It’s that time of year again. The bathing suits are packed away for the year and beach trips have come and gone. Now it’s time to get ready for ski season! Sure, you can buy all the finest equipment out there and stay at the finest resorts, but you can’t neglect adding some exercises into your training routine to get you in tip-top skiing shape. By focusing on movements during workouts that you will replicate while on the slopes, sport-specific training can really help you improve your skiing performance.
So, what can you start doing in the gym to become a better skier? Let’s first think about the general movements used while skiing. By taking a functional fitness approach, we can better improve our sport of choice. Let’s face it- your legs are your powerhouse when skiing. Now let’s focus on some leg exercises that help improve performance:
Split Squats- using a flat bench, place one leg behind you with foot on the bench, and the other leg in a stance as if you were wearing ski boots (think of a slight lean forward). Squat down to 90 degrees with the forward leg and repeat. Aim for three sets of twelve on each leg. If you want to add intensity, hold a pair of dumbbells. This exercise imitates skiing through rough terrain, and also helps with balance.
Stiff-legged/Romanian Deadlifts- this exercise really works the hamstrings, which are responsible for stabilizing the knee joint and helping to prevent ACL injuries. Using a barbell (standard 45 lb), load either side with a 25 plate (adjust to fit your strength needs). With a slight bend to the knee and a straight back, bend forward as if you are trying to touch your toes. Return to standing position. Really focus on feeling your hamstrings at work. Aim for 3-4 sets of 8-10.
Now that we’ve nailed some strength training exercises, what about cardio? Skiing is very much a high-demand cardiovascular sport. Here are a few ideas to incorporate into your ski training program:
Backwards Treadmill Walk- Backwards, what!? Yes, backwards! Perform this exercise by setting the speed to between 2-3 mph (based on ability) and kick up the incline. Once comfortable with walking backwards on the belt, squat to a nearly 90 degree position and continue walking. This replicates the tuck position in skiing. Shoot for 1-3 minutes. Your glutes and quads will thank you.
Squat Jumps- This is a great way to add a little plyometric and explosiveness work (key in skiing turns and skiing fast). Using just body weight, place hands out in front of your body and squat to 90 degrees. Immediately jump in the air and return to squat position. Aim for 6 sets to fatigue.
There are a plethora of exercises that focus on improving balance and coordination, explosiveness, leg strength, you name it. By identifying your weak and strong spots as a skier, you can hone in on what exercises would benefit you most. As with any fitness regimen, don’t forget to stretch. Make sure you are doing so actively (pulsing through a stretch vs just holding it static) and when your muscles are warm. Your body will thank you.