by Chris Carmichael
Walking through the training area of my Performance Center in Aspen recently, I noticed cones, boxes, painted lines, and low walls everywhere—the place looked like a construction zone. The lab director, Riggs Klika, who's been helping slalom snowboarder Chris Klug prepare for the 2006 Winter Olympics, caught me scanning the room.
"Plyometrics," he explained. "Watch out for Klug—he's more powerful and agile than ever."
Plyometrics—hops, jumps, and other exercises that require sudden bursts of power—takes a solid base of strength and endurance training and adds a turbocharger to it while also fine-tuning balance. In other words, incorporating plyometrics into your workout will condition you for the dynamic demands of your sport, the kind that ordinary training can't prepare you for.
Zigzag Drill: Tape two parallel 20-foot lines on the floor, 27 inches apart. Balance on your right foot on the left line and hop diagonally to the right line, then immediately back to the left, and so on, to the end. Turn around and zigzag back, this time on your left foot. Repeat five times. Rest one minute between cycles.
Standing Long Jump With Sprint: Start in a semi-squat, feet shoulder width apart. Jump forward as far as you can, land on both feet with bent knees, then immediately turn right and sprint for ten strides. Repeat immediately. After five cycles, rest one minute and complete five more, turning left after each jump.
Researchers at the University of Connecticut have discredited the belief that downing caffeine—a known diuretic—increases the risk of dehydration in active people. During a 2005 study, fit male subjects who exercised four times a week were split into three groups. One group knocked back a placebo, one gulped down the caffeine equivalent of 14 ounces of coffee, while the other swallowed a double dose of the energizer. The results showed no increase in urine production by any group, indicating that a caffeine boost each day won't put the active set into a liquid deficit.