Unless you're a professional snow wizard with enough sponsors to foot the bill for an annual summer escape to Patagonia or NZ, you probably greet the first powder dump of the year with a few cobwebs to shake out. And while you can certainly ride yourself into shape, a little prep work in the gym will go a long way to avoiding injuries and spending more days on the mountain. For advice on how to get ready for the winter season, The North Face endurance athlete Mike Wolfe took a few minutes out of his busy schedule (he just opened The Mountain Project, a new gym in Bozeman MT) to share a few thoughts.
“Overall, I would spend two days a week in the gym, building strength, power and agility in the major muscle groups of the lower body and core,” says Wolfe. This will help get the most out of your first days on the hill, and lessen the temptation to pack it in after the first quad-searing run. Be sure to include flexibility and balance work in your routine as well, to avoid injury.
“It’s fine to lift heavy, if you know what you’re doing,” he adds, recommending classic lifts such as squats, deadlifts, and lunges, which translate into power on the snow, as well as core work (including the lower back) to bring it all together. Wolfe also recommends plyometric and agility work, especially single-leg agility drills that will help you identify any weaknesses before they become injuries.
In addition to the days in the gym, spend at least one day a week in recovery with plenty of foam rolling and stretching, and mix in a few days of running, hiking, or mountain biking to build fitness and keep things fun.
In addition to weightlifting, here are some bodyweight exercises that can help get you ready for the snow:
With a few solid sessions in the gym, you should be ready for a winter’s worth of powder days.