When it comes to enhancing your winter game, squats are one of the best exercises you can perform. Squats target and condition the quadriceps and hamstring muscles, which control your knee joints and glutes – in other words all of the main muscles you need for snowshoeing or other winter activities. Try these at home using dumbbells in your hands or simply using your own body weight. Proper form is key, which means it’s more effective to go slower to ensure you are achieving optimal positioning.
To do this exercise: With feet shoulder width apart and hands held straight out in front of you for balance, slowly lower your glutes into a mid-air sitting position. Keep your shoulders rolled back and chest pointing upwards. You should aim to lower your glutes so that your knees form 90 degree angles. You can challenge yourself by lowering further as your progress. Remember to do this movement slowly, focusing on form and not speed. Push through the heels to return to standing position and squeeze your glutes as you stand.
Lunges are another key conditioning exercise in your pre-winter season prep, adding an element of balance, which is important in many activities. Lunges target and strengthen your quadriceps and glutes and are also effective in stretching your hip flexors in preparation for a big day on the Mountain.
To do this exercise: Take a large step forward, bending your knees until your rear knee lightly touches the floor. Ensure your front knee is at a 90 degree angle and that your back is completely straight. Note: Your front foot should be directly under your front knee. Slowly return to the starting position and repeat the movement alternating which foot steps forward. You can make lunges more challenging by holding dumbbells for added weight.
Building a strong core, which consists of your abs, obliques and lower back muscles, will help your posture and agility. A strengthened mid-section will actually benefit all aspects of your life, making turning, twisting and bending so much easier. Your core strength also plays an important role during sporting activities, especially when snowshoeing.
To do this exercise: Start in a pushup position, but instead of your hands on the floor, you rest on your forearms. While keeping your back straight (without an arched lower back or raised glutes), hold the position for 20 second intervals, while focusing on keeping your stomach tight. Increase the duration of the holds as you become stronger and challenge yourself by raising one foot each time or alternate between balancing on your forearms and then hands.
Repeat these exercises for 3 sets of 15 to feel the burn in the best possible way!