No matter what your favorite way is to slide on snow—downhill skiing, snowboarding, cross-country skiing or other snow sports—the experience is a whole lot more fun if you prepare for your outdoor winter activity. Our snow season is upon us in North America, but it’s never too late to “get on the program!” Lack of time is not an excuse!
The more preparation you do in the weeks before the lifts open, the better your chances to avoid injury and fatigue. Even a 10-30 minute daily routine of push-ups, squats, side-to-side jumps or leaps, planks, lunges, core and fast front/back feet movements will provide significant improvements in agility, quickness, strength and endurance. If you can do nothing else, repeat after me: “Legs and Core!” “Legs and Core!” If anything, get those legs and gut in shape.
Pre or Early Season Preparation
Okay, it’s here! Early ski season has arrived with that “smell” of cold air, lazy snow flakes, the promise of freshies (untracked powder for those new to this addiction), and of course the total package of endless days and après ski evenings spent tucked in around a crackling fire.
But, before all of this can happen, “You cannot “suck!” and painfully regret your decision to forgo a Ski Fit program. If you haven’t done “jack” (meaning “jack sh*t in the conditioning world), now is the time to prepare your body and mind that haven’t done squat (pun intended), or “jack,” since last spring. Exhaustion, extreme soreness, or injury at the start of your dream season is a major bummer, to say the least.
Building A Complete Ski Conditioning Program
- Mobility & Warm Up
Restoring your knees, ankles, core, and hips back into winter shape won’t take much time for those who have stayed active throughout the year. Building ski/snowboard specific strength and flexibility for 2 – 4 weeks prior to hitting the slopes will help with injury prevention. Remember to work on whole body mobilizing activity at the start and end of your fitness routine or day on the slopes. The legs (quads, glutes, hamstrings) and hips (hip flexors) are obvious muscle groups to keep limber, but don’t neglect shoulder and neck stretches and mobility training — unless you plan on not falling the entire season, or staying in the resort lobby all day!Single Leg Bridge Hip Lift w/COREFX Anti burst Ball
The single leg bridge hip lift works as a “glute activator” to “turn on” or activate the hip extensor muscles prior to a workout session. Also, the core is activated as a stabilizer because of the instability of the ball and working on one leg (balance). The upper back posterior muscles (rhomboids and mid-trapezius or traps) are also activated. So, the posterior chain and core are lit up. Try this one today!
Integrated Whole Body Movement
Many facilities offer ski fitness classes, but you can also create your own effective conditioning program with minimal equipment. Traditional back squats, squat jumps, single leg box squat/step ups and lunges, represent a number of great choices. Box jump variations, including lateral box jumps are very effective. Squats of all sorts are obvious winners, with more advanced exercises like loaded one-legged squats and squat jumps provide a good conditioning effect. Plyo-type exercises like speed-skater style side-to-side leaps, box jumps, lunges, and alternating jump lunges are perfect for building power, quickness, endurance and dynamic mobility. Emphasize quickness and explosiveness off the floor. Note: With any explosive exercise, take it easy if you haven’t been particularly active. Lower-intensity options (e.g., keep the movement grounded by taking out the jump, leap or hop) will help you ease into these more complex and challenging exercises.
Equally important to overall ski fitness is developing a strong core and back. In fact, maybe it’s the foundational building block to everything you do! Planks (shorter duration rather than “forever” durations) will help you learn to turn your core on and off when being challenged by dynamic and unpredictable challenges on the hill. Suspension training core tucks, plate loaded Olympic bar rotary core exercises, BOSU Ball ankle touches and prone Supermans, as well as stability ball back/hip extensions develop strength, endurance and balance muscular development in the key trunk muscles.
Muscular Strength & Power
A solid ski fitness routine must include working against progressive load to maximize strength and power output. Adopt a new mantra if you want to ski well: “I love skiing and lifting heavy things!” Medicine ball tosses and kettle bell swings are effective ways to challenge integrated whole body movement, which teaches the body to move in a linked, rather than isolated fashion. Traditional strength training that requires the whole body to contribute from a balance, rhythm and timing perspective include Olympic and power lifts (cleans, deadlifts, squats, front squats, snatches), as well as single leg box step ups and lunges.
Anaerobic Endurance & Cardio
Interval training and sprint work can be done indoors, but getting outdoors is a nice change of pace for your mental state and motivation. Indoors—burpee variations, suicide or line/cone sprints, and lateral hurdle hops that travel forward mimic the energy system training and quickness you need on snow. Hill sprints develop explosive strength and power/endurance at lactate threshold. If you can’t run outdoors, create your “hill running” by pushing or pulling a sled. Descent running (downhill running) teaches you how to decelerate with eccentric loading (the muscle lengthens eccentrically to produce force) which transfers nicely to requirements on snow, and can build some leg strength. General cardio, performed on an indoor bike, rowing machine or slide board are perfect complements to build fitness, prep for a workout, or to recover from a day on snow or done post workout.
Now that you’ve got the understanding behind how to create a complete ski conditioning program, and buy into the mindset that there are no good excuses, and that creating a life-enhancing workout program is not inherently complex or time costly, we’re taking that next step in Part 2 by giving you the ultimate no excuses recipe, our Quick-6 Ski Workout. At this point, no “cup cakes allowed” and “no whining." Just do this; do it regularly and get on it today!
Check out Part 2, The Quick-6 Ski Workout