Get ready for winter weather sports

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photoExplosive squat

Snow, snow, snow on the mountains. For many of us in the Northwest, the only thing that can get us through the wet months that lay ahead is knowing that if it's raining down here, it's snowing in the mountains!

Because skiing and boarding is such a blast, most of us forget that they are both very intense sports requiring musculoskeletal strength and endurance, cardiovascular fitness, power, flexibility, balance, coordination and agility. All the twisting, jumping, and bashing through the bumps can lead to injuries if your body isn't ready for it — besides if you're not fit, you may risk an embarrassing performance.

Well, this year is going to be different. No longer will you be forced to suffer the humiliation of holding up the rear. And say goodbye to all those post-ski aches and pains. This year you're setting the pace — let's just see if your friends can keep up with you.

After a light warm-up, do these exercises below 3 times per week on alternating days. Do each of the four exercises for one minute with a 30 second table top in between each exercise. That will take you about 6 minutes. Take a 2 minute break, and then do it again. It will only take you 15 minutes, but it should be a fast-paced, intense workout to make it count. Be sure to fit in some running or power walking, stair-climbing, skipping rope or cycling on alternate days for optimal conditioning. These sport-specific exercises will involve a lot of very intense and high-impact movements. Please feel free to omit or modify any of the movements by removing any jumping or movement patterns that do not feel comfortable to you.

Explosive squats: Position your feet about hip or shoulder width apart. Keep your knees caps facing forward and your body weight equally distributed on all four corners of your feet. Now slowly squat down until your upper thighs are parallel to the floor and then quickly explode upward, jumping into the air. Upon landing, be sure to bend your knees to assist in the absorption of impact. Continue for 60 seconds.

Lateral agility drill: Position two cones or props a few feet apart. Now quickly step laterally to the outside of one cone and back to the outside of the other touching down toward the floor on each end. Try to go as fast as you possibly can. Continue for 60 seconds.

Power lunges: Start with one foot in front of the other in a staggered lunge stance. Now quickly jump up, unloading and switching feet. Do this, alternating leg positions, for 60 seconds.

Jumps over the step: Stand on one side of a step or box. Slowly jump over the step, side-to-side, for one minute. You can perform one-legged or two-legged jumps or a combination of both.

Table tops: Perform a 30-second table top in between each of the exercises below. Lay on your stomach propped up onto your elbows. Position your elbows so they are underneath your shoulders. Lift your body up so your weight is completely supported on your elbows and toes. Keep your abdominals contracted and your back in a neutral position, and remember to breathe comfortably.

Sherri McMillan, M.Sc. is the owner of Northwest Personal Training in downtown Vancouver. She can be reached at www.nwPersonalTraining.com or www.ShapeupwithSherri.com.