Norona: Getting Fit for Snowmobiling

By Dave Norona, Ski-Doo brand ambassador

Absolutely the new Ski-Doo Summit snowmobile with the REV-XM platform, tMotion suspension and FlexEdge track makes riding in powder easier.  I know, because I’ve been riding them for more than a year.  And I know many of you out there want a lighter sled with lighter parts and you will spend the big dollars to do it.

But think of how much further you could go and how nimble you and your sled would be if YOU were lighter and as efficient as your sled.

For the last 19 years I have traveled the globe racing in over 400 human-powered events. My life has been one big experiment on how to go faster and further on a bike, cross-country skis, running and kayaking.

And I’ve got a fitness plan that will make your rides this winter more fun.  And it’s easier than you think.

Le vélo sur route est une excellente façon de se mettre en forme. N’ayez pas peur de porter du lycra – c’est un des mes outils de travail depuis 18 ans !!!

You don’t need to start an epic fitness program.  The secret to getting fit is not going “all out” and hammering, but rather going out hiking, mountain biking or cycling – whatever – at an easy, fat-burning pace and going for duration over speed.

If I asked anyone to go out for a 30-minute run, they usually would run at 75-85% of their maximum. Sure, it feels tough, you sweat and at the end you feel like you got a good workout in. But this pace puts you in “no man’s land” – you don’t go hard enough to improve or easy enough to get efficient.

The secret to training is doing 4 of your 5 workouts at 60% of your maximum and once a week go 90-95% of your maximum for shorter durations.

Here’s my sample weekly plan:

  • 35 minutes running, 3 times per week, easy pace/60% of your maximum heart rate;
  • 1.5 hours mountain biking, once per week, easy pace/60% of your maximum heart rate;
  • All-out interval day: warm up for 15 minutes on your bike; do 10 1-minute sprints with 1-munute of rest in between; 15 minute cool down.

Now, instead of training in “no man’s land” you are teaching your body to be efficient by doing four workouts a week at an easy pace, teaching your body to burn fat instead of sugar.  One workout a week you’re pushing your cardiovascular system.

The magic of this training is that you’ll likely lose weight, feel better, be lighter on your feet and, most of all, you won’t get as tired sledding, even after digging all day in the deep stuff.

Important Tips!

Always check with your doctor before you start working out, especially if you’re just starting a fitness program.

If you’re new to working out, start with 3 workouts at 20 minutes each (no hard efforts). Add no more than 10% per week until you are at the workout listed above. There’s no advantage to adding more faster.  If you do, you’ll likely run into injuries and sickness.

The key is to do what you enjoy. Even trials moto is a workout at 60%!

The most challenging part is to go easy on your easy days and save the hard effort for that hard day.  A heart rate monitor (about $100) with help you do this.  Or just work out at a pace where you can still hold a conversation while exercising. Yes, it feels easy!!

To me, the best ways to work out in this manner is to hike, ride a bike or run. You can also work inside on cardio machines if the weather is bad. When you go easy, this is the perfect time to take the family.  When you want to go hard, this is when you call up your favorite sledding buddies and put the smack down!

Consistency and being efficient is far more important than going fast. Just like riding a sled, the athletes who are most efficient are also the strongest. 5 shorter workouts are better than 2 or 3 longer workouts – and yes, you can get a great workout in 20 minutes!

To figure out your maximum heart rate, the easiest way is to use a heart rate monitor. Find a hill with a 5-6% uphill grade. After warming up for 15 minutes, easy run up the hill at what you feel is 75%, for 2 minutes, then walk down.  Do it again at 85%.  Then finally, go all out and at the top you will be at your maximum heart rate. Take 60% of this number for your easy workouts.  You will be shocked how easy it is.

During the season if you go out twice a week on your sled, then take off one easy day and one hard day. If you go out once per week on your sled, then

just take off the hard workout and keep all the easy workouts for weekday mornings or evenings.

A great way to add strength is to add your kid to the mix! Or carry your avy gear.

Working out with weights is a great workout.  But remember a weight workout will replace your hard cardio. A great way to improve your strength while training is to add weight. After 3 weeks of these regular easy cardio workouts, start doing them while carrying just your avalanche backpack without anything in it.  Then every week, add a different part of your avalanche gear until you are carrying your entire pack. This builds strength and gets your body ready for carrying all your gear.

Have fun! Working out is supposed to be fun so find a sport you like and a buddy and go play! Remember that your buddy is not there to push you on your  easy days!

Leave your comments and questions below and I’ll answer them!

Start with this plan now and this will be a piece of cake — umm…easy as pie – ummm…really fun this winter.

One Response to Norona: Getting Fit for Snowmobiling

  1. Nurun-Man says:

    Cool article !

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