously twist to the other side. Return to the centre position before doing the same on the other side. Try to keep your bent leg at 90 degrees, your abs contracted and your elbows wide.
Single leg deadlift
This will certainly test your balance and core stability, whilst helping to strengthen your feet and ankles.
From standing, extend your arms out in front of you, while beginning to lift one leg straight up behind you. As you lift the leg reach your arms down towards the floor, until your whole body is parallel to the ground. Slowly return to an upright position and bring the knee of your lifted leg up in front of you. Do 30 seconds on each side. Try to not let your moving foot touch the ground and keep your spine extended and hips straight throughout. Add a weight to each hand (even soup tins will work) to make the move even more challenging.
180-Degree squat jumps
Whether you’re tackling a mogul field or perfecting 180-degree turns in the snow park, these energetic squat jumps will give you the explosive power you need.
Start in a low squat. Look ahead, keep your back straight and make sure your feet are symmetrically placed. Jump up in the air while turning 180 degrees and land in a squat. Try to straighten your legs and point your toes when in the air. After four jumps briefly pause and change the direction of spin – this will save you getting dizzy!
Mountain manoeuvres require thighs of steel. Finish your set with this move for a thigh-burn finale and you’ll soon be powering until the last lift without a second thought.
Start in a wide squat. Lift your right leg towards the left side until your right foot is behind and beyond your left foot, like a curtsy. Stay as low as possible when you curtsy, for maximum burn. Return the right foot to its starting position and repeat on the other side.
Down dog crunch
A strong core is essential for dynamic moves. These crunches will ensure your legs and abdominals learn how to work in tandem, to improve precision and control in the snow.
Begin in a downward dog position. Raise one leg in the air, as high and straight as it can go without twisting your hips. Then bring the knee of your raised leg steadily in towards your nose. Pause here before returning the leg backwards behind you. Use your abdominals to control the whole movement and take the pressure off your back and shoulders. Do 30 seconds on each side.
Words and photos by Aimee Trewin
Photos: Courtesy Roxy