(1) It's all about breakfast. Start with oatmeal and fresh fruit. A little protein and fat to keep you full isn't bad. We recommend Canadian bacon. Hot chocolate is hydrating as well as sweet. (2) Injuries usually happen in the afternoon, due to fatigue, so snack frequently. Granola bars and dried fruits provide a blood-glucose pickup to help you maintain focus. (3) Hydration is key. Insulate a warmed sports drink, and down at least 24 ounces each in the morning and in the afternoon. And try to resist the urge to slug seven beers in the hot tub: The extra fluid loss from the alcohol and sweating will hurt the next day.
Part Two: Strength
Skiing and snowboarding require strong muscles capable of explosive movement and shock absorption. Divide your strength training into upper- and lower-body workouts. Don't ignore your chest and arms just because your legs do most of the work. Upper-body strength will give you more balance and confidence on steeps, add purpose to your pole plants, and help stave off arm injuries caused by falls. Shoot for two 45-minute strength sessions per week for the first two months. For the third month, stay at 45 minutes per session, but increase to three weekly sessions.
PLYOMETRIC JUMPS: This classic drill builds the fast-twitch muscle fibers you need to carve aggressive turns. Use a plyo-box, bench, tortoiseanything about one foot high. Stand next to it, jump onto it sideways, jump (don't step) back down, and then explode up again as many times as you can in 60 seconds. Switch to the other side and repeat. Then face the box and jump forward onto it. Again, shoot for as many reps as possible in 60 seconds.
LUNGES: Know that feeling when your thighs feel like they're going to burn through your ski pants? Lunges will help. Stand with legs hip width apart, hands on hips. Step forward, right leg first, lowering your pelvis until your front knee is bent 90 degrees. Then return to starting position. Do 1012 reps, then repeat with your left leg. Lunging during runs or hikes on uneven trails will work your balance skills. As time goes on, try holding light weightsabout five poundsin your hands to increase the difficulty.
SQUATS: Nothing builds power in your quads and glutes like squats, so try to work in one session a week. Stand with feet hip width apart, with a squat bar across your trapezius muscles. Press your chest up and out. Your lower back should be slightly arched. Squat until you begin to feel your hamstrings touch your calves. Pick a weight that allows you to do three sets of 1012 reps. Use slow, controlled movements.
CHIN-UPS: You don't need a dumbbell rack to build a strong upper body. Start with chin-ups, and don't be afraid to use a chin-up-assist machine. Shoot for two sets of three to six reps. Proper form: palms facing you, arms slightly wider than shoulder width and fully extended. Pull up until your chin reaches the bar. By the end of one month you should be able to do three sets; at the end of two months, three sets with less counterweight on the assist machine; and by the end of three months, you should be up to four sets with no counterweight.
PUSH-UPS: Start with two sets of 1012 reps. Lie chest-down with your hands at shoulder level, palms flat on the floor and slightly more than shoulder width apart. Look ahead and push up. Keep your back straight. Add one set after each month.
MILITARY PRESS: Shoulder injuries happen when skiers break falls with their arms. This exercise helps strengthen the shoulder joint. Sitting with your back supported, grab a weight in each hand. Hold the weights up, squeezing your shoulder blades together so your elbows are at 90 degrees. Raise weights, then lower.