Don't have a gym membership or don't like to lift weights? Want to get in shape for the upcoming ski season? No problem. Make the outdoors your gym with a little creativity and a little dedication.
Steamboat Springs based personal trainer Chris Voyvodic, who spends each fall gearing skiers up for the season by leading outdoors ski fitness classes, believes outdoor training is the best option for skiers and snowboarders. "If you're motivated, it's better to train outside so you have to adapt to weather and changing conditions."
When you're ready to step up to outdoor circuit training, here's your workout.
WHAT YOU'LL NEED //
Find a log or bench, a short hill and a patch of grass. A sturdy log with good width can be used for a number of exercises and agility moves, Voyvodic explains. The stairs at your local high school football stadium are great as well.
THE EXERCISES //
Part one of your outdoor circuit is all about explosive exercies. Don't let these exercises get repetitive, that's why you're outside rather than in the gym. Each time you exercise, pick a few different ways of challenging your body: Jump over the log, on and off the log, perform toe taps, heel taps and calf raises. Balance on one leg, alternate and close your eyes. Walk along the top like you're on a tightrope or slackline.
"If you're motivated, it's better to train outside so you have to adapt to weather and changing conditions."
Remember that in all of these exercises, the lowering portion of the exercise is the most important for ski fitness. "The focus is on proper deceleration, otherwise joints get loaded improperly, poor habits develop and correct biomechanics are lost," says Voyvodic. "Exercises should include movements that transfer your weight from one hip to the other going back and forth." Complete the number of repetitions you would usually perform in a gym with a three-set series.
PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER //
Do a set on the log that includes toe taps and heel taps for 30 seconds each. After a set on the log, get down to the ground and do incline push ups, decline push-ups and tricep dips for 30 seconds.
Do another circuit of log exercises, then hit the hill for a 20-second sprint. Look ahead, dig deep, and pump your arms to help your legs. Walk slowly back down remembering to breath slowly and lower your heart rate.
Mix up the circuit from lower body to upper body, and design your own circuit moving through each agility exercise for at least 30 seconds. Voyvodic stresses to pace yourself, and go as slowly as needed in order to keep to the exercise for the entire time duration.
"Circuits are whatever you make them to be," Voyvodic says. "You can give yourself a light workout, or you can make yourself not be able to walk the next day. I just equate it to how many days I want on snow that winter."
Hit up your high school grandstands for a quad-burning stair routine for a real bear of a workout. Get creative by running, hopping, skipping stairs, adding a lunge, or going backwards. Thirty minutes of activity here will give your heart and your legs a great push. Again, lower your heart rate by walking at a slower pace.
"Those who push themselves the hardest on those days are always the most thankful for my class. I know it's because they feel super strong once it's ski season," Voyvodic said.
COOL DOWN //
Continue to cool down after the circuits and stairs with an express core routine. Lay on your back and do the bicycle slowly and in a controlled manner, bringing each knee to the opposite elbow. Roll over and do alternating leg and arm raises, just upper body, and just lower body will engage all back muscles for a burn. In order to have a strong core, you have to have a strong back to support it.
A complete cool down is just as important as your warm up. Stretch out the tired muscles. Let your heart rate come back to a normal beat before jumping in the car or plopping down on the couch.
Alternate your outdoor workout every other day with a lower-exertion fitness day in between. These days give your body a chance to recover while still flushing out built up lactic acid within the legs muscles. Keep to this plan and you'll be well on your way to a long and strong ski season.