It’s about that time of year for training Colorado winter sports my friends!
The nights are getting cooler and the leaves are glowing gold in the mountains, some of the peaks have already gotten their first snow and us city-dwellers aren’t far behind. I was never a big fan of winter; in fact I’ve sworn several years that “This will be my last winter in Denver.” But this year is so different, because last year I learned to snowboard and it changed everything! Instead of wincing at the thought that “Winter is coming” I’m actually excited. All the winter gear sales are happening and I’m happy to be suiting up with layers and thinking about getting my ride on in just under a month.
In preparation to not hate my life after that first weekend, I’m going to be upping my conditioning game before then, which means … LEGS! You can’t ride over, trudge through, skate across or hike up a snow covered mountain, or a snow covered anything, without legs that are up to the challenge. Whatever activity you’re into, or maybe want to pick up this snow season, these leg workouts we use at Awaken Gym in Denver will get you ready for a fun and fit winter.
Box jumps, squat jumps, tuck jumps, basically anything with the word jump in the name.
Jumping is a lot of work (which is why most people hate doing it), but it adds tremendous power and stability to your body, which is especially helpful for balancing on slippery snow or maneuvering through trees or drifts. It also builds some of your biggest muscle groups which burns a sh*t ton of calories, so don’t feel guilty about that extra slice of pizza or pint of beer after your runs.
These kinds of exercises are pretty self explanatory, but incorporating one or two of them into your workouts a week will go a long way in prepping your leg muscles to carry you through a Colorado winter.
Weight bearing & resistance training
Stiff legged deadlifts, weighted lunges or squats, band work, arch ups
Resistance work is a great compliment to plyometrics because the latter builds fast-twitch muscles and explosive strength while the former develops the slow-twitch muscles and increases endurance. There’s a wide variety of resistance workouts but a couple of my favorites for the hammies are stiff legged deadlifts and arch ups, and you can’t beat weighted lunges for an all around killer leg workout.
When performing stiff legged deadlifts, stand on a box or stacked mats with a barbell - start with an empty one and add weight as you become stronger. Slowly lower the barbell down toward your feet keeping the knees locked and curling your back one vertebra at a time.
For arch ups, use a backstrap over a door or stall bar. Put hands behind your ears or cross them across your chest. Squeeze your hamstrings and glutes and pull up through your lower and mid back. The key here is to go slow even though it burns!
Fifteen of these will have you feeling it and will really help strengthen your core and stability muscles as well.
Single leg squats, wall sits
Everyone knows how to do a wall sit but if you really want to ramp up your leg strength try single leg squats. You can use rings or any other stable support for the extra boost you need to get back up, or you can use a weight plate to counter-balance your weight as you become stronger. You can do a straight single leg squat or I like doing negatives, counting down from ten or even five until you reach the bottom of your squat.
The extra slow pace will create mad control in those quads and hammies and really boost your strength to another level.
Running, sprints, climbing
It’s always good to vary your workouts and keeping those legs agile and lean will help you out on the slopes. Colorado has some of the most beautiful trails, especially this time of year, and before the snow comes is the perfect chance to explore the fall colors while also working yourself out. Climb the stairs at Red Rocks, hike your last 14er of the season, ride your bike up Lookout Mountain, whatever sounds fun!
The best way to prevent injury this winter season: stretch it out on the regular! Our legs contribute a lot to the constitution on our bodies and our posture. When they’re tight, everything else tends to be off, especially the back. And when the back is compromised because of a tight lower body, it’s no bueno for keeping your balance on slippery snow. Make a habit of stretching at the end of every riding day, snowshoeing trip, hockey practice, or training sesh.
It will go a long way toward keeping your body balanced and ready for all the rowdy days this winter.
To all our Colorado Snow Sports Enthusiasts, have a great season training Colorado winter sports and join us at Awaken, Denver’s Best Gym, to practice some of these gymnastic bodyweight drills and hit a weekly stretching or mobility class!