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Hello I am preparing for snowboarding season.

I'm generally in decent shape but want to target exercises that would prepare me to snowboard comfortably for many hours.

Last season my legs especially would give up on me sooner than I would like in the day. Plus about half way down the hill I'd have to stop until the legs stopped burning. Would like to go for 4,5,6+ hours and without needing to stop halfway down the hill. Snowboarding at speed and doing hard turns, but not really doing jumps, on a roughly 500 foot hill.

I'm pretty sure the main exercise I should add to my routine is squats, but how many should I aim to be able to do? With weight? Other exercises or things to consider?

Thanks!

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Right off the bat I think it needs to be said that snowboarding is largely a technique driven sport. Some high level riders (like Ryan Knapton) are admittedly "too fat and not strong enough", but because their technique is so good that they use much less muscle force to accomplish the same thing.

By riding more you get better, specifically in these ways:

  • You're more comfortable going faster, so you don't push your edges so hard.
  • You can ride your board more and not fight it as much.
  • You don't crash as much, and those crashes really can make you sore (or worse).
  • You ride the appropriate board for the conditions so as an example you won't be trying to butter/tail press a small board through deep powder and will rather just ride a bigger board.
  • You can ride switch to give your back leg a vacation and share the load a bit.

None of that has anything to do with squats or box jumps, rather it's just the benefit of riding all the time. Those muscle memory skills tend to stick around for years (even decades) unlike muscle fitness which can drop within weeks if not used.

But even for an accomplished rider in good shape, something like pushing through deep powder all day long will exhaust you. Carving your way down blue groomers is one thing but ruddering around your tail in powder or blasting through tracked out lines is much more energy demanding. To that end, these are the training techniques I employ and would encourage others to do the same:

  • Back squats. The head-to-toe nature of these are just too good to ignore. I would focus on the higher rep range (8-12) unless you have other goals.
  • Balance board stands and balance board squats. This encourages good technique which reduces the muscular force employed.
  • Wall shots. I like these in particular because they teach explosive (power) moves, especially if you get your feet to leave the ground on the toss. But on the catch you end up being slightly cock-eyed and have to adjust quickly which is common on a snowboard.
  • The seated ball throw is good, I use a medicine ball with some bounce and throw it against a wall (~3 feet / 1 meter away).

Just on a personal note, I live at 8K feet in Mammoth, and put over 120 days on my season pass last year. But a lot of those "days" where 1-2 hours hitting a small park area. If I rode hard all day following a big snow dump there's no way I was going back the following day. Or if I went back is was on groomers hanging out with someone who's just learning. My legs were too cooked and I needed the recovery time. You need all your skills and muscle freshness to tackle terrain that's advanced for whatever level you're at, and showing up still trashed from yesterday isn't a safe move.

In short, I'd focus on more riding and trying to dial in your technique. Smoother carving and being able to handle tougher terrain with ease. Next, do the training steps above which just in general make you bigger/faster/stronger. And finally pick the days you want to send it, the days you want to work on park features, and the days you want to rest or chill. Spending a day working on your carves or riding switch is a day well spent but won't tire you out as much as really pushing the pedal to the floor.

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Strengthening your body will help with snowboarding, because it will make each force-exertion relatively easier.

That said, you may need some "sport-specific conditioning"; for example, repeated bouts of intense exertion patterned according to what you expect to do on the slopes.

EDIT: An actual example of sport-specific conditioning for this case, using a weighted sled in High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT):

  1. Push the sled at ~80% of maximum effort for one minute. This may be difficult!
  2. Rest for three minutes.
  3. Do 1. and 2. for a total of ten rounds or more.

Note that -- unless you are relatively untrained -- any squats that you can repeat for minutes (never mind hours) will not provide enough stimulus/stress to drive strength increases for an appreciable length of time.

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  • Yes this is a good generic sports related answer. Mimic the activity and do it high intensity for the same period of time or longer that you want to do it perhaps. Of course, I don't feel like doing squats for 5 hours on intervals of 2 minutes squatting - 10 minutes sitting. So maybe this could compressed into a 1 hour workout. :P – Andrew Nov 19 '17 at 0:07
  • Ha! I certainly didn't mean to imply that you should squat repeatedly for hours. Please see my updated answer, which I edited to include an actual specific example. – Christian Conti-Vock Nov 19 '17 at 16:33
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From my experience, the best way to prepare is to target a few main points:

  • cardio (do things like running, hiit, biking, mix it up)
  • core strength (do things like pull ups, sit ups, planks)
  • leg strength/endurance (do squats/box jumps/stairmaster)

Shortly after I asked the original question, I did actually incorporate box jumps and squats as part of strength & cardio training. Box jumping for 30 minutes is an intense cardio workout and builds muscle strength.

Snowboarding was a breeze a month or two later.

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