If you’re a snowboarder, you’re familiar with terms that people might use to describe you such as “knuckle dragger”, “shredder”, “berm buster”.
If you don’t know what those mean, that’s okay – neither did we the first time we heard them!
“Bed rider”, that’s a term you might not want to hear this upcoming snowboarding season. If you’re too injured to “shred the gnar”, you might end up healing up in bed the whole winter from your injuries.
As with any sport or physical activity, one way to help prevent yourself from getting in that position is to prepare yourself for the sport with some pre-snowboard exercises.
Snowboarding is healthy sport, but is also rigorous and at times can be a dangerous activity, but it just happens to be one of the coolest (pun completely intended) things you can do this winter. By prepping yourself with some simple snowboarding exercises, we can prepare your body for the winter season.
What Your Body Goes Through When Skiing
We’re highly recommend that you prepare your body for what you’re about to put it through when skiing – especially if you’re not a very active person in your day to day lifestyle.
But doing some simple exercises for snowboarding at home will absolutely make the difference throughout your season.
Each time you head up for some serious shredding, you’re going to burn anywhere between 600-1200 calories every hour. Even if you’re a beginner, you’re going to expend some energy on the hill, and you’ll feel the toll on your body the next day.
Your legs will be sore, your bum will be bruised, your abs will be sore and your entire body will feel tight and aching.
But you can help prevent and ease these aches if you take the time to prepare for the day. You should plan ahead before you head out for a boarding session. Make a plan to start a training regime 4-6 weeks, at a minimum, to avoid the cost of aching muscles, or injured body parts. Snowboard fitness is so important.
We want you to stay safe and have fun on the slopes this season, so we’ve compiled some of the best snowboard exercises that you can do at home, giving you access to a world of workouts designed to get your body into shape, specifically training you to handle the rigours of snowboarding this winter.
We’ve broken it down into the main areas you’ll need to focus on for maximum results; legs and core. Once you target these areas, you’ll prepare yourself to overcome injury, last longer during the day, and even recover much more quickly from any nasty falls you may (probably) have on the hill. This snowboard workout is your key to a better winter experience.
Let’s first talk about your legs…
If you’re going out for the hundredth time, or if you’re simply wanting to give it a go, snowboarding is tough on your legs. Make no bones about it, you will be feeling the burn after a few hours of leaning back on forth on the board, twisting and turning, bouncing over bumps and jostling over jumps.
You need to prepare your legs for what’s about to come with some targeted snowboarding exercises on each muscle group of the legs.
Ok, let’s begin with one of the most important muscle groups you’ll need to train. It’s not going to be easy to prepare this set of muscles, but it will be so crucial to having the best snowboarding experience you can.
Your quads are located at the front of your legs, above your knees. They’re important for snowboarding and because they’re so big, they’re going to be doing a lot of the work.
Let’s be honest, we all hated this exercise in school, but now we realise just how powerful it can be for training those pesky quads.
Using any wall as support, lean against it, lowering your body down so that your back is straight and flat against the wall with your legs bent at a 90 degree angle. It should feel like you’re sitting on an invisible chair.
Staring straight ahead, hands on your knees, hold that position for up to 2 minutes if you can, but if this is your first time try something lower like 30 seconds. You’ll feel the burn in this isometric exercise. That’s just a fancy word for not moving the muscle back and forth. By holding it in position, you’re allowing the muscle to fatigue and then rebuild tissue stronger.
Bulgarian Split Squats
One of the best ways to get an even snowboarding workout across either side of your body is to isolate each limb on its own. Using this simple squat you can do at home, you can focus on building up your quads on your left and right legs individually.
Using a chair, a bench, or even a set of stairs, place one leg behind you, resting on the edge. You should be able to bend down and lower your knee to the floor while your foot remains elevated.
Using the elevated foot as your balance, lower your body until the knee almost touches the floor, keeping your knee centred over your ankle while you dip. This unilateral exercise should be done 10-12 reps on each leg, resting a few minutes in between each set.
Your calves are the muscles at the back your legs below your knee, above your ankle.
To build your calf muscles, we need to find ways to isolate that muscle so that you’re not relying on the heavier, workhorse quads to do all the effort.
We’ve included two different snowboard exercises here that should put all the weight on your calves, building them up and prepping them for the slopes.
To begin, let’s use a calf raise to isolate this muscle group. Use a plank of wood, a thick book, or a free weight lying flat on the ground. Stand on it with your heels hanging over the edge. Keep your weight on the balls of your feet.
Raise your body up on your tiptoes. Hold a couple seconds then lower your heels down as far as they can, to the floor if you can manage it.
Beginners should use just their body weight, but if you’re looking for something more advanced, trying holding weights in your hands while performing this move.
The calves should do most of the work, so adjust your position until the entire movement is being performed by the lower leg muscles.
We don’t need a video to explain what running up a hill looks like. Just find a hill and, well, run up it.
At least twice a week, supplement your program with an uphill run. That will force your calf to push your body’s weight, and keep your balance at the same time.
As you run, focus on keeping your calf muscles engaged. If this becomes easy, or in the days leading up to your snowboarding session, try doing a couple of these runs backwards or up your speed and run down the hill too. This will force your leg muscles to prepare for the extreme effort you’ll use during the boarding season.
Ankles and Shins
Your lower legs might not do a lot of work when they’re strapped in to your boots, but you still strengthen them. This will enable to you to keep power in your ankles and shins, carving more easily across the fresh powder and combed runs you’ll encounter.
This is also crucial for preventing season-ending injuries that could sideline you when you least expect it.
Using a cone, a book, or simply marking a spot on the ground, start to alternate legs while jumping back and forth over the spot.
With one leg going back and one leg leading forward, land on the balls of your feet before “scissoring” your legs to alternate back. Do a set of 12-15 jumps before giving your legs a break. This will help increase your mobility in your ankles as well as improving your reaction time in your feet.
Here’s a very quick (seriously, very quick) example of what we’re talking about…
By far, one of the most effective snowboard exercises you can do for your ankle and shin strength is to jump rope. It’s so much more than just a kid’s play activity.
Start with some simple skipping to begin working on your ankle strength. Keep your weight on the balls of your feet, trying to hop lightly and not use your knees. The power from your jumps should come from your ankles and lower legs mostly.
Here’s a tutorial that will show you the proper technique of using a skipping rope.
Snowboard Exercises for Core and Abs
If you’re getting ready for a day out on the slopes, the most efficient way to prepare your body is to build a better core. You’ll depend on that grouping of muscles on your abs, your sides and your lower back to give you “oomph” throughout the day.
As you twist and turn, carving up the slopes, your core is keeping you balanced and providing all the power for your run. Look after your body with some simple core exercises to keep your body in tip-top shape.
In the seated position on the ground, try to engage your core as you raise your legs up. For beginners, keep your feet on the ground. With your hands together, twist form one side to other as if you’re moving an object from one side of your body to the other.
In an intermediate position, elevate your feet off the ground to further engage your core. If you’re silly good at this, use a medicine ball or some other heavy weight to move across your body.
This will engage those twisting muscle movements that you depend on for a good ride on the mountain.
We talked earlier about isometric exercises, muscle movements that don’t go back and forth. This hollow hold is one of the most efficient isometric exercises for your abs.
Lying flat on the ground with your legs outstretched, raise your head up, hands stretched up above your head. Now raise your feet off the floor, making sure that your lower back remains pressed flat against the floor.
See the video for more variations if you’re not ready to hold this position for long.
Side planks also work on a key muscle group for snowboarders; the obliques or the side abdominals. These side abdominal muscles are one of your driving muscles for power and turning.
Start in a normal plank position, with your elbows on the ground and your feet together. Now, raise one arm up, reaching for the sky while your turn your entire boy 90 degrees to your left or right. Keep your feet together and hold this position for 30-90 seconds before alternating to the opposite side.
Knee to Elbow Crunches
For a complete abdominal muscle workout, the knee-to-elbow crunches work just about every core muscle group you have.
Start in a crunch position on the ground. Bring your knee and opposite elbow together while you perform a crunch. This works the upper, lower, and side abs all in one movement. It also works on your twisting motion to help eliminate the possibility of injury.
These exercises for snowboarding are for the advanced user because they are so difficult to perform. The starting position is lying on your back with your arms raised and your legs bent up.
Operating the opposite leg and arm, start to slowly lower your leg down and your arm back down to the floor. Without touching the ground, come up again to alternate arms and legs. You’ll feel the complexity of this movement in many different muscle groups.
This is also called the Superman exercise for good reason. You can’t ignore your back when exercising your core muscles. This is harder than it looks, but it’s so good for preventing a tired, achy back that could put you out of commission.
Lying flat on your stomach with your arms outstretched in front of you, raise your head up. Now with the opposite arm and leg, raise them up off the ground, holding in a tight position for a few seconds. Lower them down again before using the alternate arm and leg. Repeat until your back feels the burn.
Best Stretches for Snowboarding
Of course, part of keeping your body safe on the slopes is the do some post-sport stretches. We’re going to outline just a couple that do well to target those muscles you’ve used the most.
These stretches are best done within a couple hours of finishing up for the day. It should loosen and elongate those tense, tired muscles and help you sleep easier and recover faster.
With a tree or a wall, lunge forward with your hands pressed against the wall or tree. Push your hind leg backwards, pushing out and down your heel. You should feel a stretch all along your calves and thighs and glutes.
Hold for about 30 seconds before changing legs.
The video demonstrates an advanced form of this pose, still effective, and it’s worth working up to this level of deep stretch
IT Band Stretch
One area that’s tough to stretch is called the IT band, short for the “iliotibial band” which operates your hips and glutes and inner thighs.
Follow the video’s instructions on this one because it’s difficult to replicate without directed instructions. This works so well for snowboarders who often get tense muscles and worn knees. Take the time to lengthen those tight muscles and you’ll be ready to pop up again the very next day.
And again, to avoid injury and prevent tense muscles from seizing up, the groin stretch is so important. Sitting with your feet together in front of you, and your knees bent, push your knees down to the ground and keep the soles of your feet pressed together.
As low as you can manage, press your body forward, stretching out your groin as you sink lower down. This stretch actually helps before the days’ session as well as recovering from it afterwards.
We hope that you spend a good amount of time boarding the slopes. The powder is fresh, the runs are combed, the chairlifts are waiting and the jumps are pristine. A quick 4-6 week plan of snowboard exercises should prepare you adequately.
All that’s left is for your body to be ready to tackle it all. Safe shredding, dudes!