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January 12, 2010

Get an Olympic Workout

Amp up your workout or get psyched for a new winter sport with tips from six of Team USA's top Olympic contenders headed for Vancouver this month.
PLUS: Get weekly fitness and health tips by following us on Twitter at twitter.com/marieclaire!

woman snowboarding

Photo Credit: Ben Blankenburg/iStock

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THE EXPERT: Gretchen Bleiler, 28
Snowboarding began as a dude-oriented sport, but Bleiler is a pioneer for women who shred. "I push myself so I can be a role model and show women they can do it," says the Ohio native. "When I started, there weren't a lot of women snowboarders, but now, guys and girls train and travel together — snowboarding is a small and supportive community."

WOW FACTOR: Bleiler is the 2006 Olympic half-pipe silver medalist and 2008 X Games half-pipe gold-medal winner.

WANNA TRY IT? If you've never boarded before, "the first two days are tough — you'll fall a lot," says Bleiler. Give yourself a week and "absolutely take a lesson. There are simple things a coach can tell you that a friend won't know." If you get banged up, she recommends putting Dr. Hauschka Ouch! Aid Arnica Compresses directly on the bruise.

PRO MOVES: Snowboarders slam into the ground a lot, so to prevent injury they have to strengthen every muscle. Knee injuries are common, making leg workouts key. "Slow-burning stuff builds proper muscles," says Bleiler. She does single-leg dead lifts with a 20-pound barbell to fire up her hamstrings, glutes, and back. Here's how: Stand with feet hip-width apart and hold the barbell in both hands. Keep a straight back, balance on one leg, and slowly bend down like you're placing the barbell on the ground. Before you touch the floor, slowly straighten back up to standing. Bleiler does three sets of 20 on each leg.

TAKE THE STAIRS: You don't even need a gym to copy Bleiler's endurance workout — she jogs a mile to a nearby park, runs a set of stairs up and down six times, then jogs back. "Snowboarders need explosive power. Quick sprints up stairs mimic an explosive half-pipe run."

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