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Culture » Get Out

Snowboard Shape-Up

Board Certified: Don't wait for resorts to open to get in prime snowboarding shape.



Shayna Page goes snowboarding maybe four times a year. Still, she doesn’t want to waste her expensive lift ticket sitting on the snow with sore calves. So she builds her calf muscles at home while preparing dinner—simply by raising up on her toes 30 or 40 times while standing in front of the sink. For snowboarders, the calves are the most important muscle to build, since they’re the “turn” muscles.

Calf raises are just one of many exercises snowboarders can do anywhere. You don’t have to go to a gym to get ready to ride. Though hard-core gym workouts help, you can get in great snowboard shape at home.

Take the advice of big mountain star Cody Barnhill. Yes, he’s a skier, but at Brighton’s “Big LePowSki” in February, he told everyone, “Both skiers and snowboarders need a strong core, though riders need more of a workout from the abs down.”

Truth is, those lower back muscles, abs and glutes (the butt) will do more than just keep you upright. For snowboarders, who don’t have independent leg motion like skiers, a strong lower core helps maintain edge-to-edge carving and prevents slamming into the snow.

Really good snowboarders ride in a crouch. If you want to be good for more than three turns, start doing squats. This exercise works the entire lower body, which is perfect for boarders. You don’t need a rack or a bar to do squats. In fact, if you want a totally snowboard-specific workout, put on your boots, strap on your board and slowly bend your butt as low to the ground as it will go, then stand up again. For proper form, bend your back slightly at the hips while aiming your eyes at the ceiling. Repeat the board squats until your agonized quads force you to stop.

Squats will give your thighs the workout they need to make you a smooth rider. When you’re going downhill on a board, your quads support the weight of your upper body, so they need to be strong. You can do squats in your living room while watching TV—or, better yet, do them with a snow-riding buddy. Challenge each other: Who can do the most squats? Who can get lower?

Another move for your quiver is to be able to push yourself back up if you start losing it. “Knuckledraggers” may be a slang term for snowboarders, but using your knuckles on snow for balance while riding fast and low works. To do it, you need strong obliques. These are the muscles on the side of the abs. A simple at-home oblique workout is to sit in a chair holding a heavy weight at chest level, then turn as far as you can in one direction, then the other. Do about 40 reps, and you’ll know exactly where your obliques are. This is another exercise you can do while strapped into your boots and board—outside, in your living room, or while poaching early season snow at the resorts. Hold the weight at chest level and turn just your upper body.

Other major muscles that need to be strong for snowboarding are the glutes. The cool thing about working the glutes is that they get rounder and firmer as they get stronger. The best glute exercise is the deadlift. To do it, stand with legs shoulder width apart, bend at the hips, and pick up a weight from the floor. Stand up, then bend at the hips and put the weight back down on the floor. Do this while strapped in for perfect conditioning.

The resorts may not open by Nov. 20, as scheduled. But if you work out at home, you’ll be in better shape than you’ve ever been by the time they do.