As with virtually all extreme sports at the professional level, keeping one’s body in peak physical condition is critical for executing all of the maneuvers and tricks necessary for a great performance. Snowboarding is no exception to this rule, and in fact it is one of the most physically intensive extreme sports out there. Understanding how the professionals in snowboarding manage to keep their bodies in the kind of condition necessary for winning events and competitions out on the slopes can provide valuable insights to novice and intermediate snowboarders who are trying to improve.
Since the absence of a high functioning body metabolism and effective strength can make for poor snowboarding performance, professional boarders are always striving to fine tune and improve their methods for eating right and staying in shape. While some may assume that snowboarding fitness and diet are similar to any sport, this is true in some aspects but there are elements of snowboarding conditioning that are unique to the sport. In order to help amateur snowboarders of all levels improve their riding, we will now share some of the conditioning secrets of the professional snowboarders competing currently in today’s pro circuits and events.
• Men’s Snowboarding: Travis Rice
Travis Rice is a professional snowboarder at the top of his game. As anyone can imagine, this does not happen by accident. Travis is in his 30’s now, and according to him, the older he gets the more he feels his injuries and the general wear and tear on his body. Because of this, Travis is always trying to develop ways to improve his fitness and nutrition regimen for the purpose of fortifying his body and mind as he continues snowboarding professionally into middle age. Whether it is hiking up into choice backcountry locations, or handling heavy landings off massive jumps, Travis Rice’s body is constantly taking punishment while snowboarding.
When it comes to his philosophy on snowboarding fitness, stretching and yoga play a major role in keeping his body flexible and more resistant to injury. Travis Rice practices a specific type of yoga known as Jivamukti yoga. He makes sure to begin each day in the morning with a ten-minute yoga session, and this helps to improve circulation, breathing, and overall body resilience. Another primary focus for Travis Rice in his snowboarding nutrition, fitness, and health is to always remember to stay hydrated. While it may be easy to overlook or underestimate the importance of staying hydrated as an elite athlete, for Travis Rice it is absolutely critical. He feels that when his body is optimally hydrated, he is able to perform better and his muscles feel more lubricated and move smoothly.
Additionally, hydration allows Travis to recover faster from training or events, which can be game changing when you are practicing and competing as much as he is. For dealing with back pain, Travis focuses on doing Pilates and other core work, and to open up his shoulders and improve posture he finds that surfing is the perfect way of achieving postural improvements. Travis also puts a major emphasis on the importance of pre-season training and conditioning, since heading into the season with a well-conditioned physique is something that can prevent injuries and improve overall performance.
With regard to nutritional regimentation, Travis makes a point of avoiding red meats and tries to only eat organic foods. In addition to a largely organic diet, he also uses nutritional supplements to ensure that his body is receiving all of the key building blocks it needs to perform at a high level. Since injury prevention is so important to an extreme athlete like Travis Rice, he works on ways to fall more efficiently and effectively for the purpose of avoiding serious injuries. His technique for falling is to always maintain momentum through an fall, rather than simply hitting the ground and stopping with a thud. In terms of physics, a static fall where the momentum of the rider stops all at once is always going to cause much more damage to the body than a fall where the momentum is slowly brought down to zero.
• Women’s Snowboarding: Kaitlyn Farrington
For the women’s professional snowboarding category, Kaitlyn Farrington is such a talented rider that she has even been an Olympic competitor as well as competing in smaller professional events as well. As with virtually all high-level professional athletes, her perspectives on how best to stay fit and vital are different from other athletes. Given that everyone’s body is different, it follows that each competitor will have different preferences on how best to condition their body and stay in peak physical condition. Some people may actually be quite surprised by some of Kaitlyn’s fitness and nutrition strategies, since some of them are certainly a bit less than conventional. From Dew Tour Mountain Championships, to becoming a gold medalist at the Sochi Olympics, Kaitlyn Farrington is a snowboarder who has definitely earned the right to be called an elite athlete. By finding out a bit about how she trains and conditions herself, perhaps some other up and coming snowboarders can improve their own strategies.
Beginning with nutrition, it is already easy to see how Farrington is different from many of her more strict competitors since she loves to eat things like candy, cupcakes, and cookies. She has a nutritional philosophy that is actually similar to her exercise philosophy, which can both be characterized by a desire to not take things to seriously. She feels that keeping stress levels low by not putting too much pressure on herself to eat all the right things, and work out the perfect way at the exact right time, actually help her fitness and performance much more than if she is stressing over how to be perfect. Her philosophy actually makes plenty of sense if you understand just how intense professional snowboarding is. With all the nerves and risks embedded into high-level snowboarding competition, no competitor needs any more stresses than they already have. All of these perspectives tie in quite well with Kaitlyn Farrington’s beliefs about success, which hold that one must indeed be fearless if they wish to attain high levels of success in anything they do.
Kaitlyn’s fitness and conditioning strategies during the season are somewhat different than many other riders, in the sense that she is almost never in the gym. She is, however, on the snow six days a week during the season, and according to her that is more than enough to condition her body and get her tired out. Farrington’s personal experience with trying to visit the gym during the season has never been very constructive for her. She feels that it adds too much of an unnecessary strain on her body and only adds to recovery times which are already long enough, in her opinion. The only time she ever uses the gym during off-season, or in season, is to strengthen up her legs with a variety of resistance exercises. Her belief, and likely one shared by many of her competitors, is that by maintaining strength in the legs everything else will follow.
Farrington keenly understands the importance of maintaining muscle mass, and how keeping her muscles strong will prevent injuries and allow her to spring up more quickly after a fall. With fitness, nutrition, and her overall snowboarding style, Kaitlyn Farrington is always all about having fun and keeping things relaxed. When she feels relaxed and stress free, her best snowboarding skills are expressed. To reinforce the stress free notion, she tends to always imagine that her major competitive runs are merely practice runs, and according to her that helps a lot with nerves and the stress of major competitions.
While she does allow herself the kinds of junk foods and comfort foods that may be frowned upon by other athletes at her level, she also incorporates certain foods that deliver vital nutrients to her body. Her favorite way of making sure she is getting proper nutrition is through juicing, which involves throwing her favorite fruits and veggies in a blender and creating a health-delivering smoothie. Typically, her favorite blends for this kind of nutrition smoothie are ginger, carrots, beets, and celery. This kind of nutritional delivery system is perfect for a stress-free, hassle-free personality like Kaitlyn Farrington’s, and she is likely to stick with it.
Although Farrington is generally one to avoid the gym, she does utilize a basic gym-free workout regimen, which breaks down into five basic exercises. The first exercise she typically will perform is the pistol squat. This maneuver is designed to strengthen the legs, and it is a slightly unconventional squat form. Next is the hamstring curl, which can be achieved with no more equipment than a mat and an exercise ball. This exercise is particularly important since it is another one that strengthens the legs, which are perhaps the most important muscles for a snowboarder to develop. The third exercise in her no-gym workout is the medicine ball slam, which helps considerably in terms of strengthening and toning up core muscles like abs and obliques.
After that comes the Russian twist, followed up finally by the plank. From Kaitlyn’s workout style, we can see that she likes to keep things relatively simple, and prefers to avoid gyms altogether. Keeping workouts simple like this helps to avoid overtraining, and keeps muscles toned and strong without becoming overworked or inflamed. Anyone who is working on becoming a better snowboarder can learn a lot from Kaitlyn Farrington. Her low stress, keep-it-simple attitude about nutrition and training are likely a major secret in her success as a professional snowboarding athlete.