Does the mention of winter hiking and snowshoes excite you? If yes, then it’s high time you got fit in readiness for your snowshoeing adventures; snowshoeing season is close.
Snowshoeing demands special levels of body fitness and endurance; the long hikes through varying terrain types plus the heavy snow gear you will bring along can be draining for a weakly prepared self.
Your body weight, the snowshoes themselves, the winter boots, and anyother essential gear choose to carry will weigh you down, this is why proper strength training to condition your body for the task ahead are crucial.
So, How Do You Get In Shape For Snowshoeing?
We recommend a blend of the main muscle-strengthening exercises. These include; hiking, bodyweight management exercises, steps ups, and maybe cable machines- these serve the hips very well.
With your body in shape, you’ll enjoy the outings more and won’t have to deal with the sores and body aches that come after your first day in the wild.
In this article, we’ve outlined four of the most effective exercises for snowshoeing enthusiasts. These workout combinations have been utilized by high-performing snowshoers all around the world and the results observed have been remarkable.
You can employ them to arm your muscles for the tough terrains and heavy snowshoes or to simply keep fit; keeping your physical condition at its peak in the summer is not so bad.
Performing snowshoeing-related exercises in summer or autumn might seem odd but remember; the earlier you start preparing, the more fit you’ll be when the time comes. So, yes, working out in the sun can be overwhelming but it’s the price you gotta pay to enjoy your much-loved hobby without it taking a toll on your muscles.
Which Muscles Get Worked When Snowshoeing?
Well, the answer depends on the way you snowshoe; if you choose to do it without poles then most of the push will come from the legs while if you do it with the poles, the upper body muscles will do most of the work.
Snowshoers who use poles will employ muscles like the traps, biceps, forearms, lats, and abdomen among others.
The no-poles lot, on the other hand, will need to work on lower body muscles like the calves, quadriceps, abductors, hamstrings, and tibialis anterior just to mention a few.
Exercises To Get You In Shape For Snowshoeing
Snowshoeing is itself a form of workout but you’ll need a readied body to get through the ‘’white mountains’’. This activity is a recommended cross-training fitness routine in the winter or when other forms like cycling and downhill skiing are not so desirable.
So, whether you are snowshoeing as part of your training for a different sport or you simply love walking in the snowy outdoors, below are a few exercises you can try out to improve your core strength and ready for the hills and slopes.
Step Ups (Weighted)
For this, you’ll need a stepping platform like a log or short stool, a pair of dumbbells and maybe two ankle weights. Place your arms by your side while holding the dumbbells, and walk to the step-up surface. Here, maintain a standing position directly facing the platform.
Now, get on the platform, one foot after the other, and then come back down- you can start with the left foot or the right foot. Do it 30 times; 3 sets of 10 each- frequent weighted step ups should deliver the required impact.
This form of exercise stresses the same muscles you’d use to get through the snowy terrain in a snowshoe trip. The role of the dumbbells is to inflict fatigue and create a realistic snowshoeing experience where there is a lot of arm use.
The up-and-down movement helps you strengthen your glutes, hamstrings, and quads- as we said, these muscles play a key role in snowshoeing.
Position your feet adequately apart (shoulder width) and go halfway down or up to where your knees make a 90-degree angle and try to jump. Your arms should hang freely on the side and you should not hold the 90 degrees position for long before jumping.
It’s an all-organ affair so even your hands have a role to play; swing them up and have the fingertips reach as high as your jump height- this increases the impact and helps with the momentum as well.
This workout equips your muscles with the necessary resilience to get through powdery snow banks. The most affected muscles are the calves, hamstrings, glutes, and quads.
Research shows that at least three months of squat jumping can greatly increase muscle power in the affected areas and also improve stabilization all of which are geared towards less daunting snowshoe adventures.
Stand straight, make step forward with either foot and go down to a somehow kneeling position where the bending knee will make a 90-degree angle while the other will not touch the ground.
Reverse this position by bringing the straight foot forward and then alternate the feet; bend the previously free foot to stress it as well.
Walking lunges help to get your muscles used to constant straining; this helps a lot when snowshoeing.
You can try walking as you perform the lunges; this will increase the impact. The best-served muscles in this case are the leg stabilizing muscles and the main muscle groups in the legs (glutes, quads, and hamstrings).
If you are doing it indoors or in limited space, walking might not be possible- a little creativity will come in handy; try doing it on a slow treadmill or something like that.
Lastly, if you can add dumbbells to your walking lunges routine, even better as this will increase the load and in turn build stronger muscles.
Cable Hip Flexion
You can perform cable hip flexion exercises with a cable machine or simply your body weight. If you go the cable machine way, we recommend a lower-resistance cuff. Place it around your ankle and move back just far enough for the tension pulling. Remember to place your feet hip-width apart.
When in position, lift one knee up to the hip level or a little lower- maintain an upright posture and remember to watch your balance. Next, lower the knee down in a controlled manner- the resistance cuff will pull you back but we need you to maintain a straight line down until your toes can touch the floor.
Now, do the same for the other leg. For each, we recommend 2 sets of 10 lifts each.
If you’re doing it for the first time, you can avoid the resistance tools at the beginning and maybe use a chair to support yourself. If you can make the lifts and keep the movements under control then the benefits for you are guaranteed.
This exercise helps your body reduce the stiffness in the hips; this will not only help you move more easily in your snowshoes but also eliminate possible injuries.
Snowshoeing Vs Walking- Benefits
Walking and snowshoeing have a lot in common and both have their unique health benefits. If performed correctly, these exercises can have numerous positive effects on the body; they can help burn calories, build muscle strength, improve mental health and deter chronic diseases.
These exercises employ the same body muscles although the intensity needs can vary. If you are looking for a worthy workout option, we’ll list below the benefits you can derive from each and maybe you can decide from there.
You do this on a regular basis, walking is among the most basic leg exercises that anyone can try out and it’s very safe. You start with moderate distances like a mile or two and increase it as time goes by.
You can do your walking on a treadmill or elliptical machine although we recommend outdoor walking as it comes with varying terrains which help push your resilience.
A well-designed pair of walking shoes is about all you need to get started. The brand or type you choose will affect your experience, so get a good one; it should have flexible soles, ankle support, and some cushioning where it’s needed.
Lastly, if you can do one mile in 30 minutes, you’ll be able to burn at least 204 calories. The figure is higher for snowshoeing but 204 is not so bad. You can increase the number by carrying some extra weight on your back to increase resistance or opting for a more steep terrain.
Unlike walking, snowshoeing will strain your muscles more and it’ll be harder than you think to do a mile. To stress it more, persons with underlying health issues are advised to start below the one-mile mark.
Another difference between walking and snowshoeing is that you can’t snowshoe indoors. You gotta get out and into the snowy weather. The good thing though is that you can do it anywhere; in front of your house, in a public park, or in the wild.
This exercise can be termed as low-impact as it borrows much from walking in the execution but as the terrain gets steeper, the intensity on your hip flexors and quadriceps will increase.
For the calories question, one mile of snowshoeing can burn you around 475 calories if you can do the mile in less than 30 minutes.
Is Snowshoeing A Good Workout?
Yes, snowshoeing is a good exercise to add to your workout routine. It has served many active sportsmen over the years; its focus on muscle building and endurance enhancement has made it very convenient.
In this section, we will look at the benefits of snowshoeing and tell you why it is worth your free time.
You Get To Burn Calories
High-intensity snowshoeing can help your body burn up to 1000 calories an hour. This is why very many people looking to lose weight prefer to snowshoe their way to healthy bodies.
If walking alone can burn up to 360 calories in one hour imagine how much you could burn if you climbed steep hills with snowshoes on your feet- you can burn up to 450 calories.
Do you know what’s even better? There are simple but very effective ways to bump up this figure; you can increase the speed, change to more challenging terrain or add an extra load onto your back. These tactics will require extra effort but they can move the calories figure from 450 to 700 in no time.
The numbers are tempting but we must say, it takes a lot of effort and endurance to get through a mile of powdery snow.
It Builds Low-Impact Muscles
Looking for a basic but workable way to build your hamstrings, calves, and quadriceps? Snowshoeing is the best bet. If you do it with poles, the impact can reach your arms, shoulders, and back too.
This exercise works for almost everyone, even those with knee problems- the snow acts as a cushion on which you land lightly.
It Exposes You To Fresh Air
Did you know that fresh air reduces stress? Well, it does and you can’t get fresh air indoors, you gotta get out. Snowshoeing offers a worthwhile reason you leave the comfort of your home; research proves that exercising outdoors helps your body relax.
The gym is fun, with all the facilities and equipment but we advise that you create some space in your routine for snowshoeing- if you can, do it in the wild; experience nature first hand.
It’s A Full Body Workout
Snowshoeing is the perfect all-muscles exercise; it serves even the tiniest of muscles. A mile or two every day will put you further ahead than you’d be if you opted for other less demanding exercises.
It exposes you to different and unpredictable conditions, this way your entire body will be ready for anything at any time.
As a workout, snowshoeing is worthwhile on many fronts; it serves the main muscles and contributes greatly to improving your balancing strength.
It Is A Cardiovascular Exercise
Being an aerobic activity, snowshoeing helps get your heart to work harder. This improves blood circulation to the various muscles and lungs. Better blood flow means more oxygen supply to vital body organs- this is crucial in attaining better body functioning.
Better blood flow gets oxygen to where it is needed and when it is needed reduces the chances of cardiovascular diseases manifesting.
There are numerous exercises you can perform to get your body in shape for the snowshoeing season. They range from squats and lunges to step ups; the effort-demand might be high but the health benefits associated with snowshoeing are worth the sweat.
Besides, you can’t expect to get through a mile of snow with a weak body; your colleagues might have to carry you back home.
The article above is a detailed guide you can employ to build a result-oriented workout routine to prepare your body for snowshoeing or earn yourself a healthier life.