Today’s reader question:
I go snowboarding for about a week each year and my legs tend to cramp up and get tired easily. Is this normal? Is this because of my poor technique or my equipment? Will it go away?
Firstly, this is totally normal, so let’s talk about this more:
1) Everyone gets tired legs at first
Unless you workout regularly (eg – gym 3 times a week), you’re going to feel it during your first week on snow. This is totally normal, because snowboarding works out a lot of stabilising muscles that you don’t normally use in day to day life.
Not to mention you’re constantly bending your knees and squatting during the day, so your quads and hamstrings are going to be worked hard if you do a full day on the slopes.
The only people who ride full days and don’t get tired/cramped legs during the first week of the season are people who work out regularly and do a lot of core and balance exercises.
Dead legs are something that is very, very common among most snowboarders at the start of the season, so don’t feel like you’re the only one.
2) Technique does make you more/less tired
Technique WILL play a role in how tired you get.
I ride with housemates all the time and the beginners will get tired far quicker because they’re having to strain and push their body to get their snowboard to do what they want.
At the end of the day, technique does help and you do get more efficient with your body movements as you improve your snowboarding, so don’t be surprised if you find certain runs getting easier/less tiring to ride the better you become at snowboarding.
That said, don’t assume good technique will make you superman either. I rode down peak to creek early this season (longest run in Whistler), and my legs were definitely burning during that run.
A good snowboard run can and will make your legs burn on a big powder day.
Improving snowboard fitness by snowboarding more
Okay, so here’s the easy way to improve your riding fitness if you don’t want to go to the gym. Ready for it? Snowboard more.
Literally it’s that simple. Right now you’re getting tired because you’re snowboarding for 1 week each season and your body never has time to adapt and adjust. If you do more riding, your body naturally adjusts and gets stronger.
It’s called ‘riding fitness‘ and it’s why people doing a full snowboard season don’t get as tired after the first week or two on the ski slopes. Their body adjusts and gets stronger without them doing anything else besides snowboarding regularly.
For example, I didn’t get cramped legs (thanks gym!) at the start of the season, but my legs were tired after a full day during opening week. Now we’re in month 2+ of the season and I can ride all day just fine.
My gym routine and everything else stayed the same and that endurance came from just snowboarding 5-6 days a week. So while I still suggest going to the gym (it sucks, but it has to be done), your legs will also naturally become stronger and more stable if you snowboard regularly.
Try spending more then a week on the slopes each season and after that you won’t be cramping up and having dead legs at the end of every day. Heck, it’s as good an excuse as any to go snowboard more :p
ps – I’ll say it again, I still highly recommend working out regularly. I know it sucks, I hate it too, but you get huge benefits from having a strong core. Riding longer and being less injury prone are benefits that are well worth the time you spend in the gym.