In the world of snowboarding, even experts can feel like beginners when it comes to training: “Snowboarding is such a new sport that fitness training for it has just developed in these last few years—even the highest level competitors don’t always commit to year-round training,” says Kelly Clark, a three time Olympic medalist, a record-breaker, and a trailblazer for the sport. “We know how to train football and basketball players, but what muscle groups to target and what fitness to focus on is still being developed for snowboarding.”
And as that information has emerged, Clark’s invested in her training—and it’s the most beneficial, fruitful thing she’s ever done: “You’d be amazed at how far good training can get you.” So where should you start? We asked industry pros to find out.
1. Challenge your balance
“When your legs are locked out and you hit a bump snowboarding, you don’t have any way to save it,” says Clark. The result: a wipeout. Bent knees and an upright chest will help you build a balanced position. Do that by standing on Bosu ball with the round side down. Once you master balance simply standing, have friend lightly hit the top of the ball. You’ll have to catch your balance, says Clark.
2. Perfect your posture
“Good technique in the gym usually involves having your chest upright and good tracking with your hips, knees, and ankles. All of those things are things you want to do on the snowboard as well,” says Clark. So good training technique will translate to good on-hill time. “Even at my level, when I get tired and I’m hinging over, I think, ‘Why don’t you try standing up?’?
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3. Work your non-dominant leg
“Snowboarders either stand regular or goofy, so I always find that the back leg will dominate—that’s what you drive with,” says Clark. “When I get into gym, I really have to watch myself so when I go into a squat, I’m not favoring one leg more than the other. I have to make sure I don’t have imbalances, so I spend a lot of time working on my front leg.”
4. Run the stairs
It’s no surprise that a day on the slopes requires a strong cardiovascular base. And while that can include interval work and lower-intensity, long duration activity, Clark says that running stairs is an easy way to build up anywhere you are. “You can skip stairs and do core work or other bodyweight exercise in between floors.”
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5. The Workout:
Incorporate these five moves for better boarding from Scott Weiss, C.S.C.S., and an exercise physiologist who has worked with Olympic snowboarders.
V-ups: “This is vital for the core and is very sports-specific for snowboarding,” says Weiss. Start by lying on your back with your knees straight and arms extended overhead. Bring your lower and upper body off the floor by sitting up and touching your toes. Your butt stays on the ground and you come up into the V position.
Balance or voodoo board wood chops and squats: You’ve probably seen those balance boards in the gym—they look like a surf or snowboard with a wooden can underneath. Once you master the basic, balance stance on the board without the board moving uncontrollably, try to perform both air squats as well as multi-angle chops. “These are amazing for balance and proprioception,” says Weiss.
180-degree tuck jumps: “Tuck jumps are a plyometric exercise that involves jumping straight up in the air as you tuck your knees into your chest,” says Weiss. “But the difference here is that you not only tuck and jump but you also spin or rotate 180 degrees and land in the snowboarding position.”
Super slow step-ups: “These are a tricky exercise, but ideal to develop the muscular strength and endurance needed for snowboarding as snowboarders need sustained control and power,” says Weiss. Stand in front of a small plyo box or step with one foot up. Your hip and knee on the step should be about 90 degrees, respectively. Without pushing off the foot on the floor, try to lean forward and up so you stand on the raised leg, then lower yourself down slowly.
Curtsy lunges on two mats: “These are done on an unstable rubber mat in order to provide and unstable surface as in snowboarding,” says Weiss. “The hero or curtsy lunge moves the one leg back, across and behind you instead of moving forward in a regular lunge.”