Strength, Balance, and Core Training

Fit to Ski

Strength Training

Because skiing and snowboarding often require bursts of speed, strength training is a powerful component in your conditioning program.  As mentioned earlier, strength training consists of relatively short bursts of muscular force that last anywhere between 1 second and 2 minutes.  This type of training builds size and strength in the muscles and conditions them to store more energy for immediate use.

However, after only 20 or 30 seconds of such activity, the source of immediate energy is exhausted and the muscles (and your liver) must release a form of sugar that is broken down to create even more energy.  Strength training conditions the body to store more of this sugar for future needs.  The chemical reaction not only allows the muscles to continue generating force but (unfortunately) also creates acid and hydrogen ions, which create a burning sensation in the muscles as they accumulate.  This burning may cause you to stop your activity earlier than you intended.  Strength training increases your tolerance so you can get past the burn, allowing you to carve harder and more powerfully.

Balance Training

Balance training enhance strength and coordination in the smaller stabilizing muscles of the body, enhances kinesthetic awareness (the mind’s awareness of where the body is in space), and improves the body’s sense of balance.  Be sure to master executing the traditional strength training exercise with the proper form and control before advancing to performing the same exercise on the balance apparatus.

Core Training

Core training involves strength exercises that focus on the muscles of the trunk (the abdominals, obliques, lower back muscles, and so forth).  Most exercises will incorporate flexing, extending, rotating, or side bending the spine, or a combination of movements performed in conjunction with upper and lower body motion.  The purpose of core training is to strengthen the muscles that protect the back while at the same time allowing force to transfer from the center of the body down through the legs and up through the arms with the least amount of restriction.

Benefits

Other benefits of strength, balance, and core training include:

  • Increased energy levels.
  • Reduced injury potential.
  • Increased bone density.
  • Increased boy circulation.
  • Heightened body awareness.

Elements of Strength Triaining Program

When performing these exercises, remember the five Rs, which are important elements of every strength program.

  1. Resistance:  The amount of weight or other resistance used during an exercise.  Whatever the amount of resistance chosen, it’s essential to maintain proper form while performing an exercise.
  2. Repetitions:  The number of times a movement is performed during a set of an exercise.  Typically the lower the number of repetitions (with high resistance), the more basic strength is trained, the higher the number of repetitions (with low resistance), the more muscular endurance is trained.
  3. Range of motion:  The movement a muscle is responsible for.  Ideally, it is best to train the muscle’s fullest range of motion.
  4. Rest:  The amount of time resting between each set of exercises.  An ideal rest period is between 30 seconds and 2 minutes, but the rest period may increase with greater intensity of exercise.
  5. Recovery:  The amount of time spent between strength training workouts of the same muscle group.  It is often recommended that you allow 48 hours after strength training one muscle group before exercising that same muscle group again, though this is not an ironclad rule.  If you find that you are strength training the same muscle groups two days in a row, consider changing the selection of exercises for the second day (for example, when exercising the abdominals, perform leg lifts on Monday and full sit-ups on Tuesday).

When training for strength, try to achieve temporary muscle fatigue in one set of each exercise.  Temporary muscle fatigue occurs when the muscles are so exhausted that you cannot perform another repetition with proper technique.

It is important to maintain proper technique from start to finish in a set.  It’s equally important to have someone act as a spotter for safety when you perform exercises with weights that are suspended over your body.

Exhale during the exertion phase of each exercise (for example, as you stand upward during a squat.).  If you experience dizziness or pain during an exercise, stop immediately and omit that exercise from your workout for the time being.

In selecting your strength workout program, choose a range of exercises that incorporate all the major muscle groups.  If you intend to perform strength workouts more than three or four times per wek, it may be better to focus on the upper body on one day and the lower body on a different day.

A word about weights:  Use an amount of weight that allows you to properly perform a set of no fewer than 8 repetitions and no more than 15.  If you are able to perform more than 15 repetitions, increase the weight; if you cannot do 8, consider decreasing the weight.  This is not to imply that performing fewer than 8 repetitions or more than 15 is wrong.  It is just a general range that is safe for most people.

Designing a Workout

The exercises in this chapter provide details on how to perform them correctly, and you can refer back to these descriptions as you get into you training program.  Some of the exercises also illustrate three approaches – beginning, intermediate, and advance – to enhance program variety.  Start with the beginning stage, and progress to the intermediate and advanced stages only after you can maintain proper form and body control throughout the entire exercise.

The exercises are divided into three categories:  upper body, lower  body, and torso (core).  Each description lists the muscles involved in the exercise, and these muscles are shown in the Muscle Chart in Appendix 4.

The workout programs in Chapter 7 suggest typical schedules and provide the appropriate number of sets and repetitions for these exercises.

Some of the following exercises require a workout facility with ample equipment and space to execute the drills safely, but other exercises can be performed at home.  Therefore, even if you do not belong to a gym, you can still create an effective program of strength training.

Most of the exercises have variations, which can be explained by gym staff trainers or others familiar with the routines.