There is no better physical training for skiing, than skiing itself. Generally speaking, most skiers participate in the sport for just a few weeks during the entire ski season. Keeping this in mind, it should not be a big surprise that it takes most skiers more than a week of skiing to recover from the initial muscular trauma of hitting the slopes. Starting the season in “ski shape” not only makes the first days of skiing more pleasant, it will also reduce the risk of overuse and catastrophic injury.
This article is not intended to be a “be all, end all” program, but aims to provide ideas for how skiers can prepare specifically for the ski season and how you can get into “ski shape” at this time of year so that first day back on the slopes is a happy one.
All of the exercises in this article can be done easily at home and without weights. However, if you want to take your dry-land ski training more seriously, why not head down to one of our local fitness facilities and ask for help from the professional training staff to help design a personalized ski training program. This can get you ready to have the best ski season of your life. As always it is recommended that you check with your physician before starting any exercise or fitness program.
Participation or cross training in sports other than skiing can improve general fitness and will ultimately help improve your ski experience. Any activity that involves weight-bearing activity of the legs and results in an elevated heart rate for more than 30 minutes is a good place to start. Running, jogging, cycling, swimming, treadmill, elliptical, stair stepper, etc. are all great activities to prepare yourself for the impending ski season. However, to establish true “ski shape” we need to build strength and endurance in the legs and core and eventually simulate a few ski specific movements.
One Piece of exercise “equipment” I would recommend for the recreational skier is to purchase an exercise ball. There are several exercises performed on the ball that are perfect for the recreational skier and pre-season ski fitness. Depending on where you purchase the ball they run anywhere from $7 to $30. While I recommend a “burst resistant” ball the most common complaint of exercise balls in this category is a strong chemical odor. However the products in this category are no more expensive than the less durable products.
Bridge – Lie on your back with your hips and knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Press down through your feet squeezing the buttock muscles together and slowly raise your hips off the floor until your hips are straight. Keep your feet and shoulders on the floor at all times.
Ball table – Begin seated on an exercise ball, start to walk forward as you lie back and let ball roll up your back. Stop when knees are flexed to 90 degrees (knees in line with ankles, not over toes) and ball is under upper back with your head resting comfortably on the ball. Slowly squeeze your buttock muscles together lifting your hips and depressing your abdomen at the same time. This will help limit and excessive arching of the lower back. Relax the buttock and begin to walk back and roll the ball to return to start position.
Crossed extension of the ball – Lie face down over the ball. Lift one leg and the opposite arm just to the height of the body, not beyond. When lifting, keep the knee as straight as possible. Pause with arm/leg in air, and then lower slowly. Alternate arms/leg each lift.
Ball squat – Stand with the exercise ball against wall. Position the ball at the approximate height of your shoulder blades. Place your feet shoulder width apart pointing straight forward, and place hands on your hips. Stand up straight; the ball should feel as if it is gently pushing you forward. Begin by bending at hips, and bring the hips and buttocks under the ball as if to sit in chair. Stop squat when thighs are parallel to floor.
Plank – Start lying face down on the floor. Raise body up so that weight is through forearms and toes. While holding position in air, draw your navel to your spine by tightening abdominal muscles. Make sure not to raise hips too high or let hips sag to low. To transition to single leg plank just point either toe. Be sure not to lift leg. Both legs should stay at same height when in single leg plank. Also make sure pelvis stays level when in single leg plank. Progression should be 2 legs, 1 leg, 1 leg, 2 legs, rest.
This is a simple pre-season or even in-season ski workout that can get you ready for the slopes. With a few minutes a day and an inexpensive exercise device you can get yourself ready for this ski season and help prevent ski related injuries all at the same time. Since the temperature as I am writing this is 33 degrees, ski season is just around the corner!