Winter sports athletes have plenty of snow to maneuver as we head into an Olympic year. Many folks have trained for snow season. Sad but true: a lot of these people won’t get the results they are working for.
That’s because training for most winter sports puts a load on the body, which must be able to control centrifugal force and the force of gravity while maintaining balance on varying amounts of vertical. At the same time, instead of having the traction of athletic shoes, you are essentially controlling a slide with something attached to your feet.
This type of activity requires extra strength and power from important muscles in the core, glutes, quadriceps, hamstrings, hip flexors and more. But after the slower pace of summer, most people must first get in shape to make power moves.
The reality is, you have to train to be able to efficiently train for winter sports.
You can’t start using power moves to train for something if you don’t already have that muscular power, or if you haven’t been making powerful moves frequently over the past few months. Walking up to the basket and taking shots doesn’t count.
“Power” is the combination of strength and speed. It can be obtained in a short training period. As many of you know, power training is called “plyometrics.” It can be as simple as jumping rope, or as elite as an athlete doing a clean and jerk with more poundage than the lifter’s body weight.
Even snowmobilers need plyometric power. When a snowmobile starts to slide, it can often be controlled with precise body English and a strong core.
That old maxim, “We are only as strong as our weakest link,” is true of winter sports that require power. If the glutes aren’t quick to contract, or can’t contract powerfully, the force generated to the legs is greatly decreased.
That means the leg muscles won’t have the capacity to use their full strength; you’ll never be able to go all out on a run or in a competition. You may also have frequent minor injuries. The same is true of the arms and shoulders if the core that propels them isn’t strong.
Eliminate all those issues by first specifically training the muscles needed for plyometric workouts. If you don’t have a coach or trainer, ask around. There are places everywhere that offer this kind of athletic training. If you can’t find a good trainer, there’s a plethora of information online.
Even if you don’t want to pay for a trainer, it’s still good to buy at least one or perhaps two sessions where the trainer thoroughly checks out your physical condition, tells you which muscles are weak, suggests exercises that would strengthen the areas that need strengthening, and helps you design a workout program.
A plyometric workout requires discipline. Strength and speed may be built quickly, but it also fades away quickly. An erratic schedule or a few missed workouts will undo weeks of hard work. Stay focused.
Once your body adapts to the workouts and becomes more powerful – trust me, you’ll know when it does – you can then enjoy the winter sports season.
When you get out on snow, you’ll have moves that are so powerful, it will scare you.
Wina Sturgeon is the editor of the online magazine Adventure Sports Weekly. For the latest in adventure sports and physical conditioning, visit adventuresportsweekly.com