The hummingbirds are long gone, the leaves are off the Aspen trees, the black bears are headed to torpor and those little white flakes have morphed into feet of snow. Yes, winter is here and there’s good news — it’s time for Coloradans of all ages to get outside and play in the white fluffy stuff.
Whether your winter activity is snowboarding or snowshoeing, downhill or cross-country skiing, snowmobiling or snowboarding, sledding or tubing, ice skating or just taking a stroll through the national forest, Colorado offers a winter wonderland of opportunities. With myriad possibilities to play in the snow comes the physical challenge of being in good enough shape to not only have enjoyable outings but do so injury-free. All the winter activities require a degree of balance, coordination, core strength, flexibility, upper- and lower-body strength and a reasonable amount of cardiovascular fitness.
Here’s a novel idea — how about getting in shape before you head out this winter to tackle Mother Nature. Snowsports primarily challenge the lower-body with the upper-body, core strength and balance and flexibility playing a supporting role. You can start laying down your aerobic foundation by walking, jogging, biking, rowing, swimming or joining an aerobics class. Begin conservatively with 20 to 30 minutes and gradually work your way up to 45 minutes, 2 to 3 days a week. Initially, your perception of your aerobic workout should be between “light to somewhat hard.” Gradually, increase your intensity to “somewhat hard to hard.”
Strength training 2 to 3 days a week (on days you’re not doing aerobics) with a total body program will serve you well. Prioritize training your quads, hamstrings, glutes and hips. Leave time in your weight workout to do some upper-body exercises concentrating on your back, chest and abs. Strength train for 30 to 45 minutes allowing 48 hours of recovery time between each session. Do 2 to 3 sets of 8 to 12 repetitions with each set being slightly heavier. Start with light-weights and progress slowly to heavier-weights. If you’re unfamiliar with weightlifting, hire a personal trainer. Both Woodland Fitness (719-686-8800) and Snap Fitness (719-686-6494) in Woodland Park offer training with certified personal trainers.
A stretching routine is essential to reduce muscle soreness and soft tissue injuries. Your flexibility program should target your back, shoulders, groin, quadriceps, hamstrings and gluteal muscles. Stretch daily and before and after playing in the snow. If stretching is foreign, pick up Bob Anderson’s book or DVD “Stretching” on Amazon.
Add core conditioning and balance by including the Stability Ball in your workout routines. A Stability Ball program will enhance the strength of your abdominal, oblique and low back muscles and improve your balance helping reduce your risk of falling. Both the Stability Ball and comprehensive DVDs are available on Amazon.
Last, but not least, add plyometric exercises to your winter sport routine. Plyometrics consist of exercises designed to develop muscular power, speed, agility, reflexes, coordination, visual acuity and balance. Jumping rope, dot drills, cone slaloming, lateral sliding and trampoline exercises are all plyometric exercises that will improve your overall conditioning. Power Systems (power-systems.com) offers both plyometric equipment and drills.
Combining plyometric exercises and core conditioning with a comprehensive strength, aerobic and flexibility program will greatly improve your physical condition as you venture outside this winter. The product will be a more enjoyable and injury-free experience.
If the above is too cumbersome, you can still enjoy our high-altitude winter by booking a sleigh ride at the M Lazy C Ranch in Lake George (mlazyc.com). There may be no physical health benefits to taking a sleigh ride in our winter wonderland but it sure can do wonders for your soul.
Cord Prettyman is a certified Master Personal Trainer and owner of Absolute Workout Fitness and Post-Rehab Studio in Woodland Park. He can be reached at 687-7437, email@example.com. Visit cordprettyman.com for more information.