The last thing we might be thinking about during our summer vacation is being ready for our winter one, and by this, we mean being fit enough for some good ski or snowboarding sessions. But did you know there are plenty of sports you can practice under the summer sun in order to keep you ready to hit the slopes as soon as possible? Wherever you are spending your summer vacation, there are plenty of sports you can do which are perfect for keeping you “slope ready”.
What muscles should you be looking to work on? Even if skiing or snowboarding is really a full-body workout, some muscles are used more than others and the more those muscles are trained, the less prone to injury you’ll be and you’ll even have more resistance to handle full days out on the mountains. The main muscles used for skiing are your abs & core, gluteus maximus (butt), quadriceps (front thighs), and hamstrings, and the best thing is, you won’t have to be cooped up in a gym, or indoors to get that workout in. You can enjoy the nice sunny warm weather and still get in a good, fun workout by practicing these four summer sports keeping you in shape for the mountains.
Paddleboarding has gained immense popularity over the past few years not only because it’s a great workout, but it’s also so much fun. On a paddleboard you get to explore the area around you, you stay fresh, and get a tan all in one. The primary muscle group paddleboarding will exercise is your abs and core since it takes great core strength to maintain your balance on the board and as you are paddling you will also be working on your oblique muscles, and arms. Your legs are also engaged constantly, they help maintain the balance especially if you are paddleboarding while standing up, and if you decide to paddleboard on your knees then get ready to feel the burn on your quadriceps too.
So, what makes paddle boarding such a good sport to keep you in shape for winter? Well, when you’re out on skis or on a board, balance is essential and a strong core and legs will ensure that you are able to stay upright making it less likely to fall. As a plus, it’s always good to have strong arms too, you never know when you’ll need to push yourself along on a flat slope – especially important if the slope is leading to your favourite coffee stop!
If you think about free skate cross-country skiing, then it’s really obvious why rollerblading is such a good sport to keep you in shape for winter. If you’re not really sure what I’m talking about then make sure to read our cross-country skiing guide to have a better understanding. The outwards movement of the legs is exactly the same in both sports, rollerblading really works your quadriceps and hamstrings which, as we said earlier, are essential muscles for skiing and also snowboarding.
Snowboarders are rarely standing fully upright which means they really need to have strong quadriceps since they are basically holding a half bend all day, and skiers are in a constant bend and extension of their hamstrings in order to soften landings and protect the knees. This is why rollerblading is the perfect exercise, as it will get you ready for not only skiing and snowboarding but also for some fun cross-country skiing sessions in case you want to switch sports one afternoon. Rollerblading is also a great way to get around during the summer and it’s fun to go out with friends, maybe you’ll even learn a trick or two.
An all-time summer favourite is beach volleyball, you get to meet people, have fun, and actually have a great workout without even realising it. Beach volley is a full-body workout that focuses especially on the same muscle groups we use when skiing and snowboarding. First of all, the legs, where do we even start? You are running in the sand, you are squatting, jumping, and lunging, at one point or another you will use every single muscle in your legs during a volley game. These leg movements go hand in hand with both skiing and snowboarding because during both sports you are in fact engaging all of your leg muscles at one point or another.
Beach volley also works a lot on your back muscles, having to crouch to get the ball, or exert resistance when jumping and to block a smash, these movements develop your back muscles which are crucial in keeping your column protected and avoiding injury by keeping you upright and making sure you have the correct posture when skiing.
A really annoying thing that can happen when you're out on the mountains, especially towards the end of a long and hard ski day is your muscles cramping up. If you are not used to physical exercise or working out those specific muscles, then it wouldn’t be so uncommon for some cramps to happen, but practicing yoga can really help you prevent this. Even though these two sports are the complete opposite when you think about them, yoga works on elongating and stretching muscles, the same muscles that you continuously stretch and contract when skiing, so it’s preparing the muscle for the work it will be doing.
Practicing yoga during off-season will keep you ready for the mountains, have you ever seen those amazing yoga poses? That’s all core strength and balance right there, and as you know pretty well by now, these are essential to have if you’re planning a vacation on skis or boards. As a plus, a quick 10-minute yoga session before starting your day can be the perfect warm-up for a day on the slopes and an excellent cool down after a long day of skiing or snowboarding. Stretching your muscles is the number one thing to do before and after any activity.
Winter is not as far as it looks and it’s time to start thinking about your ski vacations if you’re not doing it already. Keep these sports in mind when you’re at the beach or looking for a fun way to stay fit, get some sun, and stay ready for the winter season. If you already know where you’ll be skiing this winter, then make sure you book your independent instructor now since it is going to be a busy one.
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