What’s your dry land ski training routine? If your answer primarily involves “pint-lifting” at your favorite aprés ski spot, you have your work cut out for you. Regardless, it’s never too early (or late) to begin getting in shape for ski season. In fact, efficient getting and staying fit for skiing is a year-round activity if you want to avoid injury, improve your skiing and get the most out of your ski day.
U.S. Ski Team athletes Grete Eliassen and Heather McPhie at the state-of-the-art Center of Excellence in Park City, Utah, to build an exercise routine you can do at home or in the gym. These exercises are simple but highly effective leg and core strengtheners that serve as staples of any routine.
Check out the exercises below to improve your ski fitness and enhance every moment you spend on the hill this season.
1. Band Walks
Here’s Grete’s instructions:
“Band Walks can be incorporated into your ski training and ski workouts. Mini-band walks target the gluteus medius and stabilizing muscles of the hips. This exercise is extremely important to skiers for proper landing technique and jump mechanics on the mountain.
“To complete this exercise successfully, start with a mini-band wrapped around your ankles. It’s essential to have at least five lateral yards to perform this exercise.
“Stay low in a quarter-squat position, turn your knees out and take a big sideways step followed by a halfway step with the other foot.
“Repeat the sideways stepping motion to the left for five yards and then repeat to the right for another five yards. It’s important to keep your hip level with your chest and your eyes up. If it’s working, your hips will be burning. Start with two sets of 20 steps in each direction.”
2. Back Extensions & DB Row
Here’s Grete’s “how to:”
“Most athletes think of their “core” as their six-pack abdominal muscles. However, it is also important to incorporate training for the glutes and lower back when you’re working on your core. I do the Back Extension with Dumbbell Row exercise in the preseason to target my multifidus, glutes and lower back. This exercise trains the entire posterior chain.
“Start with a back extension to target your lower back and glutes. Next, squeeze your shoulder blades and bring the dumbbells up to your sides and then lowers them in a controlled motion. Start with three sets of six repetitions with medium to heavy dumbbells.”
3. Weighted Box Squats
Heather tells you how:
“Weighted Single Leg Box Squats are a phenomenal exercise and ski workout I use uses to develop explosive strength and dynamic balance during the preseason. You can mimic this exercise at home to prepare for ski season. This routine requires heavy use of the glutes, quads, hamstrings, calves and core. This a great exercise for skiing because it requires eccentric strength (lengthening of the muscle while contracting) on the way down and good balance and control coming up.
“On one leg, slowly lower yourself down to the box. It’s important when doing this lift that your knee doesn’t cave in toward the mid-line of your body. Focus on keeping your head up, chest out and pushing through your heels. Pay particular attention to pushing with your glute. Start with three sets of eight repetitions per leg.”
4. Overhead Medicine Ball Throws
“I rely on this preseason exercise and ski workout to build explosive strength in the quads, glutes, hamstrings and lower back. Overhead Medicine Ball Throws are an alternative to Power Cleans or Weighted Squat Jumps. Overhead Medicine Ball Throws demand forceful triple extension of the hips, knees and ankles—the primary sequence to jump and produce power. This exercise is critical for explosiveness—allowing us to go into a turn and use explosion to push out with a lot of force and have velocity into the next turn.
“Holding a six-pound medicine ball from underneath, I squat down and lower the ball between my legs. Then I throw the ball up explosively as hard as I can. I focus on a big jump and push my feet through the floor. Start with four sets of four repetitions.”
5. Lateral Box Jumps
Heather explains lateral box jumps
“Lateral Box Jumps are a great preseason exercise and ski workout that I use to work on my explosion in the moguls. Try this exercise at home to bash bumps better next time you’re on the mountain. This exercise involves quick and explosive jumps while also adding the challenge of a change in direction. The goal is to maintain excellent body control while quickly jumping from side to side and up and down on the box.
“Focus on jumping up to the box and then jumping down and landing on the far side. In a swift but controlled motion, repeat the same steps as above but back in the opposite direction. Concentrate on being as fast as you can on the ground and getting in as many reps as you can in 30 seconds. Start with three sets at 30 seconds apiece for this exercise.”
Now, let’s go skiing.