It can be cold and snowy outside, but there’s no better time to indulge in backcountry winter sports, especially if you’re looking to get in shape during the cold months.
Snowboarding, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing (among other winter sports) are not only fantastic ways to stay physically active during the colder months, but they also allow you to explore beautiful snowy parts of the country that you may not have visited. other.
If you’ve never participated in winter sports, the names alone can make you feel a little intimidated. After all, there’s the gear and gear you don’t know about, and getting out in the snow might not be your thing.
However, before the pandemic, the backcountry was the fastest growing segment of the snow sports industry, and for good reason. They provide a powerful, full-body workout during the months when you tend to be less active, and help prevent symptoms of SAD, a seasonal depression that many treat as days get shorter and activity levels drop. .
Here, Kelly Jensen, manager of The Alpineer in Crested Butte (part of the Christy Sports store brand) shows us more closely the benefits of winter sports and the impact they have on the body and mind of the many participants.
How to get involved in winter sports
You might think you have to be in top shape to try your hand at winter sports, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. However, they might just get you in the best shape of your life.
“You don’t necessarily need to be in peak physical condition to get into backcountry skiing or horseback riding,” says Jensen. And luckily, there are accessible routes for all fitness levels to get into the sport.
Jensen recommends setting realistic goals, starting to train, and even finding a mentor who has experience in the sport you’re trying. And remember to start slow, says Jensen. jensen.
Apply the same measures as when you first hit the gym: go slow, take your time, warm up, cool down, and listen to your body.
The Benefits of Winter Sports in the Backcountry
- The body: The physical benefits should be obvious. You’ll get plenty of exercise, and during the winter when most of us stay indoors a bit more than we like, that can be a huge added bonus. “The great thing about backcountry winter sports is that you can go fast or slow, heavy or light, stay close to home or go far; while getting an amazing workout that is also very engaging,” Jensen says. Much better than being locked inside all winter.
With many winter sports, you’ll get a full body workout and possibly engage muscle groups you haven’t had in a while (even if you’re a lifelong enthusiast); perfect for building strength and blasting through winter plateaus.
- The mind: The mental effects of backcountry sports, on the other hand, are where they really shine according to Jensen. “It’s an exercise for the mind as well as the body,” says Jensen.
Traveling through avalanche terrain takes preparation and focus, which means you’re constantly learning and seeing new scenarios in backcountry sports. Not to mention being outside looking at the beautiful scenery and breathing in the fresh crisp air.
“Navigation, snow science, group dynamics, gear preparation and weather monitoring are all great mental challenges,” says Jensen.
On a more holistic level, “backcountry skiing is very rejuvenating,” says Jensen. “It reshuffles the cards mentally.”
You know how good you feel after a workout, so imagine in the dead of winter, getting outside, exercising while surrounded by nature; this is where mental health gets a much-needed boost! Goodbye, SAD!
How to prepare your body for winter sports
“There are many ways to physically prepare for backcountry sports, so don’t dwell on any one of them too much,” says Jensen. If you don’t have access to a gym (like Jensen), “choose an at-home program and start by looking for one of the myriad leg blaster body-weighted workouts.” He says, focusing on exercise moves like overhead squats, jumping lunges and squat jumps.
“Feel free to add a weighted vest if these moves start to feel too easy,” says Jensen.
Winter sports like skiing and snowboarding are very leg- and core-focused sports. “Focus on strength training there,” adds Jensen. “Balance is also a key part of gliding on snow and it should not be ignored.”
To help strengthen these areas, “add a Bosu ball along with lunges, squats, and single-leg balancing exercises. “It will help with proprioception and general motor skills,” he says.
“Balance is often overlooked but essential as it can significantly reduce your reaction times to changing snow or light conditions and potentially reduce your risk of injury.” Jensen explains.
With that, here’s a great workout shared by MTNtatical.com. that will help strengthen your body for backcountry winter sports.
Important safety tips to keep in mind
“Avalanche safety is the first place to start when getting into backcountry sports.” recommend Jensen. Before you do anything, take an avalanche course, it can’t be overemphasized.
“Even if you don’t plan to venture into avalanche terrain for a long time, you still need to know how to identify it so you don’t accidentally find yourself in it or under it.” He says.
For others who don’t want to venture into the backcountry but do have equipment, “check and see if your local ski resort has an uphill policy,” says Jensen. “A ski area can be a great way to learn some climbing skills and understand your gear in a safe and fun environment.” He explains.
It’s especially useful if you’re primarily looking for the exercise component of backcountry skiing and riding.
With that, winter time doesn’t have to be a slowdown season, unless you want it to. Stay fit (or get fit) with backcountry winter sports. You might find a new hobby that will improve your mental health and physical condition.
Winter sports training in the backcountry
If you’re planning to hit the slopes, snowy trails, or ice for the first time, this workout will help get your muscles moving in all the right directions. mimicking some backcountry winter sports moves.
Leg Blaster Winter Sports Training:
- 20x overhead squats
- 20x standing lunges (10x each leg)
- 20x jump lunges (10x each leg)
- 10 squat jumps
“Mini Leg Blaster”
- 10x overhead squats
- 10x standing lunges (5x each leg)
- 10x jump lunges (5x each leg)
- 5x squat jumps