This time of year, right after the clocks turn back and the drizzle descends, it’s tempting to wrap up in a blanket, turn on the new season of Top Chef, and work on really perfecting that chocolate chip cookie recipe.
The best thing about mud season, however, is that it’s the ideal time to get in the best shape for winter, and use those drizzly days to get indoors (weird, right?!) and work on a few key moves to really help your strength and power on the mountain.
My current approach to getting ready for winter is divided into the three normal parts that everyone knows—strength, cardio, and flexibility—with an overarching emphasis on core and booty strength (hips, butt, and hamstrings). I like to alternate days between strength and longer cardio, or try to do a mellow walk, run, or bike ride if I want to get outside on the same day as a gym workout.
1. For strength, Tabata-style workouts (also known as high-intensity interval training) really make me huff and work hard, either in a class at the gym or on my own. Some good ones can be found online, and all you need is a couple dumbbells to do Spartacus, for example. I heard about it from a friend who said that in her fire-fighting days she would do it once a week and it never failed to make her sore. I concur! If you’ve never done this type of workout, please talk to an expert at your gym first or start without weights as the worst bummer is to injure yourself just trying to get stronger for the season.
2. For cardio, the right strength workouts, like those mentioned above, can cover this portion, but I find that hills and stairs always do wonders for ski muscles. Also, getting outside in the blustery fall weather gets me pumped for the season once I put on a rain jacket and get out there. A long run or hike, mountain or road bike ride, or stair intervals are all awesome for ski fitness and they also do wonders for overcoming seasonal moodiness.
3. Flexibility is super important to injury prevention and recovery—keeping those hips loose and moving properly can really take the pressure off your knees. Flexible hips help ensure you’re using the right muscles for the right job. Stretching is always the easiest skiing exercise to put off, but here’s where Top Chef can actually come in handy—I tell myself that I can only watch it if I stretch while doing so. Pigeon pose, warrior pose, and figure-4 stretches are all really great for your hips and derriere. Just go easy on yourself if you’re doing a ton of yoga—I always have to remind myself that yoga is not a competitive sport.
4. For your core, standard ab stuff (like situps) is great, but keep your obliques and your back muscles in mind, too! Plank exercises are very important for building core strength for skiing:
- Get into plank pose and hold for 30 seconds. Always try to keep your hips raised and level during any planks, engage your core, and relax and pull your shoulders down.
- If you’re feeling strong, alternate tapping feet while you hold the plank pose.
- You can also do reverse planks with your bottom off the floor and raising alternate feet.
5. Spartacus (and similar routines) will work your glutes and hamstrings, but my physical therapists have pretty much all given me one of these resistance bands and told me to do this skiing exercise:
- Put the band around your ankles and get in a squat position with feet shoulder-width apart.
- Take 10-20 steps one way.
- Stop, stand up and do 10-15 glute raises (lift your leg to the side) with the outside leg.
- Do the 10-20 steps back the other way and do 10-15 glute raises on the other leg.
Ingrid Backstrom, Elyse Saugstad, Lel Tone, Michelle Parker, and Jackie Paaso led an all-women’s avalanche safety course at Stevens Pass, WA earlier in December. Very cool! Women are outnumbered in skiing and snowboarding, and it’s great to see such role model women taking the lead to spread safety awareness and promote backcountry skiing & riding!
Warren Miller Entertainment releases the trailer for it’s 2015 film, “Chasing Shadows”
Warren Miller Entertainment spent the 2015 shred season traveling the globe in search of epic pow for its latest film production, Chasing Shadows. Along for the ride was a stacked roster of athletes, including: Rory Bushfield, Chris Benchetler, Pep Fujas, Eric Pollard, Matt Philippi, Lexi duPont, McKenna Peterson, Marcus Caston, Ian McIntosh, Ingrid Backstrom, Sage Cattabriga-Alosa, Jonny Moseley, Caroline Gleich and Mark Abma, among others. The film will feature shots from Nepal, Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, Alaska, France, Chile, Italy, Japan and Switzerland. Check out the trailer, above, and stay tuned for further info on where and when you can see the entire flick.