Most snowboarders know the aches and pains of the first day back on the hill—quads are burning, lower back is sore, and at some point you may feel like you are sliding out of control. Those black diamonds aren’t as easy as you remember from last season, are they?
“There’s nothing more enjoyable than snowboarding all day and getting those muscles strong through repetition,” says pro snowboarder Gabe Taylor, “but a solid cross training regiment can make long days easier and prepare you for getting back on the hill the next day.”
In a sport where terrain and snow conditions are constantly changing, snowboarders have to be fit and agile to minimize injury and maximize fun. While hitting the slopes and riding everyday gets snowboarders in shape, professional snowboarders cross train off the hill almost as much as they ride on snow.
And strength training isn’t just for the pros.
“Snowboarding requires coordination, agility, muscular endurance, and strength as well as good balance,” says Melanie Webb, a certified personal trainer and owner of Sol Fitness Adventures. “To be good and have more fun, snowboarders should get in shape.”
Snowboarders need to have the skills to slide down a steep mountain slope, respond to variable terrain and changing snow conditions—quickly. According to Webb, snowboarders should concentrate on strengthening the legs: “the big muscles like the quads and hamstrings, the little ones like the hip stabilizers and the calf, and as all female snowboarders know – the booty.”
“Also critical to good performance is a strong core: back and stomach,” Webb says. “And it’s a good idea to develop strong, stable shoulders and chest to easily absorb the shock of falls, especially if you’re a beginner.”
While pro athletes like Taylor and Kimmy Fasani agree that year-round strength training is important, getting outdoors and cross training on a bike is also key.
“It’s a good excuse to get exercise and stay active and healthy when you're not on a snowboard,” Fasani says. “Mountain biking reminds me of a perfect powder day cruising down the mountain with your friends through the trees.”
"Adventuring outdoors is good for the spirit while keeping the muscles fresh and strong," says Fasani. Aerobic conditioning is important for snowboarders like Fasani and Taylor, who spend a lot of time hiking and snowboarding in the backcountry.
“Snowboarding can require short bursts of all-out energy, but it’s mostly an endurance sport,” Webb explains. “This means that the goal of a cardiovascular training program for snowboarding would be to develop cardiovascular endurance, the kind of lung capacity that allows you to perform for long periods of time without getting winded.”
According to Webb, cardio workouts will train the heart to pump oxygen-carrying red blood cells to the muscles with great efficiency, which in the end will allow snowboarders to ride longer.
“Zumba is a great way to cross train,” Webb says. “Not only will it amp up the fun and sexy factor in your life, but the typical Zumba class consists of lateral movements, plenty of squatting and thrusting of the lower body, and toe to heal movements, all of which are required to successfully snowboard your way down the mountain.”
Trail running is great for agility and cardio, and swimming or surfing are great for low impact workouts, but Fasani and Taylor agree that mountain biking is their favorite form of cross training.
“Cycling is the most important form of exercise I use; I probably spend 7-10 hours a week on my mountain bike,” Taylor says. “Pedaling up, down and all around is an awesome way to get your legs strong and lungs fired up.”