Olympian and Team Toyota Rider Louie Vito is one of the most exciting half-pipe snowboarders on the professional circuit these days. Only 24 years old, he finished fifth in the half-pipe snowboarding final in the Vancouver Winter Olympics nearly three years ago, and he has continued to be a force to be reckoned with ever since. Vito took first place at the European Winter X Games in 2011 and recently finished second behind Shaun White at the Dew Tour in Breckenridge, Colorado.
Vito may be young, but he’s been snowboarding on a world-class level for several years, looking to perfect his craft and get his body in perfect form to do all those jumps, spins and grabs that he’s known for. We had a chat with him about what kind of training regimen he’s utilizing, while also figuring out his competitive goals for the near future—is he gunning to dethrone Shaun White? Find out here.
Men’s Fitness: So you’ve had quite the extensive training program since last year. What is that all about?
Louie Vito: I started going to John Schaeffer at Winning Factor the spring of 2011. I met John through Apolo Ohno because I looked at Apolo as the most conditioned Winter Olympian. Everything we do is sports specific and [helps with] injury prevention. We focus mostly on lifting, intervals [on the treadmill] and running steps with weights.
MF: What muscle groups do you think you need to focus more on as a halfpipe snowboarder, as opposed to most other athletes?
LV: We focus on a lot of lower body and core. The first year I did not work on any upper body unless the workout included holding dumbbells. Now, I do very little upper body, and I concentrate more on body maintenance. As a snowboarder you do a lot of jumping, landings, and snapping through your core and lower body. You have to be able to take some compression landings as well.
MF: What motivated you to start that program?
LV: A lot of tragic things have happened in the winter action sports world in the last few years that opened my eyes even more to the fact that snowboarding can be taken away in the blink of an eye. I realized that you get a short window to be the best that you can be, and I need to make the most out of the gift I have been blessed with from God. I am also a firm believer in the statement: “The will must be greater than the skill.” There are snowboarders who are more naturally talented than I am, but there is not a snowboarder in the world who is willing to work harder than me … on or off the hill. At the end of the day, I want to be able to look back and know I did everything in my power to be the best.
MF: What’s different about your training program?
LV: I will say that when 2014 comes around, there will not be a more conditioned snowboarder than me. In fact, I am confident there will not be any athlete in all of the Winter Olympics that will be more conditioned than me. John has trained some of the best athletes in many different disciplines, and he knows health and fitness more than anyone. If anyone disagrees, I urge them to come and do a workout with us. His easiest day is harder than most people's hardest day.
MF: Has your training off the slopes always been important to you—or did it increase as you moved up through the professional ranks of the sport?
LV: I grew up in a pretty healthy and active family. Before the last Olympics, I worked with a trainer who trained a lot of NBA players. But after 2010, I felt like it was time for me to really step it up and go to the best that I could find.
MF: Is nutrition an important part of your regimen?
LV: I changed my whole diet when I started working with John. I quit partying because I didn't want to take any steps backwards. I don't eat bread, rice, milk, or soy. I eat a lot of fish, veggies, eggs, and chicken. I don't take a lot of supplements, but I take CLA, Cal-Mag with D3, Colostrum, and Glutamine.
MF: What exercises do you find particularly beneficial to snowboarding? Are there any that readers can try at home?
LV: I think running steps is a great one. If you don't have weights, you go for speed and more rounds. If you have weights, then that is even better. I go from running steps without weight to running steps with 60 lbs. in each hand. Also, intervals are great on a treadmill. Everything is short and intense with no water cooler rests. You get in and get out!
MF: How do you divide weight training and cardio so that you can be at your best when you’re out on the slopes?
LV: I go hard in the off-season with mostly two-a-days. Then when the season gets closer, I begin to taper it down a little. And when the season is here, I stay in a lower intensity program. Contest week I don't do anything at the gym unless it’s stretching.
MF: You vs. Shaun White—heated rivalry or friendly rivalry?
LV: Neither. Shaun is a great snowboarder but I never look at a contest that he is at as, "I want to beat Shaun White." If I have to beat him to win, then great. But if he gets 3rd place and I get 2nd, that isn't a successful contest for me because I didn't win. Snowboarding is a subjective sport, so I just try to ride the best that I can because I can't control what anyone else does—or how the judges score me.