A snowrider requires not only flexibility and strength for cranking powerful turns but also muscular endurance to maintain stamina for all-day sessions. In creating an effective endurance program of cardiovascular activities, four elements are critical:
- Frequency: The number of times the endurance exercise is performed in a particular period of time.
- Duration: The length of time it takes to perform the exercise.
- Intensity: The effort level reached during the exercise.
- Type: The choice of exercise performed in a workout.
Increasing or upgrading any of these elements will increase the demands placed on your body as it works to develop the cardiovascular fitness essential to endurance.
This chapter concentrates on cardiovascular exercises that either are specific to snowriding (such as skateboarding, using the slide-board, surfing, and performing gymnastic maneuvers on a trampoline) or can serve as cross-training activities (such as running cycling, rope jumping, and snowshoeing).
It is helpful at this point to understand the overload principle – the general idea that overloading or exhausting muscles carefully and systematically can produce physiological changes that make the muscles stronger and more durable. For example, a person snowboarding for the first time quickly becomes exhausted – not to mention badly bruised. But with a program of progressively tougher workouts, that individual should grow stronger as his or her muscles are taxed to a higher and higher point of fatigue. This principle will come into play as you develop a program of increasingly rigorous endurance activities
The photos and descriptions that follow will familiarize you with various endurance drills and exercises. You can refer back to them as you progress in your personal training program. See Chapter 7 for detailed programs that include these exercises and offer recommendations on duration and intensity of the workouts.
Skateboarding is one of the best ways to snowboard when there is no snow. Skateboarding and snowboarding are almost identical in their movements; it’s just that the asphalt tends to hurt a little more than snow when you wipe out. Be sure to wear protective equipment (helmet, wrist guards, elbow pads) even if your friends point and laugh. The last thing you need is a road rash just before the first snowfall. Skate parks – which are becoming more common across the country, provide the perfect traffic-free environment to keep your board skills honed. Also, a long downhill stretch of road without cross streets could be the perfect place to practice carving. Avoid high-traffic areas! Cars tend to win head-on collisions.
Obviously, if you don’t live where there are waves, you are out of luck. But if you live near the coast and haven’t yet tried surfing, consider taking a few lessons. The movement is similar to snowboarding, but how you distribute your weight is different. As on the slopes, surfing has rules of etiquette that need to be honored for you safety as well as others’. Also, certain surf spots considered “black diamonds” should not be surfed by beginners. Go to your local surf shop and ask the staff about the best places to learn.
Using a slide-board is great conditioning for skiing, skating, and snowboarding. Whereas most other endurance exercises move in a forward and backward linear pattern and involve very little lateral (sideways) movement, using a slide-board works the muscles responsible for lateral movement – the same muscles that keep the body stable and balanced for snowboarding. Slide-boards with adjustable stoppers at the ends are recommended because they allow you to increase the distance as you become more familiar with the movement.
Start by placing the cloth slippers or booties that come with the board on your shoes. This allows you to slide with the least amount of friction. To help avoid falling, when approaching the slide-board place one foot on the stopper before placing the other foot on the slide. Brace the outer edge of the foot that is on the stopper against the stopper’s edge, giving the foot a place to push off from. As the foot pushes off the stopper, the other foot, which is on the slide, will kick out sideways toward the opposite stopper. The arms will also swing in that direction, sending the body across the slide-board, and landing on the opposite stopper. Be sure to brace the foot against the stopper when repeating the movement to return to the starting side. Continue this side-to-side motion for the designated amount of time. Stop if your pulse exceeds your target heart rate, and continue only after it returns to the target zone. For lower body intensity, clasp your hands behind your back while sliding.
If you are looking to step up your sill level with some aerials or a half-pipe routine, using a trampoline is essential. For safety and proper instruction, visit your local gymnastics center and take a class. After you have mastered the basics of jumping, add a bounce board to your workout. Similar in size and shape to a snowboard, a bounce board is designed to be word while practicing on a trampoline. Proceed with extreme caution.
Walking and Running
Whether you walk or run doesn’t really matter, either way, you’ll reach the same destination eventually. Both are good choice s as part of an endurance training routine.
Whichever you choose, stand as tall as possible. Keep your head over your shoulders, with your chest up and your hips tucked under. Let you arms swing freely forward and backward, and keep your feet pointing straight ahead. Start with 20 minutes and build from there.
Cross-training with stair-climbing machines at a health club can provide a good workout. But if there is a long flight of stairs in your neighborhood – preferably mad of wood rather than unforgiving concrete – try going up and down those for an endurance workout.
When climbing stairs, maintain the same form as when running or walking: stand tall, with your chest up and your hips tucked under. Walk slowly on the way down to allow your body and heart rate to recover. We will return to the stairs in Chapter 6, Plyometric Training, for other exercises of a more explosive nature.
Jumping rope is a great overall conditioning exercise that promotes endurance in the upper and lower body and the trunk. Many varieties of jump ropes are available: cotton, nylon, rawhide, sold rubber, and ones with heavy handles. I prefer solid rubber jump ropes because the centrifugal force of the heavier rubber makes the wrists, forearms and upper arms work harder the faster you jump – a definite plus for skiing and snowboarding. Be sure to choose a proper jumping surface – such as grass, sand, or a wooden floor – to reduce the impact on your knees, ankles, and lower back. Never jump rope on concrete, cement, metal, or asphalt. These surfaces are unforgiving and will increase the chance of injury.
Start with jumping intervals of 15-30 seconds, with rest periods of 30-45 seconds. Build slowly over several weeks until you can jump uninterrupted for 15-20 minutes or more. B e sure to stretch your calf muscles well after each session.
Drafting Runs and Cycling
Most moving objects create a draft, pulling energy toward the back of the object from behind. The field of energy behind the front object allows the objects following it so use less effort while maintaining the same velocity. Using this technique allows the person in the back to recuperate until it is his or her turn to take the lead (picture migrating geese).
If you run or cycle in a group, you can use this technique. Form a straight line and take off. The last person must overtake the leader. Continue this process off catch-the-leader until the desired time or distance is reached or until everyone has been in the lead.
For safety reasons, choose a route with little or no traffic. It may be a good idea to run or cycle on a track or in a park or forest.
Swimming is a great cross-training exercise. It takes pressure off the back and forces the upper body to work just as hard as the lower body, unlike cycling or stair climbing. Consider taking a few lessons at your local swim center if you’re unfamiliar with proper form.
Indoor rowing machines such as those used at commercial gyms provide a great full-body workout and a terrific cross-training exercise. Be sure to maintain good seated posture at all times. Use the legs as much as possible, because they have the body’s biggest muscles. Exhale when pulling the handle inward.