You can expect to spend your first day snowboarding primarily falling on your butt. If you’re lucky. More likely, you’ll be face planting in a lift line or awkwardly summersaulting down the slopes before you look as graceful and elegant as Hannah Teter. To get conditioned for your first season of snowboarding, you need to exercise the muscles that help you get up off your butt, the stabilizers that keep you from falling, and the muscles that help you actually work the slopes with style.
Snowboard boots weight less and allow for more movement than ski boots, but they get heavy after a short trudge through snow, especially if it has freshly fallen. Begin conditioning your legs with endurance and strength exercises at least two weeks before you go snowboarding. For endurance, use the stair stepper machine three times a week for about 15 to 20 minutes each time. Build leg strength with a leg press machine with the weight set so you can complete only eight to 12 repetitions.
Balance and Flexibility
There’s a reason surfers love yoga; it develops balance, focus and core strength. Snowboarding requires similar physical skills, so hit the yoga studio before you hit the slopes. Some poses help you stay upright on your board by developing balance, particularly Tree Pose, Warrior I, II and III and Reverse Warrior. Other poses strengthen your arms and core to help you get off the ground if you’ve fallen: Downward Dog, Plank and Crane. Also increase your flexibility with Triangle Pose, Cobra and Locust Pose. You don’t even want to know of all the crazy positions you can end up in when you dismount a moving lift, on ice, with a board strapped to one foot. Comical, yes. Pretty, well, not so much. Engage in yoga every day if you wish, but at least three times a week before and during the season.
Not only does core strength help you get off the ground before your butt freezes solid, but it also works in conjunction with your balance so you don’t end up there in the first place. Strengthen both your abdominal and lower back muscles for a balanced core. Some especially good exercises include scissor kicks, the prone superman, the bicycle maneuver and the side plank.
As you get better at snowboarding and spend more time upright, leg power helps you direct your board where you want it to go. It becomes easier as you get the hang of it, and increasing power makes snowboarding much more fun. Plyometric lunges and squats increase both power and strength by fully stretching the muscles of your legs at the bottom of the move followed by an explosive burst upward. Do two sets of 15 repetitions of each exercise three times a week in conjunction with your strength workouts.
Pamela Ellgen began writing in 2000 for "The Asian Reporter" newspaper. She is an award-winning journalist and writes on religion, culture, health and fitness. Ellgen graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in writing from Washington State University and is a certified personal trainer with the National Academy of Sports Medicine.