6 Ways to Train for Snowboarding in the Off-Season

Itching to get back on the slopes again? Snowboard Expert Noah Todd shares his top six training methods to get ready for snowboard season.

Someone completes a jump on a snowboard.

Photo by Visit Almaty

Published on

If you’re like me, you’re itching for the snow to start falling on the mountains so you can rush out to the chairlift and throw yourself down the slopes. Unfortunately, there are still months between now and the first resort opening. In the offseason, many people wonder how they can continue to improve their skills when there’s no snow. Here, I’m going to break down six ways to train for snowboarding in the off-season.

1. Pick Up Another Board Sport

There are so many board sports, and learning how to do one can make you better at the rest! A similar sport will help you improve your snowboarding skills in different ways, but some are especially good for particular snowboarding skills.

  • Skateboarding skills translate incredibly well into park riding. If you can ollie on a skateboard, you can definitely ollie on a snowboard. Similarly, learning to ride rails, go up halfpipes, and jump off ramps on a skateboard will make doing those same things on a snowboard a breeze. Many Olympic snowboarders spend their summers in skateparks, so if you’re looking to compete, you should find a skatepark near you!
  • Having surfing, wakeboarding, and wake-surfing experience helps tremendously on powder days. Water and snow aren’t exactly the same, but you approach riding on water and on snow similarly. Riding boards in the water will help you internalize how to move your body when surfing through powder. Additionally, learning how to do tricks on the water will make doing those same tricks much easier on powdery days.
  • The RipStik is a weird-looking skateboard, but it’s also an amazing, if not the best, way to learn how to carve on pavement. The way you need to move to turn and accelerate the RipStik teaches you how to turn on a snowboard. I learned how to RipStik before learning how to snowboard, and it helped me learn much faster than my fellow snowboarding classmates. I’ve also recommended the RipStik to friends between snowboarding trips, and it has helped them significantly. It can also be useful for learning how to ride switch! If you're new to snowboarding and want to progress faster than other riders, I would absolutely recommend picking one of these up before hitting the slopes.

2. Work on Your Cardio

A man runs on a trail with snow-capped mountains in the background.

Photo by Brian Metzler

Everyone has experienced exhaustion at the bottom of a slope at some point — maybe you went down a taxing mogul slope or a top-to-bottom powder run. Either way, the sparse oxygen in the higher altitudes mixed with vigorous exercise can take the wind out of even the best athletes. Working on your cardio can increase your endurance and keep you performing at your best.

The best way to work on your stamina is to find a cardio activity that you enjoy and do it at least three times a week. Really, any activity that makes you breathe hard will work. You can go running, biking, swimming, rowing, or whatever you like. The biggest factor is that you make a habit of doing it. If you’re looking for a specific cardio program, I’d recommend Nike’s running plans.

If you're looking to lower that resting heart rate even further, I would replace some of your cardio training days with high-intensity interval training (HIIT). This means switching between one to five minutes of high-intensity training and low-intensity training or rest. Vox has a great article explaining what HIIT is. You can also attend a fitness class like Orangetheory Fitness if you want a guided HIIT class.

3. Increase Your Mobility

Most people don’t love stretching and working on their flexibility, but increasing your mobility can help your movement on the slopes. Having a larger range of motion allows you to move your board more, which will help with sharper turns and quicker grabs. Additionally, more flexible muscles are less prone to pulls and tears. The best part is that you don’t have to do much to get a big benefit! If you're interested in increasing your mobility for snowboarding specifically, you should focus on your hip mobility and ankle mobility.

There are many flexibility programs out there, and many work! My suggestion is to check out r/flexibility’s starting to stretch program on Reddit. If you’re lazy like me, you can just do the five lower-body stretches in about ten minutes. Doing these three times a week can greatly reduce the risk of injury!

4. Strengthen Your Snowboarding Muscles

A snowboarder jumps in the air. The photo is taken from below.

Photo courtesy of PxHere

Most people experience soreness after around two days of snowboarding and have to take a rest day or two. To me, as someone who flies out to resorts, this is absolutely unacceptable, which is why I train my muscles in the off-season so I can ride daily from the first chair to the last!

Snowboarders usually get sore in a few main places: their thighs, calves, lower back, and shins. The main muscles that are getting sore are the hamstrings, quadriceps, glutes, calves, tibialis anterior, hip adductors (not to be confused with the abductors), erector spinae, and core muscles. There are a few others, but they are minor in comparison. Upper body muscles, like triceps, biceps, and forearms, are seldom used during snowboarding.

Below is a list of the main snowboarding muscles and how to train them. After that is a basic workout that will work all these muscles, and I won’t be offended if you skip the muscle explanations and go straight to the workout.

  • Hamstrings: Often referred to endearingly as “hammies,” these muscles pull your lower leg back at your knee and pull your leg back at the hip. Therefore, any knee-curling or torso-extending motion will use your hamstrings. Exercises that work your hammies include Romanian deadlifts, glute-ham raises, and hamstring curls. You also use your hammies when squatting or lunging, but they’re used less than other muscles for those movements.
  • Quadriceps: Skiers and snowboarders both complain the most about their quadriceps (also known as quads). Thankfully, this is one of the easier muscles to train. The quadricep extends your leg, so any movement with a leg extension will work your quads. Specific exercises that work your quads include squats, lunges, leg presses, and Bulgarian split squats.
  • Glutes: These muscles in your booty extend your legs, which is why they’ll get sore when you’re in a crouched position for more difficult terrain. Any leg-extending or torso-extending motion will use them. Therefore, you’ll use them in many of the previous exercises including squats, Romanian deadlifts, and leg presses. If you’re frustrated because your glutes aren’t getting sore, your hip-hinging mobility probably isn’t mobile enough.
  • Calves: Holding a toe edge for a long time can put a lot of strain on your calves, which pushes your feet down into the ground. Doing calf raises might seem like the obvious answer, but if you were to look around the world for the biggest calves, you would find them on sprinters and jumpers. Therefore, if you’re trying to train calves, I would start with box jumps, stair climbs, and hill sprints.
  • Tibialis Anterior: This is a lesser-known muscle because it’s rarely used heavily like it’s used in snowboarding. This tiny muscle pulls your foot up, so you use it when you pull your toe edge up to carve on your heel edge. To be honest, there aren’t many exercises for this little guy, and I don’t exercise it outside the snowboarding season. If it’s getting extra sore on the slopes, you can tilt your backplate on your bindings forward more.
  • Hip Adductors: These muscles bring your legs together, and they’re frequently overlooked in many workout routines because they aren’t used much outside snowboarding. You might be thinking, “Wait, your feet are strapped to a board. Why would you need to bring your feet together?” You’re right, they don’t come together, but you use these muscles to move your hips side to side as you balance on your board. These are another muscle that’s harder to train, but you can still work it by getting on a hip adductor machine or trying the exercises listed below.
  • Erector Spinae: This is your back muscle that extends your spine. You use this when you're hunched over on your snowboard. You'll work this sufficiently when you're doing squats and Romanian deadlifts.
  • Core Muscles: You use your obliques, abdominals, and other core muscles when you twist your body and bring your torso forward.

Here’s my recommended weightlifting routine, which I’d recommend doing twice a week. For each exercise, there are many variations that you can choose from, which are loosely sorted from easiest to hardest. I would do each exercise for three to four sets of eight to 15 reps. The first week, aim for 12 to 15 reps. Every week, increase your weight, if applicable, by 5%, even if that means you can't do as many reps. After four weeks, switch up your exercises.

1. Squats: Squats are an amazing exercise for all winter sports. They work your glutes, quadriceps, hamstrings, and erector spinae.

2. Romanian Deadlifts: Romanian Deadlifts are perfect for working your glutes, hamstrings, and erector spinae. Romanian deadlifts are excellent because they give you the best benefits of the deadlift while reducing your chance of injury. Romanian deadlifts are the same as a deadlift, but instead of starting with the weight on the floor, you put the weight on an elevated surface. By starting at the top, you ensure that your spine is aligned properly. To start the movement, pick up the weight and lower it until you feel like you can no longer hinge your hips. Then, you lift the weight up. Stopping where you can no longer bend your hips prevents back injury because lowering past your limit requires bending your back, which can compromise it.

3. Split Squats and Lunges: Split squats and lunges help tremendously with strengthening your tiny stabilizing muscles along with your quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes. These also make sure that your left leg and right leg are equally strong.

4. Calf Exercises: There are many different calf exercises. If you want to do extra work for your calves, you can do two instead of one of the following.

5. Hip Adductor Exercises: Hip adductor exercises can be tricky to do, which is why this is the only time I’d suggest using a machine in this article.

6. Abdominal Exercises for Lower Abs:

7. Abdominal Exercises for Upper Abs:

8. Oblique Exercises:

5. Trampoline Training

If you’re an advanced snowboarder who’s looking to practice jumping, trampoline training can be helpful for learning to control yourself in the air. Most big jump snowboarders practice their tricks in beautifully outfitted jumping gyms like Copper Mountain’s Woodward Barn or Salt Lake City’s Snowgression. You train similarly by just practicing tricks on a large enough trampoline.

The main features of these gyms are their large trampolines and their ramps into foam pits. Most people start by grabbing a trampoline board and practicing their flips and spins on the trampoline. You can do the same by getting a trampoline board and finding a trampoline near you. Keep in mind that practicing flips can be dangerous, even if you’re on a trampoline.

6. Try a Balance Board

If you’re new to board sports, a balance board can help with your balance (hence the name). It's also good for improving your coordination for rails. You can start with the roller under the board, but I think that putting something like a medicine ball or similar ball under the board gives you the full benefits of using a balance board. Having said all that, I'd say that the balance board will have the least impact on the things on this list. I wouldn't recommend spending too much time on it.

You may not be on the slopes, but as you can see, there are many ways to improve your snowboarding game! Preparing for the slopes will keep you riding longer and harder throughout the winter season. For more advice, chat with me or another expert here on Curated about anything snowboarding-related! We love talking about the sport and answering your questions. Stay stoked and keep shredding that gnar!

Like this article?
Share it with your network

Written By
Noah Todd
Noah Todd
Snowboard Expert
A few years ago, my family went to Snowbird, and I fell in love with snowboarding. The powder has been calling me ever since, and I've been visiting as many resorts as possible, with the hope that one day I'll live near one. I particulary enjoy exploring the wilderness, finding more difficult terrai...
View profile

Curated experts can help

Have a question about the article you just read or want personal recommendations? Connect with a Curated expert and get free recommendations for whatever you’re looking for!

Read Next

New and Noteworthy