Tag: Crystal Mountain

Improve Your Skiing and Snowboarding with Pilates

It’s ski season—ah…the pure joy of skiing down a mountainside of sparkling powder, surrounded by tall evergreens and brilliant blue sky……

Then, after that first day of tackling moguls, dodging trees and other skiers; the fatigue and soreness of the legs and hips kick in. This is partly because of muscle overuse and lack of core strength. If the core is not working enough, your legs and hips have to work harder to stabilize you.

Pilates will stretch tight, overused leg muscles, such as the quads and hip flexors and strengthen underused muscles such as the hamstrings and inner thighs.

Skiers rely on side-to-side hip movement to recruit the inside and outside edge of the ski. Boarders tilt their hips forward and back to access the front and back edge of the board and use a more rotational movement to change directions. A strong core gives you better edge control. Edge control improves balance as you navigate the twists and turns of the slope –at high speeds-, the ever-changing snow conditions and the ability to get up unscathed when you take a tumble.

By practicing Pilates, core strength and alignment improves and you become more in tune with your body. Movements are fluid, there is less wear and tear on joints and your sport becomes more enjoyable. You’ll find yourself adapting better to changing snow conditions, challenging terrain, and falling less.

Here are some mat exercises you could start today:

  1. The Hundred – core, arms, hip stabilizer
  2. The Abdominal Series
  3. The Side Lying Leg Kick Series

Nothing will improve your skiing faster than a strong core. Cross-train by adding a Pilates mat class to your fitness regime or perhaps a private session with your Pilates Instructor.

Stay strong, ski safe!

Rock-solid on the ski slopes

Every ski season brings the opportunity to be better than the last. If you continually tell your self you will get into ski condition but wait till the season actually starts you will end up in the same rut as last year, and not finishing out the whole ski season. If you give your self enough time, and with a proper foundation in fitness, you can make this ski season one of your best and longest.

The first step to ramping up your fitness starts with a solid strength training program. The first six weeks of a strength training program should be spent building a foundation. Start light and focus on proper form. Lift twice per week, with 48 hours of rest in between each session. To see significant results, put in and hour per session, in which you do two sets of 12-15 repetitions each, resting only 30-45 seconds between each set.

Because skiing is a whole-body sport, you’ll want to do whole-body strength workouts. Thinking of your body as a series of components simplifies planning a workout. Target the following muscle groups: Legs (ankles, calves, quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes), torso ( chest, back, and abdominals), and arms ( biceps, triceps, and shoulders).

Also keep in mind that muscles don’t work independently. Each muscle group has an opposing group and can only lengthen when the other one contracts, so it’s important to develop both equally. For example, the quadriceps extends the leg (straighten the knee), while the hamstrings flex it (bend the knee). If only one group is strengthened, the imbalance can lead to injury.

After six weeks, crank the workouts up a notch. Try to do three sets instead of two, start lifting to failure (the point where you can’t lift any more) and incorporate eccentric lifting. Each weight lifting move has two parts: the concentric (lifting and shortening) part of the motion and the eccentric (releasing and lengthening) component. In an eccentric move, you add 10 pounds to the maximum weight you can do 15 reps. A training partner helps you lift the weight, and then you slowly lower – or resist – it on your own. This method helps simulate the forces your body has to deal with while skiing. As you ski your body is resisting forces during turns and bumps more than it is trying to produce force. So when you put on a huge amount of weight that you can’t push, that you just have to resist, it trains the muscles and allows you to be so much more efficient that you don’t get tired.

After 10 weeks of lifting , add ski specific exercises that demand not only strength, but balance and quick reflexes, too. Plyometric jumping exercises and training on unstable surfaces are often added in to workout routines twice a week with two days of rest between sessions to ramp up your intensity. Plyometrics will make you quicker, more balanced and lighter on your feet. Plyos include any exercise, from jumping rope to tossing a medicine ball, in which a muscle is contracted eccentrically and then immediately contracted concentrically. To picture it, think of the muscle as a rubber band that is stretched and then released. The faster you can switch from a stretch to a release, the greater your explosive power and the better your reaction time on the hill. This would also be the time to add in unstable surfaces such as bosu balls or gymballs to increase activation of stabilizing muscles. Most strength workouts are done on a firm surface, giving the stabilizing muscles a break but if you move your workout to exercise balls or unstable balancing surfaces this will force the smaller muscle to work during your workouts similar to the demands of skiing. Plyos will make sure you are not fazed by powder, crud or anything else mother nature throws at you.

With the ski season right around the corner it is time to get started with your conditioning program. The Seattle Athletic Club offers a ski conditioning class right now on Mondays at 6 pm with Joel Mitchell (jmitchell@sacdt.com) or for more information on sports training please feel free to contact any of the training staff at the Seattle Athletic Club to help get the best out of your next season of skiing.

Hiking Tips and Tricks for Your Body

After a long, cold, dreary winter, hiking season is finally here! Hopefully you spent the dark months strengthening your legs, back and core for the miles of terrain you will be covering this summer. If not, here are a few tips and tricks to get you through the pain and allow you to enjoy the beautiful scenery that you will no doubt be looking for. Whether you are a veteran hiker or bran new to the sport, these tips will help you make it to the top!

When You Feel the Burn
Anyone who has ever hiked will tell you that the quadriceps muscles start to burn pretty quickly. Most hikers spend their off time strengthening their quads, doing tons and tons of stairs and general walking up hill.

TIP #1 – Strengthen your hamstrings and hips as well not just the quads!! The legs work together, meaning that when your quad is pressing you up, the hamstrings are slowing you down so you don’t go too far. The hips are equally important and help with balance when you step on a rock or a root or slip on snow. Try this exercise to help strengthen the low back, hips, and hamstrings!

Hamstring Curl on Ball

If you are looking for more of a challenge lift your arms off the ground. This will make you more unstable and will activate the core muscles more.

When the Hunger Sets In
On average, hiking burns roughly 500 calories an hour. The body is going to tapping out the energy stores throughout the course of the hike. These energy stores need to be replaced to maintain the activity level.

TIP #2 – Bring plenty of snacks AND water on your hike. DO NOT assume that there will be water on the trail. A blend of fats (preferably nuts), carbohydrates (dried fruit, a Clif bar) and protein (beef jerky, nuts) will help sustain the body during the hike and will help prevent hunger. Take time to stop and enjoy your food and remember the hike will always be there. Breaks aren’t cheating!

Cramps and sore muscles
Hiking is an extremely tough activity; especially on the body. A lot of force and pressure is distributed throughout the body including your joints, ligaments, tendons, and of course muscles. To help prevent cramps, strains or sprains, be sure to stretch sufficiently following the end of a hike.

TIP #3 – The common leg stretches are perfect for the conclusion of a hike. It is a great way to cool down before you jump back in the car to drive home. Make sure you stretch your quads (front of thigh), hamstrings (back of thigh), calf AND soleus (see picture below), and your hip flexors (see picture below).

Common Leg Stretches

  • Feel the stretch through the front of the leg behind you.
  • Make sure you keep your hips even and moving forward.
  • Hold for 15-20 seconds 3 times.

These tips will help to keep you out of danger and help prevent you from getting injured while out on the trail. Proper planning is always needed when attempting any hike. Of course, be sure to tell at least 2 people where you will be and what time you expect to return. By being physically and mentally prepared you are sure to have an amazing hiking season! Hope to see you on the trails this summer!

“I went on all four of SAC’s May hikes and loved it! I’ve hiked with groups before and because I’m not a particularly fast hiker, was left behind. Doesn’t happen with this club. All levels of hikers are accommodated with someone from SAC going with the faster hikers and someone staying with the slower hikers. The members of the Hikers Club I have hiked with so far are friendly and we all work together to get to the top and back to the bottom. I definitely will continue to hike with this group and feel I’ve made new friends!” Cheryl