To avoid cramping and exhaustion the first day on the slopes, start now. You can take simple steps that will improve your muscle tone and body balance, strengthen your core and help keep you breathing easily. And early preparations not only make for better performance on the slopes, it will also help prevent injuries.
Experts agree that there are four areas of focus needed when getting ready for winter sports: endurance, stability, balance and flexibility.
Peak performance from your body means exercises that get you on a BOSU ball, as well as lunges, reverse lunges, squats and single-leg exercises. Also effective are step-up exercises — using a platform such as a sturdy stool or a balance board — and lunges to work on balance and coordination issues, 2-3 sets, 12 reps each, being sure to follow through on both sides.
To improve your core control, employ a total core circuit that includes exercises such as “double” crunches (so-called because you work your upper and lower abdominals by curling your legs toward your chest while simultaneously lifting your shoulder off the floor as in a regular crunch) and oblique twists.
Be Kind to Joints
To avoid a knee injury, strengthen the muscles around the knees. Consider lateral lunges, and a combination of compound exercises (squats, leg presses, lunges, step-ups) and isolation ones (single-leg extensions, ham curls) for the lower body to maximize results. And look for exercises that hit all four muscles of the quad, such as squats against a wall with a Swiss ball and quad extensions.
Keeping your muscles pliable and injury-free comes down to stretching when you’re warm, as often as possible. And how you stretch is just as important as how often. And remember not to just stretch and hold it, but gentle pulsing will allow you to push the stretch further.
Overall fitness is the key to success, with many local trainers advocating plyometrics — exercises that focus on explosive, quick movements to generate muscle power and speed — to improve on-slope speed and performance. Trainers also recommend yoga as a top way to improve flexibility, stability and coordination. And regularly eating well and getting a good night’s sleep is essential.