Time To Get FIT For The SNOW

Tamanawas Falls_SherriIf you’re a winter sports enthusiast, you’re probably starting to get excited by the amount of snow accumulating in the mountains. But that first day back is a real killer and the day after is even worse if you don’t adequately prepare yourself for the physical demands of winter sports. Since most snow sports are so fun, many people forget that they are intense physical activities requiring a certain degree of physical fitness musculo-skeletal strength and endurance, cardiovascular fitness, power, flexibility, balance, coordination and agility.  All the twisting, jumping, and bashing through the bumps can lead to really sore muscles and injuries if your body isn’t ready for it – besides if you’re not fit, you may risk an embarrassing performance! Extreme muscle soreness is caused by a combination of two things: performing an activity you’ve never done before or haven’t done for a while and also the intensity of an activity so that the more intense, the more likely you’ll be stiff. When you combine the two variables, that is you go out hard your first day out, you’re asking for trouble.

Here’s some tips to assure you minimize any aches and pains and potential injuries:

Ease Into It

One way to minimize the effects of muscle soreness is to go easy on your first day. For example, instead of heading out for a full day of skiing, just plan for a half-day and avoid any aggressive runs or jumps until your second or third time out. And of course, always start out easy allowing 6-12 minutes for your body to warm up before you start going hard. So start with the easier green runs to warm up before you start tackling the Black Diamonds. And likewise, slow things down for 6-12 minutes before you stop to allow your body to cool down effectively.

Above and beyond this there are a number of exercises you can perform to prepare the body for the demands of the sport.  Here’s a few favorite exercises for some of the more popular winter sports:

Downhill Skiing

One of the best exercises to prepare you for skiing is Squats: The squat is an excellent exercise for the lower body and will effectively prepare you for the squatting that you’ll do all day on the slopes.

Explosive Squats

Position your feet about hip or shoulder width apart. Keep your knees caps facing forward and your body weight equally distributed on all 4 corners of your feet. Now slowly squat down until your upper thighs are parallel to the floor and then quickly explode upwards jumping into the air. Upon landing be sure to bend your knees to assist in the absorption of impact. If you have access to a BOSU Trainer, try this exercise on top for a more advanced version. Continue for 60 seconds.

Jumps Over The Step….

….is another great exercise to prep you for downhill skiing. Stand on one side of a step or box.  Now slowly jump over the step, side to side for 1 minute.  You can perform one-legged or two-legged jumps or a combination of both.


The most common site of injury for snowboarders is the wrist because unfortunately, the first few times out you sure do a lot of falling.

Power Push Ups…..

….will strengthen your upper body and because of the impact involved, it will also prepare your body for the falls you will most likely experience. Stand facing a wall positioning yourself a few feet back from the wall. Position your hands on the wall a few inches wider than shoulder width apart. Make sure that your elbows are directly in front or to the inside of your wrists. Now slowly push back extending your arms so that hands leave the wall. Let gravity bring you back to the wall and contact it in a controlled fashion. Perform 8-15 repetitions. As you get stronger, you can increase the intensity of this exercise by slowly moving into a floor power push up (knees then toes).


Let’s work on getting your hips strong and increase your ability to effectively move laterally.

Lateral Agility Drill

Position 2 cones or props a few feet apart. Now quickly step laterally to the outside of one cone and back to the outside of the other touching down towards the floor on each end. Try to go as fast as you possibly can. Continue for 60 seconds.

Cross-country Skiing & Snowshoeing

If you can access an indoor ski machine or elliptical a few times a week, this will help keep your muscles fit for the sport.

Walking Lunges….

…..effectively prepare your legs. Start with your feet together. Lunge one leg forward ensuring that the front knee stays over the foot and that the knee-cap always faces forwards. Now slowly push upwards from the front leg, extending it until you are standing on that leg. Repeat lunging forwards with the other leg. Keep your abdominals contracted throughout the entire exercise. Alternate sides and repeat 13-20x each leg.

Core Strength

One of the best things you can do to enhance your athletic performance this winter is to strengthen your core. If your core is strong, that strength will radiate out to your extremities and enable you to perform at a higher level with a lower risk for injury.

Plank 3x/week

Start with a 30 second plank and build to a minute. Lay on your stomach propped up onto your elbows.  Position your elbows so that they are underneath your shoulders. Now lift your body up so your weight is completely supported on your elbows and toes. Keep your abdominals contracted and your back in a neutral position and remember to breathe comfortably.

Yours in health & fitness,
Sherri McMillan

Note:  As an avid Columbian reader, you can redeem a 2 week pass at her world-class training studio to help get you started.  Contact 360.574.7292 for more details. 


Cover Clover Run 2016Join us for the…..COUVE CLOVER RUN – 3, 7 & 10 MILES – March 25th, 2018
Celebrate in your festive green while running or walking 3, 7 or 10 miles along an extremely fast and scenic course to support local charities! We will make you earn your post-event party but it will be off the charts hosted by Main Event and other downtown Vancouver Pubs & Breweries.



Sherri McMillan

Sherri McMillan

Sherri McMillan, holds a master's degree in exercise physiology and has been inspiring the world to adopt a fitness lifestyle for more than 33 years. She has received numerous industry awards including 2010 CanFitPro International Presenter of the Year, 2006 IDEA Fitness Director of the Year, 1998 IDEA Personal Trainer of the Year, 1998 CanFitPro Fitness Presenter of the Year and 2005/2006 ACE Fitness Educator of the Year - Runner up. She is a fitness trainer, fitness columnist for various magazines and newspapers, author of five books and manuals including "Go For Fit - the Winning Way to Fat Loss" and "Fit over Forty" and the featured presenter in various fitness DVDs. She has presented hundreds of workshops to thousands of fitness leaders throughout Canada, Australia, Mexico, Jamaica, New Zealand, Germany, England, Spain, South America, Asia and the U.S. She is the owner of Northwest Personal Training in downtown Vancouver, the founder of WHY Racing Events & WHY Community, participates in various community fundraisers and can be found running, biking, or hiking around the community. Find more information at nwpersonaltraining.com.

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