Getting In Snowboarding Shape with Team USA’s Elena Hight

by Elena Hight

As snowboarders, most people assume that a lot of our training takes place on the snow and, to be fair, it does. We spend so many months chasing the winter season around the world every year… Gressoney-Saint-Jean, Italy; Les Deux Alps, France and more… but, actually, it involves so much more. We do a lot of training off-snow to prepare our bodies for being on the snow, especially during the off season because although we still spend time snowboarding, it’s a lot less so it’s important to keep our bodies in shape and developing in preparation for the next season.


Here are 7 key areas to focus your off-ice training on. Stick with them and, over time, you’ll definitely see a huge improvement in your snowboarding skill and prowess.




I do lots of strength training and core work, plus some gymnastics, yoga and Pilates. They develop core strength, balance and flexibility for performing manoeuvres mid-air and have definitely helped me to stay injury free. Try to stand up and focus on functional movements. Hip flexor exercises, leg lifts, medicine ball throws etc. are brilliant but I’d avoid the more static exercises (e.g. sit ups) as they won’t help as much.


Strength and agility are huge influences on strength – far more than people realise. Not only are they important for muscle- and physique-development but they also affect how the muscles develop around and support your joints, and how much power you’re able to exhibit. Snowboarding requires a wide range of movement. You to significantly bend your hips and waist so it’s important to get the balance right and develop a really strong core, without being square. That’s why a combination of yoga and weight training works so well. Jumping’s great too, especially slack lining.


This is a huge part of snowboarding – far more than people realise. Yes, you need the strength to be a good snowboarder but to be a great snowboarder requires a balance of strength and finesse. You can’t just be a powerhouse; you also have grace. Yoga has really helped me to harness that. It’s also important for injury prevention and recovery. E.g. snowboarding injuries are often knee and shoulder related, either due to over rotation, straining or the recurrent jarring and high impact of landing on the joints. Enhanced muscle quality and flexibility helps you to avoid injury because, when you’re flexible enough to be able to take falls and your muscles are resilient enough to bounce back from them, they’ll be better equipped to protect the rest of your body too.

This is a big part of my off-snow training. Competing is such a mental game. In order to confidently go out and push yourself, you need to be in a good space mentally. Meditation has really helped me with that. It centres me, giving me all of the calmness and clarity I need to be able to go out, compete and stay focused.



‘Snowboarding’s not like a typical sport where the off-snow training is very standard. So many different things can help you with snowboarding. That’s why I like it so much.’

As much a gym workouts play a role, it’s important to develop a sporty, fit body rather than a gym body. Functionality is more important than aesthetic physique. You need power, endurance, a huge range of movement, body and motion awareness and great cardio. E.g. Mountain biking is surprisingly similar to snowboarding, especially the movements of having to go around bends and perform jumps, as is surfing. That’s my favourite thing to do off-snow. It’s great for balance, cardio, waist training, core strength and more so I try to spend as much time in the water as I can.

Spotting (i.e. finding pre-selected cues whilst spinning and flipping) is vital for preventing disorientation mid-air. When you’re spinning, you’re not allowing your head to fall aimlessly; you’re constantly looking at a specific spot. (E.g. spotting lip of the half-pipe tells me how many flips I’ve done; maybe I have one more to go or should be opening up to land.) Without these cues, you’ll see sky flying by and won’t know where you, leading to disorientation, sickness and dizziness.

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