Taking action and decision-making processes towards behaviours that add quality to our capacities and abilities will positively contribute to our physical activity, sports, and health. That is a primary role of Strength & Conditioning. Long story short, improved performance and body function leads to better experiences increasing enjoyment and progression meanwhile minimizing injury risk.
Snowboarding like all physical activities, can involve a great deal of muscle tissue and have high energy demands. As you know, there are different snowboarding disciplines making snowboarding incredibly playful. Among them we can find Freestyle, Alpine, Splitboarding and Freeriding. Each one entails certain demands and different characteristics which will condition inherent activity adaptations and how we need to prepare with an Strength & Conditioning programs to optimize benefits. An approach sometimes overlooked if the goals ain’t clear, is what kind of riding style do you like, enjoy or need. This will set activity intensity, body structure an energy demands, because is not the same cruising than efficiently charge down. Each one has its beauty, but you have to be technically, psychologically and physically ready.
What is an Strength & Conditioning program?
Strength & Conditioning are programmed interventions and methodologies targeting physical or skill fitness aiming to develop a selected set of attributes. Strength & Conditioning is composed by the integration of multiple fitness attributes and its physiological adaptations to serve a purpose. Here are the 4 main benefits of an Strength & Conditioning program:
1. Improve performance and function
2. Develop systematic interventions
3. Assess performance and progression
4. Reduce injury risk
An Strength & Conditioning program is aimed to complement and work in synergy with your physical activity in order to optimize function and performance. Program load can vary depending on goals, individual, group needs, season time and athletic development stage. Overall load has to be adaptable and dynamic.
All snowboarding disciplines are demanding sports practices where a large amount of vibration is tolerated, due to gliding over a surface, and a large amount of force is generated / absorbed by muscle contraction during carving, jumping or even skinning up. As well as the involvement and necessary motor coordination for it different skills in each disciplines. It is clear enough that a planned and oriented preparation program targeting different outcomes will help us improve balance, strength, metabolism, endurance and recovery goals, and ultimately improve and push your riding at all levels.
The equation ends up being pretty simple, as much riding quality you do, the better you can get. Practice makes perfect.
What is your riding style?
As a matter of fact, in this case size, speed and time matters and is dependant on your efficiency riding at the level you are at. There is a big difference on intensity, body structure an energy demands, from riding mellow slopes to carve the them, is not the same cruising a slopestyle run than perform a high end slopestyle exercise, ain’t the same reach that simple terrain ridge once than three times, to ride steep terrain than charge down carving it….just to mention a few comparisons.
Size and speed will be, always, conditioned by gravity and in consequence its action/reaction forces. If we add skill complexity, biological performance demand will also be increased. If those intensity factors need to be maintained and performed over a long period of time, fatigue can challenge body function, structure integrity and risk exposure.
The riding spectrum is dynamic and adaptable and can vary form time to time, in the same day or even in the same run. Here are some riding patterns:
! CRUISING: Technically efficient, performance can be maintained over long periods of time, low-mid energy demand.
!! ACTIVE: Technically efficient and challenging, can be performed over time, mid-high energy demand.
!!! AGGRESSIVE: High technical challenging performance, performed over short to mid periods of time, high energy demand.
Note, that this does not accurately apply on learning and motor skill progressions, were simple movement, motor learning process and cognitive attention can develop or involve temporary inefficient motor patterns rising significantly overall energy demand.
Shredding within your capacities
The riding spectrum is applicable to all riding styles and relative to each rider capacities, skills and progression. For example in Freestyle will involve trick list progression, style and the feature size where one can execute those. In Alpine speed tolerance, turn performance, terrain reading, steepness and rivals will set the numbers on the timer. In Splitboarding the terrain to ride, its access, riding skills, snow conditions and the crew will condition your lines and adventures. Freeriding has the potential to blend all snowboarding components and being the true soul of its nature. However, that beauty of riding will be as demanding as much components you blend into the mix, increasing skill and physical performance and therefore requiring a more complex readiness or fitness profile.
Being honest with yourself, setting your goals and targets on a S.M.A.R.T. ((Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Time-bound) way will naturally set the pathway from were you are to where you wanna go. An Strength & Conditioning program will accompany your riding progression to optimize the probability of success independently if you are a first timer, a solid rider, an athlete or a professional alike.
Board mechanics and Strength & Conditioning
How you ride is directly conditioned by what you ride. In snowboarding, equipment is a key factor and very often board performance is conditioned by your Strength and Conditioning profile. Board mechanical performance is absolutely conditioned by skill acquisition, skill refinement and optimized by riders balance, strength and endurance.
Broadly speaking, when we refer to balance we talk about motor coordination, range of motion, control and joint stability. A key aspect to be efficient and have the best possible movement capacity on the board. When we talk about strength is about the muscle contractile capacity, an essential factor for movement. Optimizing and improving this will allow us to maintain and prolong joint stability, bulletproof body structural integrity and be able to ride on a higher standard. Endurance will enhance the ability to generate force over time qualitatively and quantitatively and therefore increase riding quality time.
It requires precise knowledge and years of experience to materialize a board collection where board mechanical performance not does only matches different snowboarding disciplines, it is designed to adapt its mechanics in order to optimize your riding style. Board camber, flex, torsion, turn radius, deformation, contact surface, volume, width and effective edge are some of the biggest mechanical factors. Those will influence and challenge skill and physical performance on every riding styles, riding intensity and rider body structure and energy demands. Happy turns!
Learn more about why an Exercise and Strength & Conditioning program will contribute to improve your functional capacity and fitness performances for health, injury prevention and athletics. Welcome to the #Exercisepotential.
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Why recovery is noteworthy?
About the author:
Albert Piñol – MSc in Physical Activity and Sports Science, MSc in Exercise Physiology, DHE Snowboard Coach, DE Mountain Guide and Mountain Bike Coach. Specialized in exercise physiology, hypoxia, neuromuscular system and motor skill development. IG: @albert_pinol