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Take It Outside

Training for winter sports

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Take It Outside

There is growing evidence of a paradigm shift in the fitness industry toward athletic-oriented training. Just as elite athletes train for performance, many people want a fitness program that delivers a body that moves well and allows them to enjoy a full range of activities while remaining injury free.

There is growing evidence of a paradigm shift in the fitness industry toward athletic-oriented training. Just as elite athletes train for performance, many people want a fitness program that delivers a body that moves well and allows them to enjoy a full range of activities while remaining injury free.

During the cold, snowy winter season, it’s important to be physically ready for challenging activities. With the right preparation, you’ll be motivated into action and able to avoid the temptation of hibernating inside. Winter sports such as skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, and ice skating require balance, core power, and whole-body strength. In the winter, simply walking outside on icy streets or shovelling snow requires strength and balance.

A Good Day Outside

Strength train with whole-body exercises to enjoy the winter sport experience, avoid post-exercise muscle soreness, and prevent injuries. Body building influenced a health-club model of machine-based training with emphasis on isolating muscles, often done while in a seated position. In real life, however, the brain thinks in terms of movement, not individual muscles. This is why sports rehab specialists do such a thriving businesspeople are simply ill prepared for whole-body activities.

The taxing nature of winter sports can tear down the body, if you’re unprepared. Snowboarding requires great leg strength to negotiate turns at high speeds, land big jumps, and work against gravity and inertia on steep slopes. Snowshoeing needs the strength to power uphill, handle icy conditions, and stay stable late in the day. Skiers need reactive strength to make sharp adjustments in unpredictable environments and muscle-reaction skills for terrain changes that cannot be anticipated. On the mountain, they must be able to change directions quickly, transferring weight from edge to edge in an instant. Whole-body strength and muscle responsiveness also helps hockey players trying to avoid hits; figure skaters linking complex maneuvers; and all skaters who are dealing with ruts in outdoor rinks.

Linked for Life

Think of your body as a linked system that works together to coordinate athletic actions. Select exercises that require the entire body to coordinate the lifting action. This trains the body to become one seamless unit that can summon power through a chain of muscles progressing from toes to fingertips.

Whole-body linked-system strength training incorporates dynamic movement, demanding that all muscles contribute. Some muscles, such as the core and shoulders, will help stabilize the body so the legs and back can produce movement. Strength training on unstable surfaces prepares the nervous system for winter sports played out on snow and ice, as the mind must command certain muscles to correct balance while building strength.

Get Smart Muscles

At the end of the day, you can develop big, strong, dumb muscles or strong, smart muscles that contribute to success in your activity. Just because someone pumps it up in the weight room does not mean they will be stronger and better in their sport. Building linked strength through whole-body actions that integrate movement and stability, however, does ensure that strength can be harnessed in the outdoor sport environment.

You’ll find winter sports more inviting if you’ve built a strong, reactive body with improved ability to handle more technical terrain. If your body knows how to prevent and survive falls, you’ll have the confidence you need to get out there and soak it all up this winter.

Next month, we’ll talk about performance balance.

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