Ski season is about to lift off. November is the month to focus down and tune up your fall fitness before the holidays storm in, and The Feed is here with some fitness & nutrition pointers. Here in Boulder, holed away in an office park on the outskirts of town is an unassuming door where members flock to do just that. It’s the Alpine Training Center. Behind its doors is a stark concrete room, filled with rowing machines, kettlebells, weight racks, and no frills equipment designed to kick your butt.
Head of the Alpine Training Center is Connie Sciolino. Every day she whips members into winter sport shape. Connie’s philosophy is simple, through a combination of functional, varied, and intense workouts, she builds athletes to be stronger and better than they ever were. She also places a great emphasis on nutrition, hydration and most importantly, recovery. As Connie says, “It’s easy to do one big workout. Anyone can do that. But day after day after day, that’s an effort.”
After sitting down with Connie, we’ve assembled a quick training and nutrition guide to help you become mountain ready come snow time.
Focus on Building Strength & Conditioning.
The key to getting stronger, faster and better than before is not injuring yourself. This is why it’s important to develop your fundamentals first. Start with a base of general strength exercises, and then get functional for your sport. Strength exercises consist of things like Russian deadlifts, front and back squats, overhead presses, pushups, pullups and core. Use the first weeks in your training to build up to the amount of weight you can handle. Front squats are a great measure of strength and conditioning. To do one properly you must stabilize and utilize your entire core and legs. You can’t cheat your way through a front squat like you can with bad form in back squat.
Connie’s Tip: Use the early days in your training to figure out what you nutritionally need to get through different workout intensities. If you’re a morning workout person, what you eat the night before is going to make a big impact. Try having a light shake before bed, like SiS Rego Recovery with almond milk. If you workout later in the day, learn what types of foods sit well. It’s most likely that a huge meal isn’t going to sit well during an intense workout. Instead try different bars and see what works best to fuel your training: Dense bars like ProBar Meals, protein based bar like Clif Builder Bars, or lighter bars like Breeze Bars or Bobo’s Oat Bars. Learn how long before a workout you need to eat it so it won’t negatively have an impact. This is your eating window.
After you build your foundation of strength and conditioning, transition into building your power and functional techniques. This will consist of workouts full of quick twitch and bursts of energy. These are exercises like cleans, box jumps, burpees and other plyometrics.
Connie’s Tip: These workouts will not just make you feel a burn, but make you sweat. Come into these workouts well hydrated. During this phase of your training every day hydration is very important. Hydrate after your last workout, all day before your workout, and keep hydrating until you begin your workout. The better the hydrated you are, the way you won’t have to take huge gulps during the training. Before and after workouts use a low calorie hydration mix like Vega Sport Electrolyte Hydrator or CamelBak Elixir tablets. During workouts, depending on the length and intensity you may opt for a higher carb mix like Skratch Exercise Hydration.
Always Train Your Weakness.
The biggest deficiency Connie sees is in athlete’s mobility and core. If you’re someone who’s been doing one sport all Summer, chances are your mobility is limited to that sport. Your hips may be tight, maybe your core is weak, November is the time to increase your overall well-being and flexibility for life and new sport.
Connie’s Tip: Use the early weeks in your training season to get a foundation to build upon. Save technical work for later. You can skin uphill all you want, but come time to really get out there, if you don’t have the strength, conditioning and power in your legs, and lungs, your technical proficiency won’t matter.
Always Recover & Hydrate!
When you leave the ATC Connie drills into her athlete’s brains that there should be one focus: Recovery. Get protein and carbs into your system and start to rehydrate. She instructs athletes to get 200 calories of recovery into their systems within 30 minutes of working out.
Use a protein based recovery: Because winter gym workouts focus on short, intense efforts with weights, the likelihood that your glycogen stores are depleted, will be rare. However the likelihood that your muscles are shredded isn’t. You need to make sure your recovery provides your body with the protein it needs to repair and grow your muscles. And you need to hydrate. Vega Sport Protein is a great plantbased option, packing 25 grams of protein.
A recovery mix is not a substitute for a meal. Get the adequate amounts of recovery in your system within that magical 30minute window (when your blood is flowing and all the nutrients and minerals will be mainlined to your muscles), and then have a proper meal in the next 30 minutes to an hour.
Connie’s Tip: Keep a log. Note how what you eat before, during and after a workout affects your performance. If you had a bad day, look at what and when you ate. If you had no protein and you felt weak, up the protein. If you had a high protein meal and you felt great, but then totally depleted toward the end of the workout, you may need to up your carbohydrate load. If you keep notes on your workouts and your energy expenditure, you’ll be able to devise an eating plan that will keep you fit.