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Christmas is approaching and no doubt focus is on preparation for the Big Day, but where has your attention been in relation to getting ready for your snowboarding trip or ski holiday? We all know that we need a combination of mobility, strength, core stability, and cardiovascular fitness but the choice of activities available to us is huge. It will depend upon your own fitness baseline, weak areas needing to be developed plus what slots into everyday routine and lifestyle. In my search for gaining more strength I tried weightlifting and unexpectedly loved it. Carrying pre-conceived ideas, I had no real interest in weights and I’m not a gym bunny either. However I was persuaded to give it a go and found the reality very different. My trainer, Tina, gives some pointers and tips below……

Why should I bother to lift weights – what’s in it for my snowboarding? Weightlifting can be a great addition to your training programme. Not only will it help to build strong muscles, but it can be beneficial for bone density and ligament strength too. Weightlifting involves a lot of core strength, so can be a great way to get stronger and fitter for the slopes.

I don’t want to bulk up so weights aren’t for me right? It really annoys me when people think this. Women especially feel that they will bulk up as there are a lot of images showing women ripped and manly. In all honesty, they are likely to have been enhanced with hormones that change their appearance. 10lbs of fat obviously weights the same as 10lbs of muscle, but muscle takes up less space in the body. So although you might not see your weight change, your shape will change and you will lean out. Women should be looking at load bearing exercises within their activities and exercise, because we are more likely to have osteoporosis in later life due to our hormones. So weightlifting can help massively.

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Are there any people who shouldn’t lift? In short – absolutely not – there is always something which can be done. As a weightlifting coach I may have to adapt the movements. For example a client might not be able to achieve a full range of motion due to flexibility. But there are so many variants of the core lifts, and assistant exercises for them, that there is always plenty to fill a session. I have yet to meet someone who wasn’t able to do some kind of weight training, and I have worked with pregnant women, disabled lifters and the over 60s.

I carry injuries so I can’t lift right? Some injuries will of course require rest, but some weightlifting can help with mobility and muscle repair by manipulating the muscle to repair and grow. Obviously I would always suggest a client seeks advice from a health professional first.  And if you do have an injury, get a good coach who can look after you and prevent any further injuries.  Do not have a DIY approach and start watching You Tube. After all, having an injury can cause other areas of your body to compensate for the injury, which in turn can itself become injured.

Is there an ideal programme to get snowboarding fit? You need to work on all areas, particularly the legs. But never work the quads and neglect the hamstrings. If you work the abductors, then you work the adductors. Everything in the body works with its opposite, so if you over train one part you will end up with a muscle imbalance. In addition, look at your core and posture too which can effect your weight distribution and centre of mass. So, for some examples do some straight-legged deadlifts (Romanian Deadlifts) and then do a leg extension, either on a weight machine or using a resistance band around a chair leg. For your core I always like to do some stability ball work with my clients; you can see they think it will be easy, but it’s harder than it seems.

I don’t need to go to the gym or get a personal trainer, I have weights at home? Ideally, if you are starting out, get a coach or trainer. There is a lot of rubbish on the internet. The movements are more technical than most people realise, whether it be powerlifting or the more dynamic Olympic weightlifting. Check the coach has a track record of coaching, lifting, and qualifications. I am a qualified coach with British Weightlifting so have to pass a certain standard, abide by their code of conduct and be licensed. Learn the basics from an experienced coach before you try it yourself. However, for those who would rather learn themselves, I would recommend the powerlifter’s bible, ‘Starting Strength’ by Mark Rippetoe. He has a straight no-nonsense approach that is easy to follow and will guide you from the very basics.  He also has some great videos on YouTube.

Ok, I’m sold, how do I get started? Well anyone in the North Tyneside area can come and have a free taster session with me! Just get in touch; click to access my website. If you’re not in the area then the British Weightlifting website has a directory of clubs. The big chain gyms don’t have the same attitudes to weightlifting or the tolerance for the intricacies of the sport. So find a small gym, one that has a lot of weightlifting equipment: you know the ones, like a proper old school gym. You usually get the best advice and support as they live and breathe weightlifting. I use Cube Fit, a small gym in North Tyneside, whose owner, Josh Mosavi, has just come third in the BBC Get Inspired Unsung Hero competition for the North East.

Have you got any tips for other ways to get snowboarding fit? High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is a great way to build fitness in a short time, without having to spend hours in the gym. But use the big muscle groups such as the legs, back and shoulders. That way you will get the biggest benefit. The class Metafit is a great example. Again you can find an instructor or class online on their website.

Thank you Tina. Your insight into the sport and how it can benefit women, not just in terms of snowboarding, but for general health and well-being has been illuminating, challenging some myths and encouraging us to give it a go. I was surprised at the technicality involved and how much weight I could actually lift. Whatever you do this festive season do not neglect your training. As you strap in you will be glad you paid attention to your fitness.

Ta ta for now,