Winter Prep

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Celeste_1.jpgMy seven suggestions to get you ready for your winter sport on the slopes this season!

by Celeste St.Pierre

Of course I am writing this on an airplane on my way to Hawaii. Skiing is not on my mind, except to write this blog, but it is October, so hopefully it is on your mind.

The ideal situation would be that you take your fitness into consideration year round and not just when the temps start to drop in New Hampshire. Now if you have been leaving room in your day to get some exercise, October may be the time you shift your energy and focus on to specific exercises that will strengthen your muscles and cardio system for winter sports. If this is you, then this blog may be a little helpful to you by perhaps offering you something you haven't done or considered doing before. Read on and see what you can learn, or read on and feel supported in what you are already doing.

But this blog will address those of you starting at ground zero with your fitness. This is for those of you where winter snow sports are the only thing you do for exercise in the year. So I start you off slow and build.

Step one is to start now. Once you finish reading step one, put this article aside, for now, and go do step one. Step one is to start walking! This is not a walk the dog moment, leave Fido at home. Make this time for you to get out there, nonstop walk. Start with 20 minutes as in 5 minutes slow to warm up, 10 min fast, then 5 minutes slow again. The challenge for you is to "know" what slow and fast are as they are subject to your own interpretation. Best scenario for this would be if you had a heart rate monitor-a chest strap and watch that you wear that records your heart rate in real time- to use as a measurement of your fast and slow or in other words your intensity. But I recognize that not everyone has one. You can always experiment with one by renting one from the Viaggio Spa and Health Club. They are a very simple, easy to use tool that gives you the bio-feedback which is more accurate than your perceived rate of exertion. I'll save more detailed heart rate use for another post. If you want to learn more, in the meantime, contact me through email and I'll be happy to fill you in then.

Until then consider slow to be the pace you use when you are walking en route to do something you don't really want to do, like go to the Mall for instance, shopping for a refrigerator. You know that slow, casual, stroll? Make that your slow, warm up pace. Then on the flip side, consider your fast is like you are now done shopping in the mall and now you need to find the nearest exit! Then once outside, go back to your slow stroll as a warm down.

Do this 3-6 times in a week. Then each week you can gradually add on 1-5 min for the warm-up and warm-down, and 5 min each week to the main part where you go fast! Build incrementally, and be consistent, up to an hour. This slow progression will allow your muscles and heart to strengthen and develop slowly. The gradual, and I will stress consistent approach, will also be less likely to be the root of any injury further down the road. You may also find it more enjoyable and therefore more likely to follow through and do it.

Walking will get your legs strong as well as tap into your cardiovascular system-translation-less burn on those thighs as you make your way down the slopes! Wahoo! This means more time doing your sport and less time recovering from each run in the lodge. More runs, more bang for your, ticket, bucks. Win, win, win!

Ok, so that was step one. Leave this post to go for your walk, now, before coming back to read on.

Step two of your conditioning comes in after you've been walking, consistently, for about 3-4 weeks. Your body has adapted. Muscles are stronger, cardio system is more efficient, and a key consideration is that joints, ligaments, and tendons are all stronger to support the working body. Again, translation, reduced chance for injury.

Now you are ready for more strength based work. This can mean adding in hills to your walking. Maybe add in a beginner spin class or stationary cycling on your own. When walking hills, you don't, initially, need to go fast. The hill itself is the increase just by going up it! Hills are great for lower body, hips, gluteus-butt muscles, hamstrings, quads, but also core, and arms as you add in arm swing. Walk back down the hill before going up again. Start with2-3 times up a hill that takes: 30 seconds. And like your walking, gradually add in a few more hill climbs or increase the duration. Eventually you can increase your intensity. Hills are not to be done every day, just add them in one day each week. Hey, and if you live near the ski area, use the bunny slope, or work road, as your hill, with permission from the ski are of course.

Do the same for your cycling, add it in one day each week in place of one of your walking days. Just be wise to build it gradually, meaning add a few 5-10 minutes each week.

Step three, once you are about 4 weeks into your conditioning is time to get down on the floor to do a few planks, push-ups, and core moves. The idea here is to develop a sense of your stabilizing stomach muscles. A plank, get into a push-up position and just hold it. If you are not ready to do a plank from the feet, do it from your knees. Too much on the upper body? Try it from the elbows. If your muscles in the middle are weak, you sure will find out very quickly with this one!

From the plank, roll over onto your back. Lay on your back, arms at your sides, knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Start by lifting the head and shoulders from the floor while simultaneously pressing the lower back and spine firmly, and deeply into the floor, let your arms rest along the side if your torso. Hold for a count of 10 before lowering back down. Even the fittest of them all can benefit from this one, so give it a go. Then roll back to your plank and add in a few push- ups. Push-ups are a whole body exercise. You will feel your stomach muscles, arms, chest, shoulders, legs and glutes in this one. Do them from your knees or up on your toes. You may need to start with one, but one quality-appropriate form-is more helpful than none!  Go for quality of the move not quantity if quantity means poor form.

From push-up roll back onto your back. From here lay with your lower back pressing into the floor, head also on the floor. Lift both legs straight up in the air while simultaneously pressing hips and low back down. Hold straight legs for 10 seconds. Bend them in or bring them back to the floor to rest.

These are a few exercises you can do with your own body weight to build strength for snow season. There are many more out there. Whatever you do, just grow gradually, let your body adapt. Your mind might be very willing, give the body time to come along.

Now you are into 6-7 weeks of your gradual build. The ski areas have probably opened by now. But don't stop with your fitness routine! Keep it going, maybe one or two days less than what you have been doing to allow for your days on the snow. You may even want to replace your body weight strength routine with a trip to the weight room to continue to build some strength even as the snow season progresses.

Make time now to get your body ready for when the snow flies or the snow guns are piling up the white stuff. Your body will feel better and above all you will have a more enjoyable season because you will get in more runs!!

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October 31, 2014  |   Share: