Are you excited for winter and hitting those snowy trails with your snowshoes? It’s important that you start conditioning your body now for the unique demands of snowshoeing movement. Remember, snowshoeing will be quite different from hiking. You’ll have full snow gear on and it’s added weight.
Along with the snowshoes themselves and your winter boots this can add up to several additional pounds. Add this to the unique movement of snowshoeing and you’ll start to see why conditioning is so important and will help you have that much more fun on the trails once the snow flies.
To get in shape for snowshoeing, we recommend a mix of hiking, core work, body weight exercises, weighted step ups and cable machine movements for the hips. Instead of being sore and miserable after your first day on the trails, you’ll instead be ready and excited for your next outing thanks to your new found fitness.
To help you train, we’ve prepared a few strategies utilized by many other successful snowshoers to make for a great season. You can use any of these training exercises to prepare for snowshoeing or to keep yourself in peak physical condition during the days when there is no snow outside.
While it might seem a bit silly to start preparing for the snowshoeing season when the weather is still warm outside, the things you do now will help you attain your goals later. After all, you want to make it easy to do your favorite hobby, and you need to get into shape to do that.
6 Steps To Getting In Shape For Snowshoeing:
There are many people that use snowshoeing as a cross-training workout to use in between a more preferred hobby like running, hiking, or cycling. That’s because snowshoeing gets you in such great physical shape, and benefits people that focus on other sporting activities.
Whether you use snowshoeing to prepare for another sporting activity or if you’re an avid snowshoer, you know you’ll need to get fit for the new season.
Let’s dive in to the exercises and recommended cross training…
1. Go Hiking With Poles and A Weighted Backpack On Hilly Terrain
One of the best ways you can get into shape for the snowshoeing season is hiking. During the offseason, hiking is a fantastic activity that will keep you in great shape and get you to the point where you want to be. Hiking is also an enjoyable activity to do outdoors.
However, your access to hiking will depend a lot on where you live. However, if you can’t hike or you’d instead do something else, some trail run, bike ride, or hard cardio session at your gym will help get you prepared.
If you want to make sure you are in great physical shape for snowshoeing, then hiking is one of the best off-season activities you can perform. Hiking helps build up endurance levels in a way that resembles snowshoeing. While the difference in snow will make it more challenging to hike in the winter season, you’ll get plenty of cardio and endurance in when you hike.
If you are out of shape, then start slowly building up your hikes. Take regular hikes around the neighborhood to start. As you notice your endurance growing, start hitting harder trails. After you accomplish that, you’ll need to think about weighing yourself down more for your hikes to help you prepare for snowshoeing.
Start adding some extra weight to your pack or use weights on your feet to build up the muscles you’ll need for snowshoeing. You need to make sure you weigh yourself down to help mimic the extra strength you’ll need to build up to quickly get through the snow with your snowshoes.
It can be challenging to find the time to get into the right kind of shape for snowshoeing when there isn’t enough snow, you can’t hike with an elevation gain, or you don’t have the free time to hike when you want.
Since we understand you might not be able to get outside and hike to prepare for the winter snowshoeing season, we have other exercises you can work on, too that will help you get in shape. So, if you’re working out more at the gym or when you are home to get into shape, consider some of the exercises below.
2. Strengthen Your Core
While it’s reasonable to forget about building up your core when you’re a hiker or a snowshoer, your center is one of the most critical parts of your body when it comes to strength training. If you do a lot of snowshoeing and you carry a heavy pack, you’ll need a strong core to balance out the weight that’s on your back.
Building up your core will make it easier for you to do everyday tasks as well, like bending over. You’ll also gain more balance when you are trekking on steep terrain.
To build up core strength, we recommend a series of planks and bridges. Another helpful exercise is using a large Pilates ball and performing crunches on the ball. Of course, you can also perform regular sit-ups or use your Pilates ball for them.
3. Do Body Weight Leg Exercises
Another vital area of the body that you’ll want in peak physical condition for snowshoeing is your legs. If you have any experience using snowshoes when the snow is wet and deep, then you know how important it is to have those legs in great shape.
Leg exercises you can perform at home to get your legs up to par include squats, squat variations, and lunges. All of these exercises are great not only for strength training but to build up the strength of your thighs and glutes. If your thighs and glutes are in great shape, you won’t have a problem snowshoeing.
4. Mimic Snowshoeing With Ankle Weighted Step-Ups
Another great exercise to perform to get your legs in great shape for snowshoeing is ankle weight step-ups. To complete this exercise, get a pair of ankle weights or a pair of heavy winter boots. Either way, you want to create resistance as if you are walking through the snow.
Then, grab a pair of dumbbells and stand with one foot on a raised step. Using your hip, bring your other foot up while you stand on the initial foot. Complete the action by stepping back down. Complete a set with one leg, then move onto the other leg and repeat.
5. Find a Cable Machine at the Gym To Strengthen Your Hip Flexion
This exercise will get you picking up your legs with resistance so that you work out your hip flexors. Although your hip flexors are an essential part of prepping for snowshoeing, many snowshoers forget to work out this area of muscles.
Start by placing an ankle strap on your ankle and the low pulley on a cable machine. Turn your back to the device. Then, lift the knee of the leg that’s attached towards the front of yourself. Keep your balance and go back to the original position. Do one set on one leg, and then repeat and do another set with your other leg.
6. Create A Plan (6 to 8 Weeks from Winter Season)
You have many options when it comes to starting a training plan and prepping for snowshoeing. A simple training plan for those planning to workout at home or the gym should comprise of some laborious cardio exercise, like running on the treadmill, at least three times a week to start.
You should try to build your training to up to five days a week of hard cardio, if possible. You want to make sure you’ve built up plenty of endurance to perform snowshoeing smoothly.
Next, you’ll need to factor in your core strength exercises, bodyweight leg exercises, ankle weight step-ups, and cable machine hip flexion exercise. You should start with your core strength exercises three times a week so that you’ll get strength for carrying your pack in your core and back.
We recommend performing your bodyweight leg exercises and alternating with the ankle weight step-up exercises every other time you exercise. You should complete the cable machine hip flexion exercise three times a week.
If you want to do more training, you can also add additional strength work and use weights while you are at the gym or working out at home. Any exercises that focus on the quads and hip flexors help snowshoers achieve top physical condition. You can use specific movements with weights to hit muscles and target certain muscle groups. Or, you can use the squat and lunge movements we suggested above.
You’ll also need to keep in mind that snowshoers find having good upper body and core strength assists with endurance. Snowshoeing requires carrying a pack so you’ll need to be able to feel okay weighed down while walking uphill in the snow. So, focusing on the core as well as the upper body, will help.
You can work out your upper body with lighter weights to help create endurance. Also, pushups and pull-ups work well to build up that upper body strength.
If you are the type of snowshoer that likes to use poles, then we also recommend you walk or run with them often before snowshoeing. You need to get used to picking yourself up and carrying yourself easily with the poles, so making sure you bring them with you and use them on your walks, runs, or hikes can not only help upper body strength but make your pole usage more accurate when you are snowshoeing.
As a longtime outdoor enthusiast, Dr. Krisitna Nelson has long enjoyed writing about outdoor hobbies and nature. She’s lived in several communities that have outdoor enthusiast clubs, and she has written about outdoor equipment and products for several years.