CROSS-TRAINING FOR BOARDSPORTS
By Caitlin Burke
I know, it sounds crazy, and certainly painful, but sometimes you can't get on your board all year long. Here are some ways to keep - or freshen up - your strength and skills for getting back on the board.
Surfing, skating, wakeboarding, and snowboarding are all a little different, but they have a lot in common, too. All require three things:
The great outdoors and the gym - and even a mat in front of the tv - offer lots of opportunities for cross-training or offseason training for boardsports.
BALANCE AND COORDINATION
Balance exercises like push/pull exercises with a friend. Also, get into low snowboard stance, especially in a place where you have to keep your balance, like a balance beam -- or a curb. Close your eyes and find your center, then practice raising and lowering your body in the bent-knee stance.
Rock climbing is a great way to shore up balance and coordination. You don't have to be the next Tiffany Levine; even the motion and problem-solving of moderate climbs in a climbing gym will help. Rock climbing also helps build and maintain trunk strength - see below!
Yoga, particularly an exercise-oriented hatha program, is all about balance and flexibility. Again, you don't have to spend hours in punishing contorted poses, and you don't even have to go every day. A weekly beginner hatha class can be terrific "reset" as well as good cross-training.
Crunches: If you're not doing any, starting now will improve your strength and power on your board of choice - and it can reduce back pain, too. Don't feel like you have to do a zillion; the important things are good form and consistency. Crunches are an exercise for every day.
A variety of crunches: Don't forget your obliques. There are lots of kinds of crunches, some emphasizing the muscles nearest your ribcage, some emphasizing muscles lower down. You want to be sure to get the muscles on the sides, too.
Lower-back extensions: No trunk-strength regimen is complete without lower-back extensions. Done on a machine or just on a stand, positioning is key to do these properly, so you may need to stop by the gym, at least to learn how to do them safely. It's well worth it, though. Lower-back extensions work with abdominal strengthening to keep your trunk strong and balanced.
Off-road biking, like mountain biking or cyclocross, can give you plenty of opportunities to navigate minor obstacles or variations in terrain, with as little - or as much - steepness as you like.
Trail running is another way to take on variable terrain, and it's great aerobic exercise, too.
And of course, there's always another boardsport!
PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER
Not all of these activities replace an aerobic workout. Weight and heart-health maintenance require at least 25 minutes of aerobic exercise 3 to 4 times a week. But you can easily fold that into other outdoor activities, as with line-picking, or just jump on the treadmill when you hit the gym to do those lower-back extensions.
You can always stay in shape for boardsports by doing different boardsports throughout the year. But, hey, no points off if your love for your snowboard just doesn't leave room for surf or skate. The best way to stick with any training program is to figure out the activities that you enjoy - make it something you want to do. So when that powder day (or winter swell ... or sunny day) comes along, you'll be ready for what you love.
Modified June 2001.