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|September 24 -30, 2009
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Train now for winter
by Wina Sturgeon
It doesn’t matter what you do in the winter: ski, snowboard, skate or sled — you won’t have much fun at it if you’re a weak wuss. The stronger your legs, and especially the stronger your core, the better you will be at your chosen winter sport.
Bill Skinner, head coach of Masters ski racing’s champion Intermountain Division, found out in a way that could not be denied. As he approached his 50s, Skinner went from being one of the top Masters racers in the country to sliding down to middle of the pack. Two years ago, he decided to try for an athletic comeback. He started working out with a carefully designed program, never missing a day.
When ski racing season came around in December, Skinner dominated. Most of the guys he beat were 20 years younger.
“The harder you train, the faster you can go,” Skinner says.
He advises regular skiers and recreational racers to have a consistent workout routine, though he adds having a family and a job may interfere with training. But if you’re a winter athlete, Skinner says, “Always do something every day, even if it’s just a warm up. Get your body used to moving athletically, so it isn’t stiff when you get on the hill.”
Even if you don’t have time to get to the gym, you can accomplish a full core workout on your living room floor. Start with crunches.
With feet flat on the floor and knees raised, lift your arms towards your kneecaps and raise your upper body as high as you can. Do 20 of these, then work on your obliques, the muscles on the sides of your abs. As you lift up in a crunch, twist your torso sideways, so your arms aim for one side of your kneecaps. Do 20 on one side, then 20 on the other. When that gets easy, as it soon will when your muscles get stronger, vary the oblique crunches so you do first one side, then the other, for 40 reps.
Next are back raises, which strengthen the spinal erectors. Lay on your stomach with your arms at your sides. Take a deep breath and hold it, while lifting your upper body as far as you can for 20 reps. As you get stronger, try to also lift your legs. Think of this exercise as trying to lift your body up, leaving as little as possible on the floor. You probably won’t be able to do it, but keeping the image in your mind will help.
Squats, dead lifts and good mornings are all excellent exercises to strengthen the lower body, but a strong core is what will allow you to make quick balance corrections if you start to fall, so that you can stay upright. A strong core equals a good save. It will also allow an instant direction change, which as any winter athlete knows, is necessary to make a gate or avoid a tree.
Strength is the factor that will make a day of skiing or snowboarding fun. Weak muscles will burn and tire quickly. Instead of jamming down the hill or playing in the pipe, you’ll pay all that money for a lift ticket and spend most of the day in the lodge, hating your aching thighs.
(c) 2009, Adventure Sports Weekly (adventuresportsweekly.com)
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