To have a successful ski or snowboarding season, you need to spend some focused time in the gym. Skiing and snowboarding are high-intensity sports and demand three kinds of cardiovascular fitness: a high lactate threshold for endurance, lactate power for intense efforts and a strong aerobic base that is critical for recovery. To develop all three kinds of cardiovascular fitness, here are a few training tips that can get you in shape for the season.
The lactate threshold is the point during training at which lactate builds up in the blood stream faster than the body can remove it. This point is usually reached between 50 to 80% of an athlete’s “VO2 max” or maximal oxygen uptake. This is one factor that can determine an athlete’s capacity to perform sustained exercise and is linked to aerobic endurance. You can determine your precise lactate threshold and VO2 max with lab testing at a fitness laboratory.
Once you know your numbers, training can increase your lactate threshold. You can use any preferred cardio training (running, cycling, etc.) for this. There are several routines that can target your lactate threshold – here’s one to consider.
- Warm up for 10 minutes.
- Do a two-minute interval at 60 to 85 percent of your maximum heart rate.
- Back off the intensity to an easy pace for 2/3 minutes; then repeat.
- Do five or six intervals at the same pace, followed by a 10-minute cool-down.
As you improve, gradually boost the intensity. You can also increase the interval time to up to three minutes.
To increase your lactate power you’ll need training with powerful, explosive movements. Medicine balls are excellent for this kind of training and there are several exercises that can give you great results. The “Squat Overhead Side Toss” is a move designed to increase your lactate power.
- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, and hold a small medicine ball in your right hand. Slowly squat.
- When your thighs are nearly parallel to the floor, explode upward, throwing the ball over your head to your left as hard as you can.
- Retrieve the ball, and repeat the drill.
- Do eight reps on each side.
There are a few steps that you MUST take to prevent injury with explosive-power training. Warm up by slowly going through the motions of each exercise five times without the ball or weight. Don’t push it — stick with lighter weights and fewer repetitions at first — form is more important than reps.
To develop a strong aerobic base you should commit to three to five weekly aerobic sessions for at least three months. Sessions can range from 20- 90 minutes, depending on your fitness level, but be sure to increase the time as you progress. Each session should be challenging, not unbearable – you should still be able to talk during your training time.