10 Exercises for Winter Sports: Increase Strength & Reduce Injury

As we are gearing up for the winter months, I know all of you winter sports fans are highly anticipating hitting the slopes.  I tried snowboarding for the first time last winter and I am definitely anxious to get out there this year to improve my skills.

While winter sports are great fun, you definitely don’t want to underestimate the workout they provide.  In fact, if you’re not fully prepared physically for the season you could be at a high risk for injury.  I have some great exercises for winter sports for you to help improve overall strength and stability of your legs & core in all planes of motion as well as strengthen all of the little stabilizer muscles that insure your joints (knees, ankles and hips) are ready for action!  Get started now, that way you are strong and ready to hit the powder come snowy season!

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1. Wall Sit

Step 1:  Stand in front of a wall and lean against it.

Step 2:  Slide your back down the wall until you come into a squat position and your legs are at a 90 degree angle and hold that position.  Make sure that your abs are fully engaged and your low back is pressed up against the wall (there should be no space between your back and the wall).  Hold this position for as long as you can (20 sec – 3 min) depending on your fitness level.  Each time you do this exercise, try and beat your previous time.

2. Speed Skaters

Step 1:  Stand with feet hip-width apart with arms by your side.

Step 2:  Hop to the right, land on your right foot and sweep the left foot diagonally behind right leg while swinging your arms to the right.  Repeat on the opposite side to complete one repetition.

3. Side-to-Side Plank

Step 1:  Get into a standard hand-plank position.  Make sure your hands are placed directly underneath your shoulders, your core is engaged and your body is nice and flat.

Step 2:  Lift up your left arm and open up your whole body to the left side and come into a side plank on your right hand.  As your feet fall to the side let your right toe touch your left heel.

Step 3:  Bring the left hand down and rotate your body back to a plank on both hands.  Repeat on the right side for one repetition.  When you rotate into the plank on the right side, your feet will rotate over and your left toe will touch your right heel.

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4. Curtsy Lunge

Step 1:  Stand up nice and tall with your feet hip-width apart with your hands on your hips.

Step 2:  Take a big step with your right foot back and diagonally behind the left leg.  Bend both legs (as if you are curtsying) and then return back to start.  Repeat with the left leg for one repetition.

5. Snowboarders

Step 1:  Stand up nice and tall with your feet shoulder-width apart (or a little bit wider) with your hands by your side.

Step 2:  Lower down into a loaded squat position (you can bring your hands in front of your body for stabilization and more power for the movement).

Step 3:  Spring up and explode into the air and make a 180 degree turn to the right and land back into that loaded squat position.  Repeat motion to the left (don’t want to get dizzy).

6. Floor Bridge

Step 1:  Lay down on your back, knees bent, feet flat, hands by your side with palms facing down.  Engage your abs and press your low back down into the mat to avoid a low back arch.

Step 2:  While maintaining that position with the body, drive through the heels and lift your hips up off the ground, squeezing the gluteal muscles (butt) and hamstrings.  Lower back to the mat to finish one repetition. 

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7. Single Leg Balance & Bend

Step 1:  Balance on your right foot with your hands on your hips.  Maintain a slight bend in the right knee, engage your core and balance.

Step 2:  Once you feel stabilized, keep your core tight and continue to bend the right knee to go deeper into this balanced movement.  Push through the heel, engage the gluteal muscles and straighten the right leg all the way back to start to complete one repetition.  Complete all repetitions on one side, balancing throughout, before switching to the other leg.

8. Single Leg Hop (front-back & side-to-side)

Step 1:  Balance on your right foot with your hands on your hips.  Maintain a slight bend in the right knee, engage your core and balance.

Step 2:  Once you feel stabilized, keep your core tight and hop front-back-right-left to complete one repetition.  Complete all repetitions on one side before switching to the other leg.

9. Single-Leg Wood Chopper (hand weight or medicine ball can be used for this exercise)

Step 1:  Balance on your right foot.  Maintain a slight bend in the right knee, engage your core and balance.  Hold your hand weight or medicine ball in front of you in a comfortable position in order to get your balance.  (If you choose not to use a weight, you can bring the palms of your hands together.)

Step 2:  Pretend that there is a big square in front of your body.  While keeping your arms straight, draw a line from the top right corner to the bottom left corner to create the chopping motion & complete one repetition.  Finish all repetitions on the right leg before you switch to the left.  When on the left leg you are going to chop from the top left corner to the bottom right.

Runtastic Lunden10. Pivot Lunge

Step 1:  Stand up nice and tall with your feet shoulder-width apart (or a little bit wider), toes facing forward, hands on your hips.

Step 2:  Pivot your feet all the way to the right & lower down into a lunge.

Step 3:  Drive through your front heel & come out of the lunge as you come back to the starting position.  Do the same thing on the left side to complete one repetition.

You might be wondering how many repetitions of these exercises you should do, right?  I recommend you aim for 10-30 repetitions of each exercise for 1-3 sets depending on your fitness level.  This is not a contest, this is about getting your muscles activated and ready for snowboard & skiing in order to have fun without getting injured.  Don’t have time to do all 10 exercises at once?  Incorporate 3-6 of these exercises each time you are training your legs to give you some variation.  You can even use weights for these exercises (including the wall sit) to challenge yourself a bit further.  I wish you all a strong, safe & splendid winter sports season!

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Lunden Souza Lunden is a Certified Personal Trainer and Fitness Coach. She inspires sports enthusiasts around the world with her fitness & nutrition tips and workouts on YouTube. View all posts by Lunden Souza »

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