What Muscles Are Used When Snowshoeing?


So you just had your first snowshoeing session yesterday, and now your entire body is burning in pain, but what about your legs? Those two had it tough, and there is a chance you can barely move them. As your whole body is screaming for help, you start to wonder, “ugh… what muscles are even used when you go snowshoeing?”, do not despair, here we have the answer to that as well the benefits of this sport and some exercises to help you build strength so going snowshoeing is not that challenging for your muscles.

During a snowshoeing session, the muscles that do the hard work are quads, hamstrings, and calf muscles. As you need to find balance; you will be working the whole body, especially your core. If you’re using poles to help you snowshoe, you’ll be using your arm muscles as well.

After mentioning the primary muscles used when snowshoeing, we list below all the muscles used based on the conditions and accessories you might use. Here we give you two lists of the muscles used, one for the legs and the other for the upper body, which includes chest, arms, and back.

Muscles Used When Snowshoeing

With the simple fact of using snowshoes, you are already working some serious muscles; these are:

  • Hip flexors
  • Abductors
  • Hamstrings
  • Hip Rotators
  • Quadriceps
  • Glutes
  • Calves

If you decide to use poles, you will engage even more the upper body muscles; besides the resistance the pull off when trying to keep the balance in the snow, some of the muscles you will use are:

  • Forearms
  • Traps
  • Triceps
  • Biceps
  • Deltoids
  • Pectorals
  • Abdomen

Here’s a quick how-to snowshoe video so you can see how all your muscles will be used:

Benefits of snowshoeing.

Besides snowshoeing becoming really popular lately, so you will not be alone, and you can join a snowshoeing group, it has some other good benefits.

Snowshoeing is a good way of burning calories during the winter.

This snow sport can burn even more calories than walking or running at the same pace. The reason is that it is a more intense aerobic workout as you have to lift your legs more than usual to walk through the snow.

Additionally, your body will be working extra hard to keep you warm in the cold, resulting in even more calories burnt. Depending on the trail’s toughness and how fast you are walking, you could even burn 900 calories in a matter of one hour.

Fewer risks of injuries due to being a low-impact workout.

It is the perfect workout for every age and physical condition as it goes easy on your knees. Besides that, you also do not have to rush; you can walk at your own pace without struggling that much.

Also, snow works as a kind of cushion, so it absorbs some of the impacts of the steps. Not to mention that you can choose the difficulty of this sport; if you want to burn some calories without making a huge effort, try to go snowshoeing on a flat surface.

The best cardiovascular exercise during winter.

Doctors recommend doing some cardio workouts for 20 to 60 minutes, a minimum of three times a week, but it is preferred to do it every day. Snowshoeing engages both, heart and lungs.

Due to the extra effort of keeping balance and lifting your knees more than when walking, it hits on a totally different level, and even more if you practice this sport at a high altitude.

This workout helps the body to produce more red blood cells, and it is a pretty good exercise to prevent some heart diseases.

Full body workout that needs no experience.

Snowshoeing involves the whole body due to the movements you do. It does not work with just the legs’ muscles. It also engages your core and upper body as you need to keep balance while walking on the snow; some even compare this sport with running as you need to rely more on your core than on gravity to stay in balance.

Your upper body could also be more engaged when using poles. What is best is that you do not need experience to start; all of the necessary abilities required to go snowshoeing you already have, you just need to buy the essential gear, and you will be good to go.

Perfect therapy and “me time.”

This activity is perfect for getting in contact with yourself if you prefer to be alone. It can be quiet and, depending on the conditions, and you might hear birds singing and some other sounds of mother nature. You can use this time to think, clear your mind, and find some peace.

Exercises to prepare for snowshoeing.

Starting a new sport can be tough and challenging, but it does not have to be mission impossible. So here we collected the best workouts to prepare you for your new adventure; these exercises can also be used to maintain your physical condition in-between seasons.

1. Step-ups with weight.

You will need something solid to step on; even a stair could work, and a pair of dumbbells or a pair of objects with the same weight.

To perform this exercise, grab the dumbells and position yourself in front of the object you will step on.

Once you are placed, step up with one foot and then the other, then you will step back down, do around 2 or 3 sets of 10-15 repetitions for each leg, to see better results.

2. Jump squats.

These are pretty much the same as a regular squat. Legs are shoulder-width apart, and you will do the squat until your legs form a 90-degree angle; it is also valid to go deeper.

When going up, do it as soon as you get down, and instead of doing it normally, you will end with a jump.

3. Walking lunges.

This exercise could also include some weight. To perform this workout, starting from a standing position, step forward with your right foot, a little further than usual, and then go down until the left leg’s knee is almost touching the floor.

Make sure the legs form a 90-degree angle. Then make the left foot meet the right one.

Repeat this movement, starting with the left foot. Repeat this ten times with each leg in two sets.

4. Sumo squats.

This one is almost like a regular squat, but the difference is that you have to stand with your legs a bit wider. Hold your hands up to your chest, go down as deep as a usual squat, and hold this position for around 30 seconds.

You can start by holding for 15 seconds and increasing when you feel it is necessary.

5. Planks.

It is also important to start engaging your core and upper body, and doing planks will strengthen them, which will help you keep the balance when snowshoeing.

To perform this, start by lying on the floor with your face down. With your arms set in a shoulder-width, push up lying on your forearms and toes. Make sure your body looks like a straight line. Hold this position for 30 seconds and repeat three to five times.

Final thoughts

Snowshoeing has many benefits, but you can just practice it during winter or in a snowy environment, so you must keep your physical condition between seasons.

The exercises mentioned above can help you keep your body in optimal condition for the next time you hit the trails. All of them will strengthen your legs, and with the planks, engaging your core and upper body muscles will help you keep up with the snow and maintain your balance all the time.

Robert Sampson

I'm Robert Sampson and I live in Colorado where I spend a lot of time in the backyard with my family either grilling, playing games and sports, or working on a project to make our backyard a better place to be.

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