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Get Your Body Ready for Winter Sports Season
Sep 26, 2013
The days are getting shorter, the temperatures are getting cooler and your body is itching to get started with the winter sports season. Before shredding down mountain slopes or scoring a hat trick at the ice rink, it’s important to first shed any extra lingering preseason weight as well as build a strong athletic base of strength, endurance and flexibility.
Whether you’re trying out a new cold weather activity this year or you’re a veteran winter sports athlete, prepare yourself for the conditions of the upcoming season by incorporating the following workouts into your fitness routine.
Novice Athletes: Elevate Your Game with High Intensity Interval Training
Squeezing in extra time to train for a winter sport can be quite a challenge when you first set out to prepare for the physical demands of the upcoming season. High intensity interval training (HIIT) can provide a quick but effective solution to your preseason training needs by revving up your body’s fat-burning engines and muscle-building stamina without taking over your entire day’s schedule.
“Interval training alternates short, intense anaerobic training sessions with active rest periods,” explains Sue Teoli, personal trainer and studio owner at Fitness Together New Canaan. “It’s a really efficient way to get results and a great workout option for people who are squeezed for time.”
HIIT typically includes a combination of strength training movements and cardio exercises. An HIIT workout could include a set of 30 seconds of squat thrusts, 25 push-ups, 30 seconds of jumping jacks, 25 body weight squats and 30 seconds of jumping rope, completed three times with rest in between each set and followed by a one-mile run.
When starting out, Teoli suggests doing high intensity workouts every other or every third day, depending on how your body feels.
“High intensity interval training is not a workout where you can read a magazine while working out,” Teoli explains. “You’re working your whole body and you’re getting your heart rate up. This type of training offers something different that will get you the results you are looking for.”
Seasoned Athletes: Train for Peak Performance with Plyometrics
If you are ready to bring power, strength and agility to your game this season, then plyometric exercises may be your ideal preseason preparation tool. As a high intensity muscle-activation training strategy, adding plyometric moves such as box jumps, jump squats and alternating hopping lunges into a fitness regimen can help condition you for sports that require your lower body to highly impact the ground. In the sport of downhill skiing, plyometric training can help prepare your connective tissues to better withstand certain impacts such as landing high elevation jumps or bouncing around tightly groomed moguls.
To begin incorporating plyometrics into your workouts, Billy Pratt, personal trainer and studio owner at Fitness Together Avon, suggests adding only 10 to 15 minutes of plyometric exercises to the beginning of a 45-minute speed or agility training workout. When doing plyometrics, you should aim to complete multiple sets of one exercise with ample recovery time between each set (i.e. six sets of six box jumps with a 90-second recovery time after each set). It’s important to do the plyometric exercises on the front end of your workout when you have the most energy and strength so you reduce the risk of compromising your form due to fatigue.
“There is a higher risk of injury with this type of training,” Pratt says. “Plyometrics is for someone who is in good shape and who doesn’t have any pre-existing injuries. I reserve plyometric workouts for athletes who can handle it.”
Pratt cautions against adding too many plyometric workouts into your overall training plan and advises adding adequate recovery time after your workouts (48-72 hours). And, just like any type of exercise, proper form is paramount in plyometric training.
“Plyometrics are to be taken seriously,” Pratt advises. “It’s not a game and there can be a high risk of injury if not done properly. If you are going to do it, make sure you have a knowledgeable coach who can help you.”
Every Athlete: Build Power with a Strong Core
Whether you are a newbie or a veteran on the winter sports scene, building a strong core should be a primary focus for every cold weather competitor. The core is more than tucking in your tummy and doing hundreds of sit-ups every day. A strong core means having good balancing skills that keep you from wiping out on a black diamond ski run and crashing into the boards during a hockey game or figure skating event.
“All of your strength and balance comes from your core,” says Teoli. “Any time you balance you are stabilizing, which means you are working every muscle in your body.”
Teoli stresses the importance of strengthening the core and lower back with all of her clients and especially all athletes. By focusing on building the muscles on both the front and back side of your mid-section, you will establish a strong foundation that can give you an edge on the competition. Teoli suggests adding sit-ups, superman, and plank variations (front, side, moving, etc.) to any workout routine.
Before you hit the slopes or make your hockey debut this season, focus first on preparing your body in the preseason for the physical demands of winter sports. With the right mix of strength, cardiovascular and core training, you will be well on your way to a rewarding winter season.