Best Off-Season Exercises for Snowmobile Readiness

Keep your human machine working
Cole Wilford encourages off-season workouts to keep in shape for safe winter snowmobile rides or racing.
Cole Wilford encourages off-season workouts to keep in shape for safe, fun winter rides, or racing.
As a top athlete in the snowmobile industry, the demands of the riding season are rigorous. Competing on the RMSHA Hillclimb Circuit and traveling across the western United States, Canada and South America requires a high level of fitness.

I train my body to withstand the long grueling hours of travel, followed by the demands of time behind the bars pounding through a racecourse, or all day on the mountain slaying tree lines on the steep slopes of the Rocky Mountains.
Cole Wilford weight lifting top 10 snowmobile off-season exercises
Cole Wilford snowmobile racing fitness
■ Train off-season
The best way to maintain my peak level of fitness throughout the riding season is to stay just as active and engaged in my training in the off season. Mountain biking is my passion that helps keep my focus throughout the off months. Like riding a snowmobile, my time spent on my mountain bike is my fun time. It’s also what I use to gauge the level of performance my body can put out due to my time spent in the gym. It’s crucial to have that activity that allows me to reward myself and see the progress made through the benefits of my training regimen.

Gym time is the strength and conditioning element that stays constant for me. I train using Tru Fit; much like Cross Fit, it’s a high-intensity workout with short periods of rest.

This type of training focuses on compound lifts that cross over to the movements, strength and endurance needed in riding a snowmobile, mountain bike, dirt bike etc. I can’t stress enough, the importance of incorporating both disciplines into your fitness training. Together, with a healthy diet, your strength and endurance can be maintained all year.

Cole Wilford’s credentials include: pro backcountry rider, guide for Burandt’s Backcountry, sponsored Klim backcountry team member, pro RMSHA racer, World Champion Hillclimber.
Cole Wilford top 10 snowmobile off-season exercises
My Top 10 Off-Season Exercises
(in no particular order)
  1. Rowing and running to build those lungs
  2. Dead lifts for leg, back and grip strength
  3. Pull-ups for upper body strength and grip endurance
  4. Squats to build leg muscles
  5. Power cleans and snatches for delivering full body movement and power to move weight
  6. Burpees -- yep, they build lungs too
  7. Toes to bar develops strong core
  8. Jump rope, because, did I mention, it’s important to have strong lungs for tough days on the sled
  9. Muscle ups to prove you’re a machine, plus it feels oh so good
  10. Yep, you guessed it … a healthy diet to fuel your body, because you can't outwork a bad diet
Shelley Balls, registered dietitian/nutritionist, pro backcountry snowmobiler and hillclimber
Keep your body moving!

Physically getting ready for sled season can cover a variety of different activities based on the type of riding you enjoy. Sidehilling in the trees will work your body differently than snocross or riding in the Iron Dog Race. Staying active in the off-season is a great way to improve your riding skills in winter. It also will help reduce the fatigue and soreness you may feel after the season’s first ride! Staying active year-round also reduces the risk of injuries by strengthening your muscles and bones.


The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommends 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity and muscle-strengthening exercises on two or more days each week. This breaks down to at least 30 minutes of physical activity five days a week. The good news is snowmobiling is a healthy activity that can contribute to your 150 minutes each week!

• Helps prevent eight types of cancer (bladder, breast, colon, endometrium, esophagus, kidney, stomach, and lung)
• Reduces the risk of: dementia (including Alzheimer’s disease), all causes of mortality, heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, Type 2 diabetes, depression
• Improves: bone health, physical function, quality of life


Cardiovascular: These are exercises that raise your heart and breathing rates. They are important for mountain snowmobiling as you may often be riding in high elevations that naturally make it harder to breathe. Cardio also will increase your endurance for long trail rides. Consider the following for your off-season regimen: Cycling, running, swimming, rowing, elliptical trainer, stepping machine, treadmill, hiking, speed walking, etc.

Muscle-Strengthening: These are exercises that build muscle and develop strong bones. Consider the following: Lifting free weights, using a weight machine, body-weight exercises like: push-ups, pull-ups, squats, lunges, burpees, triceps dips and core exercises.

Stretching: Stretching helps keep muscles healthy and flexible providing your joints a full range of motion. Inactivity can lead to tight, shortened muscles that are unable to extend fully, which can cause injury when suddenly shocked into activity. Regular stretching helps to reduce joint injury, pain and possible muscle strains and damage.

Don’t forget that nutrition also plays a key role in overall performance. Fueling your body with nutritious foods before and after your workouts or physical activity will help you perform to your best ability both on and off the snowmobile.

Additionally, you should make your off-season workouts as enjoyable as possible.

Find something you look forward to doing that keeps you in shape at the same time. Outdoor activities such as dirt biking, mountain biking and trail biking will help keep you in shape and at the same time develop your riding skills.

Remember to stay in shape all year, for in-season riding fun.

Shelley Balls’ credentials include: registered dietitian/nutritionist, licensed dietitian, pro backcountry rider, World-Champion Hillclimber. You can follow her on social
media! Instagram: @sballs17 Facebook: @shelleyballs17

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