Work Out Like: A Pro Snowboarder

Saugus native and pro-snowboarder Jonathan Cheever shows us how to train like we're on Team USA.

Jonathan CheeverJonathan Cheever at work. Photo provided. More photos below.

Jonathan Cheever is a likable guy. It’s not often we meet a fit pro-snowboarder whose website headline (proudly) reads: “I’m a plumber from Boston and I ride for Team USA.” The sometimes-plumber and current pro-snowboarder has been in the gym every day training for the ongoing test events for the Winter 2014 Olympics in Sochi, Russia. Some of the events have  been cancelled due to a lack of snow (hopefully this isn’t a sign of things to come). So if Cheever can’t get on the slopes, you can find him in the gym. When he first went pro, he clocked more hours in the gym than any other member of the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Team, and he’s not slowing down anytime soon.

So, what is simple key to working out like a pro-snowboarder? Cheever says it’s all about putting in hard work. Here’s how to do it:

Workout priority move: Strength training helps burn fat and get you fit.

“My in-season workouts are about two hours long. I focus on strength. Many people don’t realize that with your super-heavy strength workouts, when you’re firing your biggest muscles, like back squats, or bench-press or dead lifts, your body is actually burning fat even when you’re done working out. Cardio isn’t the only way to burn fat. Although you do need great cardio, do those super-heavy strength workouts if you want to get fit.”

For an intense muscle burn: Olympic-level “snatch” lifting.

“Do back-squats, and then dead-lifts – you want to fire the really heavy muscles. You can’t really go hard at the gym unless you’re doing back-squats and dead-lifts. Once I’m close to a competition, the strength workouts are more power-based. I’ll do Olympic weight-lifts like a snatch. For the snatch, you want to be bent over like you were about to do a dead-lift, except you’re looking for more power. So, knees in front of the toes, arms are straight, and there’s just enough tension on the bar. Once you start lifting the weight, it’s supposed to be an explosive movement. So, it starts off in the glutes and the hamstrings, and again, arms are always straight, stand up fast, and as soon as your legs are at full extension, you want to do a hip thrust and the bar will lift up high.”

When in doubt, and with every work-out: Stick with the classics.

“I’ll usually add pull-ups to my workouts. A lot of people don’t realize you can mix-up the pace of pull-ups for different results. If you want to do them super-fast, you’re going to have more of an explosive workout. If you slow them down, you’re really going to get a deep muscle burn. And a lot of the classic workouts are the best. Push-ups help a lot, and there’s countless push-up variations to try. For me the closer I get to a competition, the more I focus on low rep, explosive workouts. The further I am away, the more I focus on strength.”

Cheever’s Boston-area gym: Everett’s Total Performance Sports.

“Total Performance Sports in Everett on Vine Street is my spot. I train in Park City in Utah most of the year. But when I’m back here, when I’m visiting my friends and my family, I’m with the guys at TPS. That place is awesome. It’s a strongman gym. I don’t think there’s any mirrors or anything on the wall. I think the only problem with it is, everyone there has a beard and I can’t grow any facial hair.”

What to listen to while you train: Elvis Presley

“I like to listen to Elvis when I work out. I’ve always liked old music, and his music is faster than a lot of it. I can’t tell you why, but I just get pumped up to Elvis.”

Snowboarder secret: You don’t have to be coordinated to be fit (unless you’re Lindsey Jacobellis).

“The funny thing too is that if you go to play catch, you know, baseball, with the guys on my snowboard team, they throw like girls! No offense. Except for Lindsey Jacobellis, she’s an X-games medalist, and she’s probably one of the better athletes on the team. She doesn’t throw like a girl.”

Insider tip to staying fit: Warm up with active stretching.

“Warming up is key, and warming up properly. Every warm-up I do is going to involve active stretching where I’m moving around, not being static. You also need to always core work-outs. There’s not a whole lot of secrets behind being fit, you just have to put in the work. I’m in the gym a ton and it’s because I’m motivated to win. Drinking powders or doing quick fixes isn’t going to make anybody strong. The best thing to do is to put in the work and dedication.”

Jonathan CheeverLots of gym time helps on the slopes. Photo of Jonathan Cheever in action provided.

Jonathan Cheever Team USAPhoto of Jonathan Cheever competing provided.