The snowboarding season is finally here. Are you ready?
I thought I was.
But after my first days riding, I woke up with pain in muscles that I didn’t even know existed! So I thought I’d answer the question, what muscles does snowboarding work?
Snowboarding primarily works the muscles in your lower body – the hamstrings, glutes, quadriceps, calf, and shin muscles. In addition, snowboarding utilizes the abdominal and back muscles. Beginners may even find that their arm muscles become involved!
Keep reading to find out more! Alternatively, check out the snowboarding stretches I use to soothe my ageing muscles.
Muscles You Work When Snowboarding:
There’s a whole range of movements involved in snowboarding. Twisting, turning, jumping… falling over!
Snowboarding therefore works out a range of different muscles. As a result, snowboarding burns an insane amount of calories (more on that here). It’s therefore important to look after yourself, particularly the muscles which you use when riding.
Let’s look at them in more detail…
1. Core Muscles
Core muscles are found deep inside and around your torso (especially following the holiday season).
They include both your abdominal (abs) and back muscles. These (along with the spine) help you to maintain balance during intense snowboarding activities.
Core muscles include:
- The interior and exterior oblique abdominal muscles. Both oblique muscles are found on the side of your abs and help you twist and turn with ease.
- The erector spinae. This one forms part of the back muscle and helps you remain stable when bending on your snowboard.
The hamstring consists of three muscles found at the back of the thigh. They cover the area between the hip and the knee.
When you partially squat while snowboarding (which is most of the time), the hamstring stretches along the hip area and bends at the knee. This muscle also gets worked when skating on your snowboard.
Also known as the quads, these consist of the four muscles at the front of the thigh.
The quads are just as crucial as the hamstrings when moving your board, bending, and doing jumps. When you perform these activities, the quads contract along the hip area and stretch at the knee.
You’ll feel that deep quad burn when riding thick powder or mogul fields.
4. Gluteal Muscles (glutes)
The glutes are found around the bum area. These will take a beating during your first season! Consider picking up a pair of impact shorts to save yourself some pain!
The glute muscles work when you do squats while riding, stepping onto your board, or skating. You also work these muscles when you rotate your hip during turns. If you’re a beginner, you’re likely to feel some soreness around this area a day after doing a series of jumps.
5. Calf Muscles
The calf muscles are found at the back of your leg between the knee and the ankle. You’ll always work these muscles because of the angle of the boots and the binding on the snowboard (pushing your knee slightly forward).
Calf muscles also put in extra work when you do toe-edge snowboarding. In addition, these muscles help stabilize your foot, ankle, and knee movements, helping you stay balanced on the snow.
6. Tibialis Anterior
The Tibialis Anterior muscle is at the front of the shin, starting from the lower knee to the foot. It’s activated when snowboarding on the heel edge. Like the calf muscles, the Tibialis Anterior muscle stabilizes your foot, knee, and ankle movements.
7. The Arm Muscles
This includes the bicep, tricep and deltoid muscles.
Advanced riders will barely use their arm muscles when snowboarding – other than for holding onto drag lifts.
Beginner riders however tend to use their arms to push up from the snow after a fall. You should not use your arms to break a fall though! If you’re doing this, check out how to fall when snowboarding.
Beginners also sometimes use their arms to “throw” themselves from edge to edge. This usually improves over time.
8. The Tongue Muscles
Okay this ones a little “tongue in cheek”. But if you’re anything like me, your concentration face involves a lot of tongue action!
How To Train Your Snowboarding Muscles.
Now that you know what muscles snowboarding works, you also need to know how to train them!
The lack of proper training or preparation can lead to unnecessary pain and muscle damage. It’s important to exercise your quads, glutes, hamstrings, core muscles, calf, and shin muscles to strengthen them, improving stability and flexibility.
Let’s dive into the ways to train your snowboarding muscles.
1. The Hip Roll
The hip roll works the muscles around your hip and glutes, reducing the likelihood of knee pain after snowboarding.
Do the following steps for the hip roll:
- Stand on one leg.
- Lean your body forward at your hips.
- Move your other leg to the back, keeping it off the ground.
- Rotate your hip away from your standing foot, keeping your back straight.
- Repeat the ten times for each side.
You can use a chair as a prop if you feel wobbly when standing on one leg.
Squats work out your glutes, quadriceps, hamstrings, and calves. Squats also train your back muscles and can help with posture. You can do the front squat, jump squat, or bodyweight squat.
Here are a couple of detailed videos to guide you when doing squats:
- Front squats:
2. Jump squats:
Forward and backward lunges improve balance and strengthen the core muscles, hamstrings, quads, calf muscles, and glutes. The forward lunge involves stepping one leg forward, while the reverse lunge involves stepping one leg backward.
The following steps will help you to perform the forward lunge:
- Start with your legs shoulder-width apart.
- Step forward with your front leg, bending it at a ninety-degree angle.
- Return the leg to your starting position and repeat for the other leg.
One repetition involves carrying out a lunge on both legs. Repeat ten times and do two cycles. The reverse lunge involves the same motion except you step backward instead of forward.
4. The Heel and Toe Raise
Heel and toe raise exercises work out your ankles, calves, and shin muscles. This makes snowboarding on your heel and toe edge much more comfortable.
Perform the following steps to do the heel and toe raise:
- Start this exercise with your feet shoulder-width apart.
- Keep your thighs parallel to the ground, back straight, and look forward.
- Lift both heels off the ground and then lower them.
- Lift both toes and lower them.
One repetition involves one heel and toe raise. Do fifteen repetitions. Maintain a higher squat position if you can’t keep your thighs parallel to the ground when squatting.
Planks are horrible! But they are awesome for strengthening your core. Add in some leg movements and you’ll involve your quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, and calves.
To perform the plank hold with leg movements, do the following:
- Start in the push-up position.
- Bring one knee to your chest.
- Straighten it back to the start position with your toes pointing downwards.
- Bring the same leg out to the side while still pointing your toes downwards and without rotating your hips or moving side to side.
- Switch to the other leg.
6. Other Sports
Other sports are a great way to keep your snowboard muscles in shape.
Surfing helps with snowboarding and is an awesome sport for the summer season. You might also want to try swimming, yoga, biking, and weight lifting.
What muscles does snowboarding work?
The short answer – nearly all of them!
The longer answer – primarily the core and leg muscles.
It’s therefore super important to keep your muscle in check during the off-season. This will both reduce next-day soreness and increase your early-season performance.