08 July, 2011
The Best Exercises for Snowboarding
While the emphasis of exercises for snowboarding should be on building strength and power, pay attention to improving your flexibility, balance, coordination and core stability. For example, if your core stabilizing muscles are weak while navigating unpredictable terrain, you’re vulnerable to various injuries, ranging from slipped disks in your spine and neck to twisted knees or ankles. The best exercises address the different physical requirements for snowboarding.
Strength and Balance
While front squats and different types of lunges, such as forward and lateral, will strengthen your glutes, hips, lower back and legs, the best exercises are variations of squats that can also improve your balance. For example, work on your toe-edge and heel-edge balance by performing single-leg squats on a foam roll. Begin by standing with your right leg on a piece of foam roll. Lift and extend your left leg directly behind you, keeping your left knee soft. Extending both arms in front of you, exhale and slowly bend your right knee until your right thigh is parallel to the floor. Inhale and return to starting position. Perform two to three sets of 15 reps on each side.
Exercises that train most of your muscles and improve motor coordination offer a big bang for your training buck. An example of a big-bang exercise for snowboarders is the supine lateral ball roll. Begin by lying on an exercise ball with your shoulders and head positioned on the center of the ball. Bend your knees at a 90-degree angle and push your hips up so your thighs, hips, back and head form a straight line. To provide feedback on your upper-body position, hold a pole just above your chest and parallel to the floor. Start the exercise by moving your right leg further out to your right side and then slowly follow with your left leg also moving to the right. Roll your upper body to the right so your right shoulder aligns with your right knee. Aim to reach the peak position in three seconds and then hold this position for another three seconds. Return to starting position in three seconds and then repeat on your left side. Keep your shoulders and hips level throughout the exercise.
Rotation and Extension
Exercises that strengthen trunk rotation and your core abdominals can help to improve a wide range of snowboarding maneuvers, as well as prevent injury. One of the best exercises is the reverse wood chop with a lateral lunge, which trains your muscles to rotate and extend at the same time. Begin by standing with your right side next to a cable machine. Grip the handle of the low pulley with both hands in neutral position. Lunge sideways to your left and simultaneously pull the handle up and across your body, keeping your arms fully extended. At the end of the range of motion, the handle should align with your left knee and shoulder. Slowly return to starting position. Perform 10 reps and then repeat the exercise on the other side.
Plyometric jumping drills, which take advantage of your muscles’ stretch-shortening cycle, will best prepare you for aerial leaps on the slopes. To work on your balance while jumping, perform a drill on an inflatable balance trainer in which you begin by assuming an athletic stance on the trainer. Your feet should be about hip-width apart with knees slightly bent and abs contracted. Explode up to the ceiling, swinging your arms overhead to gain momentum. As you jump, rotate your body 180 degrees counterclockwise. Land with your knees bent and then immediately launch into another jump. Rotate 180 degrees counterclockwise again to return to starting position. Perform five reps moving in a counterclockwise direction and then do another five reps in a clockwise direction.
- Steve Mason/Photodisc/Getty Images