Winter snow will be here before you know it!  Whether you snowshoe, ski, board or sled, you need to get your body prepared to be on that slippery, unstable surface.
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Try these five exercises to get you fit for snow!  The only thing you need to start with is your own bodyweight and a mat.  Start with the easiest versions of each exercise and progress as you are successful.  Successful means you can keep abdominals contracted, chest open, and shoulders retracted and depressed throughout each exercise. (Consult your physician before starting any new exercise program.)
1.  Four Square Hops with Stabilization
Targets heart rate, thighs, glutes, core, and stabilizing muscles of the ankle, knee and hip.
  • Stand with your feet hip width.
  • Take a mini hop forward and land as soft as possible.  Stick the landing and hold position 2-3 seconds.
  • Hop sideways and again, stick the landing for a 2-3 second hold.
  • Hop backwards with a hold.
  • Hop sideways to the starting position (making the shape of a square).
  • Always keep a slight bend in your knees.
  • Your focus is on the soft and quiet landing between each hop; don’t let your knees wobble side to side.
  • Make your square hops bigger as you are successful, then progress to one legged hops.
  • Perform hops one minute clockwise and 1 minute counterclockwise (30 seconds for 1 legged hops).
  • If you can’t hop: perform a calf raise by standing on your toes and “drop” your heels.  Absorb the shock by keeping your knees soft.  Hold the low position for 2-3 seconds before repeating the calf raise.

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2.  One Legged Squats
Targets thighs, glutes and stabilizing muscles of the ankle, knee and hip.
  • Stand with all your weight on your right foot.
  • First perform a modified squat with your left toe touching the ground by bringing your hips back only a quarter of the way down.  When ready to progress, only lift your left foot up a couple inches off the floor to keep your hips in a neutral position.
  • Don’t round your back.
  • Don’t stay in a forward lean position; stand up straight to get the full extension of the hip (to strengthen your glute).
  • Perform 30 seconds on each leg and increase time and weight as successful.

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3.  Three Point Plank
Targets core.
  • Start the 3 point plank from the knees first (beginner level).
  • Extend one arm out to the side while your shoulders and hips stay parallel to the floor.
  • Hold arm out five seconds; alternate arms.
  • If you feel ready to take it to the toes (intermediate level), start with your feet in a wider position for more stability.
  • As you are successful with this exercise, increase the range of motion by rotating through your torso and opening your chest more.
  • The stable shoulder needs to stay down away from your ear – no shrugging.
  • Alternate arms for 30-60 seconds.

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4.  Airplane with Twist
Targets core.
  • Lay on your back and extend your arms out to the side and your legs straight.
  • Exhale as you lift your left leg as high as possible while reaching across with your right arm.
  • Focus on pulling in your belly button towards your spine.
  • The twist comes from the torso, not the neck.
  • Hold position two-three seconds before lowering back down; alternate sides.
  • To make this exercise easier, bend your knees.
  • If you can perform this exercise for two minutes with great control and form, then try the extreme challenge – start with both legs hovering three inches off the ground.  You lower back needs to stay pressed down to the mat.

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5.  Bridge with Alternating Knee Extension
Targets glutes and core.
  • Lie on your back with your knees bent and arms out in an “A” position.
  • Actively press your arms  down into the ground.
  • Raise your hips up by squeezing your glutes.
  • Keep your spine straight and hips lifted.
  • Straighten one knee; hold leg straight for 5 seconds.
  • Alternate legs for 30 – 60 seconds.

Do these exercises three times per week to build the strength and stability needed for your snow activities and it will also help reduce your risk of injuries and muscle fatigue! And don’t forget to stretch before and after every workout.

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