Stand side-on to a puddle. Jump across width-ways on your outside leg, landing on your other leg, and jump back to and fro. Bend your knees to enable you to spring. “In icy conditions these are known as skater hops,” says Grantham. “They are great for single-leg stability and strength, which help with changes of direction.”
Let’s face it: if it snows or you’re going skiing, you’re probably going to be doing this anyway. Make a bunch of snowballs and then let battle commence. Says Grantham: “This is great for working on agility, developing rapid reaction and movement as you try to avoid getting hit.”
More after the break
Find a large puddle – if it’s icy be careful – and stand at one end, feet slightly apart. Take off with both feet, swinging your arms and bending your knees to drive yourself over the puddle before landing on both feet. “This is good to develop horizontal power, which helps with your initial 3-5 strides of acceleration in a match,” adds Grantham.
Putting up the flood barriers provides physical benefits, too. “Having to constantly stabilise your body as the sand – and the weight – moves around will give you a full workout,” explains Grantham, who counts elite basketball players and the RFU among his clients.
Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and your back straight. Swing the axe above your head and let it rip! “Cutting wood for the fire is a great rotational exercise, working the upper and lower body as well as the core,” says our conditioning coach.
Heavy going lunges
Find a boggy area of the ground. Step forward with one leg, bend and descend until your other knee nearly touches the ground, then proceed forward with the other leg and repeat. As Grantham says, “This will help improve your explosive power, helped by the ground’s resistance.”
Load up the shovel, rotate one way and launch the snow in one direction, then repeat, rotating the other way. Soil works, too. “As anybody who’s done a bit of digging knows, this is a full body workout, good for working the whole core,” says Grantham, a former strength and conditioning coach at the English Institute of Sport.
Holding a log across your shoulders, keep your back and neck straight, squat and stand up. Take care to stay balanced. “This exercise will work the whole body – even better if you are carrying the log over to the fire,” explains Grantham, who has trained Olympic athletes.
Get your kids, somebody else’s kids, or even just something heavy on the sled, tow them 20 metres, turn around and repeat. “This lower-body exercise can be done even if doesn’t snow,” says Grantham. “It is a good exercise to build up acceleration.”
Cars aplenty get stuck in the mud or snow at this time of year – do your bit and help to push them out. “Keep a 45-degree body angle and drive hard with each stride, fully extending each leg. Like a sprinter flying out of the blocks, this is really good for your acceleration.”
Our expert says: “You can do all or some of these exercises in a circuit if you like. Otherwise, when using an external load, try lifting something that makes 10 repetitions challenging. For the other exercises, work for 40 seconds and rest for 20 between each set. Do as many sets as you can manage.”
Nick Grantham is the author of The Strength & Conditioning Bible: How to Train Like an Athlete