Words by Caroline Brauer |
Flights and chalet booked to your favourite overseas snow destination? Check. Snow starting to fall in the northern hemisphere? Check. Now is the time to start your snow fitness assault so you can arrive for your skiing or snowboarding holiday in tip top shape to take on the northern hemisphere’s Alps. Here are five reasons why you need to work on those buns of steel and Schwarzenegger-like quads to get the most out of your snow holiday.
1. Make the most of it!
You’ve spent some serious coin on this snow holiday, right? There’s Christmas ham to enjoy and all the trimmings that go with that between now and when you board that plane, right? Chances are, if you don’t commit to any sort of snow fitness preparation, you’re going to arrive at your resort of choice in less than ideal condition. The result? Less time on the hill, less enjoyment, more muscle pain, less gain all round. You might as well burn the money you’ve spent on your snow holiday as you just won’t be maximizing your opportunity to have the best overseas snow holiday ever.
Instead, if you pack a solid level of snow fitness into your travel bag, you’ll be skiing or snowboarding harder, faster and with less leg burn. With well conditioned muscles and a good level of cardiovascular fitness you’ll be well placed to spend most of the day on the hill, as well as being able to recover faster so you can back up those endless powder days, day after day, after day. Winning.
Manuela Berchtold, Director of Snow Fitness and two-time Winter Olympian, says the key to maximizing the experience is ensuring you get in the best shape possible. Berchtold says “it’s especially important to incorporate snowboard and ski exercises into your regime so that the muscles you use more of when skiing or snowboarding (like your quads, your gluteus maximus and abdominals) are well conditioned to take on the incredible, yet quite demanding conditions that the northern hemisphere resorts can offer”.
2. Northern Hemisphere resorts are bigger, higher, steeper and deeper
It is no secret that northern hemisphere resorts are bigger, higher, steeper and deeper than their humble Aussie counterparts. The result? Skiing overseas is generally more taxing on our bodies. Add to this an increase in altitude and you could be calling it a day before lunch on your first day on the hill. Oops.
Instead, if you snap to it and commit to a fitness program incorporating skiing and snowboarding exercises now, you’re giving yourself the best chance of adapting to the demanding northern hemisphere conditions. To deal with the increase in altitude, Berchtold recommends combining cardiovascular conditioning (like cycling or running) with skiing and snowboarding strength exercises.
If you’re heading to a powder mecca like Japan, you’ll need to give particular attention to strengthening your quads and core, espeically if you like to ‘sit back and boogie’ like many of us do when skiing or snowboarding in the fluffy stuff.
Snow Fitness, which offers online training programs specifically targeted at snow fitness, provides its members with over 600 snowboarding and skiing exercises that deliver proven results. Best of all, half an hour a day is all you’ll need and because the programs are delivered online, you can achieve results anytime, anywhere.
3. Keep up with your mates!
Honestly, who wants to be the person everyone is waiting for at the end of each run? If you’re not snow fit, you’re going to have a harder time keeping up with your friends, or worse, your family – that day when your kids are ripping past you leaving a plume of powder in your face. Ouch!
Being unprepared physically means you’ll need to stop more often for a breather more frequently, as well as being slower than the pack. The result? Your friends or family may try to ditch you, particularly on that powder day you’ve all been waiting for.
To combat this, Berchtold recommends committing to a Snow Fitness membership. If you’ve left it to the last minute, the 10-Day Program will give you a snow-fit boost. Or if you’ve got a bit more time up your sleeve, the 30-Day Program will really ramp up your snowboarding or skiing exercise. It’s perfect to do pre-departure and will deliver real, sustained results. Snow Fitness offers a bunch of other programs including Snow-Specific Core Care, Knee Preparation for the Snow or Snow Specific Leg Care, catering for almost every snow fitness requirement. Membership gives you access to everything, and it’s only $29 per month, or $199 per year with no lock in contact. Or, sign up for a free trial to get a taster for what’s on offer!
4. Avoid injury
You might have souped up your insurance cover to include skiing and snowboarding, but honestly, who wants to actually use it? If you’re not snow fit, you’re increasing your risk of injury when you hit northern hemisphere resorts.
Not only are northern hemisphere resorts higher, steeper and deeper, they can also be more variable in conditions due to their sheer size (meaning less consistent grooming), more off-piste access and change in snow conditions from firm and fast at the top to soft and slushy by the time you get to the bottom. This means you’ll need to adapt to ever-changing conditions with a snow fit body; otherwise you risk injuring yourself.
In particular, knees that aren’t supported by the right amount of muscle put you in the high risk category of injury. Snow Fitness’ stash of skiing and snowboarding exercises will help build up the right amount of muscle to support knees and avoid injury. You can even concentrate on your weaker areas with Snow Fitness’ targeted programs like the Snow-Specific Core Care or Knee Preparation for the Snow.
5. Earn your turns
What most northern hemisphere resorts offer that Aussie resorts generally lack, is incredible off-piste terrain that is accessible by a hike. The exhilaration of making it to the very top of a mountain with knock-out views and then ripping down the peak on your skis or snowboard is what dreams are made of. Even better, off-piste terrain will usually boast the best, untouched snow on the hill – with much less crowds. But you actually have to work for it.
While the hike may be quite short, in some popular overseas snow destinations like Aspen Highlands you’ll be ascending to as high as 4,342 feet (1,323m) to hike Highland Bowl. This means there’ll be less oxygen on offer, making the hike extra demanding, even from your first step. So you’ll definitely need a high level of snow fitness to take on the hike, let alone the best part – the descent.
Words by Caroline Brauer