As the days get shorter and the mercury drops, you've got two options to prepare for winter: den up in the living room and put on a few extra pounds or train hard and attack the snow sports. We're picking the latter. Here's how to get started.
What Your Body Needs: It's a technical sport, but training for it doesn't have to be. The key skill is is strength, says Will Gadd, holder of three international ice-climbing championship titles. "You need to be able to do solid squats and staggered grip pullups over and over again," he says. "That's the best possible training for ice climbing without actually climbing."
How to Train: One of Gadd's favorite all-around winter-sport workouts doesn't even require weights. It's a circuit of 100 air squats, 100 pullups, 100 situps, and 100 pushups, with each exercise completed before moving on to the next. (Starting out, choose a more realistic number of reps.) "Anyone who can do that workout in less than 20 minutes isn't going to have an issue with any of the strength requirements in winter climbing—or any outdoor sport," he says.
What Your Body Needs: The most crucial skills in snowboarding are flexibility and rotation, according to Chris Hargrave, manager of the Burton Snowboard Academy at Northstar-at-Tahoe. Mastering the sport requires improving four key ranges of motion: toe-to-heel balance for transferring your weight from toe edge to heel edge; flexing and extending the knees, ankles, and hips, which helps generate airtime; core rotation, which allows for controlled spinning in the air; and the ability to shift weight between the front and back foot, which allows the rider to move the board with momentum.
How to Train: Vince Redondo, a snow-sport training expert at Sport Club/L.A. in San Francisco, suggests increasing your hip mobility with a snowboard-focused workout: a three- to five-minute warm-up on an agility ladder, side-to-side shuffle, and 90-degree hops. Squats will strengthen your ankles, knees, and hips; try them while holding a medicine ball and standing on a Bosu ball, and you'll increase your core strength, too. Rotate your shoulders from side to side as you stand. One-armed cable rows—while standing on a Bosu—can help to make your back and core stronger and prevent muscle imbalances.
What Your Body Needs: Former U.S. Ski Team member Reggie Crist won X Games gold in ski cross and spends his winters working as a heli-ski guide in Alaska. He's done it all while avoiding one of the sport's most common injuries, a torn ACL. His secret? Strength symmetry. "Your quadriceps and hamstrings are antagonistic pairs of muscles," says Crist. "If your quads are more than 20% stronger than your hamstrings, you're more likely to blow out your knee and end your season. A big part of training for skiing is preventing injury."
How to Train: Most people have much stronger quads than hamstrings, so Crist recommends stepups to even out the imbalance. Place one foot on an elevated surface, like a chair or bench, so your front thigh is parallel to the floor. Step up onto the surface. For a tougher workout, do lunges up your staircase—think of it as basically a series of stepups for both legs.