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Functional Training Is the Best Way to Prepare for Extreme Sports

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Functional Training Is the Best Way to Prepare for Extreme Sports

How do you train for skiing or snowboarding when snow covered mountains aren’t outside your back door? What options do you have to train for winter sports, or other extreme sports when you go to the gym?

The answer: functional training.

Functional training, a growing fitness trend, is multi-directional training, as opposed to the fixed, one-direction motion of most fitness machines in the gym. Functional training involves using movement patterns that are within the scope of the activity for which you are training and works multiple muscle groups at one time, rather than focusing on one muscle group at a time.

“When training for a specific sport, functional training movements complement the movement of the sport or activity,” explained Christian Mazur, Cooper Fitness Center Professional Fitness Trainer. In functional training, you might begin with some assistance to stabilize you, slowly removing those aids, creating less stability. Doing so allows you to test yourself—skills, balance, etc.—in a controlled environment before performing that particular sport or activity at full speed and in real time.

“Skiing and snowboarding both work on the principal of lateral movement while maintaining a high level of dexterity within feet and legs,” said Mazur. “The better you can mimic these things in the training environment by using different apparatuses that might challenge your balance, but never trying to exceed your ability too quickly—the better you’ll be when you hit the slopes.”

Functional training tests your neurological ability and the motor pattern you are trying to train. “It’s very individualized,” Mazur said. “What I can do is different than what others can do.”

Some functional training exercises that might be used to train for sports like surfing, skiing and snowboarding include the exercises below.

  • Burpees. Doing burpees trains the body to quickly pop off a surface, a skill used by surfers. The quicker the landing, the less displacement there will be on the board. 
  • Lunges. Lunge patterns are one of the most important patterns to maintain to keep from falling in a sport like skiing. Lunges also help work the dexterity of the feet.
  • Agility ladders. Build your confidence, sure-footedness and dexterity of the feet with agility ladders.
  • Running. Get off the beaten path and run in the grass or on unstable ground where you’ll give yourself a new sensory input than while running on a paved sidewalk. 

“Too many people get stuck in their routine and never challenge themselves,” said Mazur. “Challenging neurological patterns teaches the body to perform various activities and motions simultaneously.”

Whether or not you have plans to go skiing this season, get out of your comfort zone and change things up in the gym with functional training. You might be surprised just how well your body responds to a change of pace and movement. Watch a video with Christian demonstrating functional training using battle ropes at Cooper Fitness Center.

For information on Professional Training at Cooper Fitness Center, visit

Article provided by Cooper Aerobics Marketing and Communications.