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Rachel Cosgrove: Get ready to hit the slopes

Results Fitness

Posted: February 4, 2010 10:58 p.m.
Updated: February 5, 2010 4:55 a.m.

If you're aching to return to the slopes this winter, you need to be physically prepared. The workout on these pages will get you ski or snowboard ready in three to six weeks.

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It’s Olympic time again! How exciting to watch the athletes make their dreams come true and get inspired by their stories.

Do you ever watch the Olympics and think ... I wonder if I still got it?

Why wouldn’t you still have it? As you are watching the Olympics this year, use it to get inspired to challenge yourself to get back into something you love. Everybody has an athlete inside of them – you just have to find the sport you love to bring that athlete out.  It is time to make your comeback!

Since it is the Winter Olympics, let’s talk specifically about dusting off your skis or snowboard, and heading up the mountain.

If you are sitting on the couch feeling less than athletic, follow these steps to go from the couch to hitting the slopes:

1. Set a date of when you will head up the mountain before the ski season ends. Pick out a weekend, get a cabin or just head up for the day but set a date on your calendar about 3-6 weeks away.

2. Start making your “comeback” now by working on your base fitness level. Hint: you’ll need to get off the couch. Start with the basics. Don’t make the mistake of thinking a base fitness means to go out and go running. That is the last thing you should do.

You need to first build up the strength and range of motion at each joint by following the program in this article. Perform this program three times a week for 3-6 weeks and you’ll be ready to make your comeback.

3. Fuel your body like an athlete. Start to eat every 3 hours a nutritious meal to fuel your body. This should start with breakfast.

Basic rule – the closer to nature it is, the better. Stick with fruits, veggies, protein such as tuna, chicken, turkey, cottage cheese, nuts and unprocessed starchy carbohydrates including potatoes (not French fries), brown rice and oatmeal.

Now for your exercise routine. Perform this workout, written by Craig Rasmussen, CSCS and coach at Results Fitness, two to three times per week and you’ll be snow ready in no-time.

Warm up

Start with a dynamic warm up – get your body moving incorporating these 5 exercises below.

Inverted hamstring  Perform one set of five on each leg.
Start: Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.

Movement: Step forward, putting your weight on your right leg. As if you were a teeter-totter, balance on your right leg and lift your left leg straight behind you while your torso bends forward to form a straight line from your head through your left leg. Keep your hips square. You should feel a stretch in your right hamstring. Bring your left leg down to the starting position and repeat on the other side.

Inch worms
Perform one set of five reps.

Start: Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.

Movement: Bend at the hips and touch your hands to the floor as close to your feet as possible, feeling a stretch in your hamstrings. Walk your hands one at a time away from your feet and continue walking until you’re in a pushup position.

From there, continue walking your hands even farther, until you’ve walked out as far as you can while keeping your back flat.
The goal is to eventually get your hands well past your head so you are completely stretched out. From here, walk your feet in toward your hands like an inchworm and repeat.

Squat to stand

Perform one set of five reps.

Start: Stand with you feet wide apart and your arms reaching overhead as high as you can.

Movement: Keeping both arms reaching overhead, bend at the hips to touch the floor between your feet, keeping your legs straight to stretch out your hamstrings (the back of your thighs). Keeping your hands on the floor, drop your hips down into a squat position. Staying in a full squat position, reach up with your right arm and then with your left arm, so that you’re in a full squat position with both arms overhead. From here, stand up, return to the starting position, and repeat.

Reverse lunge with a twist and reach  
Perform one set of five on each leg.

Start: Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and your arms at your sides.

Movement: Step back with your right leg and lower yourself into a deep lunge. As you lunge, twist your torso over your left leg to increase the stretch in your right hip flexor. Return to the starting position and repeat with your left leg.

Hip flexor stretch  
Hold the stretch for 30-60 seconds on each leg.

Position: Stand on your left leg with your right foot resting behind you. Bend your left knee to lower yourself into a lunge until your right knee is resting on the floor. Lunge forward, pushing your hips forward and keeping your torso upright. You should feel a stretch in the front of your right hip. To intensify the stretch, turn your body away from your right leg or raise your right arm straight up over your head and lean away from your right leg. Switch legs and repeat.

Then perform what we call corrective exercises to correct the postural imbalances most people have that will otherwise lead to an injury when you get out on the slopes.  

Hip extension on swiss ball
Perform one to two sets of 10 reps
Start: Lie on the floor with your calves on a Swiss ball. Your arms should be out to your sides with your palms facing up.

Movement: Raise your hips until your body forms a straight line from your shoulders to your feet. Slowly lower your hips to the starting position.

Bent-over T’s  
Perform one to two sets of 10 reps.

Start: Bend over at the hips with your knees slightly bent, your back flat, and your arms extended straight out so they form a T with your torso.

Movement: Keeping your arms straight in the T position with your thumbs rotated out to point to the ceiling, pull your shoulder blades toward each other to lift your arms slightly, then return them to the starting position.

Then work the core — a very important part of your base fitness.

Seated russian twist
Perform two sets of 10 reps each way, resting 60 seconds between.

This exercise will get your core ready for swooshing down the slopes.

Start: Sit on the floor with your legs bent 90 degrees and your upper body leaning back slightly. To increase the difficulty, lift your feet off the floor.

Movement: Keeping your torso completely still, rotate from side to side. To make the exercise more difficult, increase the range of motion, the speed, or the amount of weight you’re using.

Then getting specific including some lateral bounds to make sure you are ready to hit the slopes

Lateral bounds  
Perform three sets of three to each side with a 60-90s rest between sets.

Start: Stand on your right leg.

Movement: Push off your right leg to jump to the left and land on your left leg. Then jump to the right, landing on your right leg. Keep your knees bent and jump as far as you can back and forth. You should feel like an inline skater. This is very specific for skiing.

From there you should do some basic strengthening exercises.

Squat with pause
Perform one set of five reps, one set of eight reps then one set of 12 reps all lowering slowly, with a 1 second pause at the bottom and resting for 60-90 seconds between each one.

Start: With a barbell as high on your neck as is comfortable, grip the bar with your hands as close to your shoulders as you can. Be sure that your elbows are pointing directly down toward the floor. Your feet should be shoulder-width apart and either oriented straight ahead or  rotated outward slightly.

Movement: Bending at the knees and hips, squat as deeply as you can, keeping your torso upright. (Think about keeping your chest up as if you have a string pulling up your chest.) Then return to the starting position. The upward movement should exactly mirror the downward movement. Your knees should stay the same distance apart throughout the move. If they collapse inward, decrease the weight you’re using and think about squeezing your butt muscles as you do the exercise.

Then move into a circuit of two exercises. Perform the following around in a circuit doing one then the other, then repeat for three to four sets.

Inverted rows
Three - four sets of eight reps with a 60-second rest

Start: Lie on your back on the floor under an Olympic bar that is placed securely in a squat rack, at a height that’s just slightly beyond arm’s length. Your chest should be directly under the bar, and your legs should be straight. Grab the bar with an overhand grip and lift your hips, keeping your body in a straight line from head to ankles. The position looks like the starting position of an upside-down pushup. If this position is too difficult, bend your knees and put your feet flat on the floor to decrease the load by distributing more of your weight onto your legs.

Movement: Performing a rowing motion, pull your upper body up to the bar so that your chest touches the bar. Keep your body completely flat throughout the motion.
** You can also use a TRX, which is an excellent piece of equipment to add to your training.

Single leg romanian deadlift

Three to four sets of eight on each side with a 60 second rest
Start: Stand on your right leg with your left arm reaching out toward the ground in front of you. As you get stronger, you can hold a dumbbell or kettlebell(shown). Stand with a neutral spine, which means do not let your back round.

Movement: Bending at the hip, reach for the floor with your left arm while pushing your hips back to stretch your hamstrings. Go as low as you can while maintaining a neutral spine, and then contract and return to the starting position. Repeat on your left leg, reaching with your right hand.

Finish with Countdowns. “Countdowns” means you’ll start with a high number and work your way down to zero.

Bodyweight speed squats/jump squats and pushups

Start with seven of each, then six, then five, down to one and one. You’ll go back and forth between the following two exercises.

Bodyweight squat/jump squat
Start: Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and your arms at your sides.

Movement: Squat until your thighs are at or below parallel to the floor, return to the starting position, and repeat. Keep your knees tracking over your toes and keep your heels down the entire time. If you are ready to progress this move add a jump. From the bottom position drive yourself off the ground exploding as high as you can in to the air. Land and repeat.

Pushup
Start: Assume a pushup position on an incline—that is, place your hands on a bar, bench, or wall to support your upper body, depending on how strong you are. If you’re strong enough, begin in the standard pushup position, prone with your weight supported by your hands and your toes on the floor. Otherwise, the higher the incline on which you place your hands, the easier the pushup will be. Your spine should be in a straight line, with your head, upper back, and tailbone in alignment.

Movement: Bend at the elbows to lower yourself toward the floor, keeping your body in a straight line and your abdominals tight. Descend until your shoulders go just below your elbows, then return to the starting position, keeping your body in a straight line during the entire movement. If you cannot achieve the full range of motion without letting your back arch or sticking your hips out, then increase the incline.

Rachel Cosgrove is co-owner of Results Fitness and best selling author of “The Female Body Breakthrough.” If you need help individualizing a program like the one above or just getting it done visit Results Fitness, www.results-fitness.com. They are offering a 21 day free trial to get everyone ski season ready!


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