When old man winter sends your workout indoors, it can feel like you’re being sent into a training timeout, but you can train for your outdoor winter sports indoors just as effectively, if you do it right.
A little cross-training is good for every athlete and should be incorporated into every plan. It keeps your performance from plateauing, reduces injury and is the recipe for a healthy, well-rounded athlete. When it’s forced on you, however, you might enter those gym doors a little more begrudgingly.
Whether you are a skier, snowboarder, climber or snowshoer, you don’t have to feel chained to the treadmill in the gym anymore. There is some new technology hiding indoors that can safely prep you for your winter sport while keeping you on track to your performance goals.
Purists look down their nose at gym machines, especially cardio equipment, because many old-school models do lighten the demand on your body, which to an athlete is a bad thing.
Treadmills eliminate the forward momentum of running, so you are basically just moving your feet to keep the belt from shooting you off the back. Ellipticals take away the impact on your joints, a common complaint from treadmill users, but you are stuck to one range of motion and most often just go along for the ride. Upright bikes give you all the pedaling resistance you can handle, but with no risk of falling over, your balance is not challenged—a necessary component to cross-training for winter sports.
There are other pieces of equipment on the block you may have missed while you were training in the great outdoors. Based out of Woodinville, Wash, Precor, the inventors of the elliptical, brings us the newest cardio advancement. Precor’s Adaptive Motion Trainer (AMT) lets you take the lead instead of the machine doing the work.
The AMT looks much like an arc trainer, but it allows you to have complete control: your speed, stride length, stride pattern and resistance are all up to you. You can change your workouts at will, just by moving naturally. With the AMT you can go from short to long strides, walking to running, climbing to even lunging smoothly, easily, and whenever the heck you feel like it.
The difference is in the Open Stride feature that allows you to not only dynamically adapt your stride length from zero to 36 inches but also your stride height—from 6.8 to 10 inches—providing an infinite range of stride patterns that engage several muscle groups. Go from running, to lunging, to stair stepping—even drop your butt, hunker down and simulate navigating moguls—whatever your winter sport throws your way.
Strength training is an integral part of cross-training, as well, and nothing replaces the weight room. Use free weights to challenge your balance and be sure to focus on exercises that work your core and the major muscles of your lower body to prepare them for the stabilizing demands of most winter sports.
Functional training using equipment like kettlebells, TRX straps, battle ropes, and unstable surfaces like balance boards and BOSU balls, train your body in the way it’s designed to move, with compound movements using multiple muscle groups.
The gym doesn’t need to be a watered-down version of your outdoor sport training. Trading the great outdoors for four walls doesn’t mean you have to put your training on hold. Use it as an opportunity to fine-tune, learn and grow as an athlete.
Kelly Turner is a professional fitness writer from Seattle. Her no-nonsense, practical advice has been featured on DietsInReview.com, FitnessMagazine.com, Yahoo! Shine, and she has a regular fitness column in The Seattle Times. Follow her on Twitter @KellyTurnerFit.