By Karin Krisher
If you’ve ever been to a mountain in Vermont, you know that ski-bum isn’t the appropriate term for the hardcore athletes you see streaking down the slopes. Skiing’s a serious sport. That’s why it’s incredibly important to prepare your body for its wrath with pre-ski training workouts and our top five skiing exercises.
We’ve come up with a great workout to try at least a few times before you make your first cut through powder (or, more often in our case, sheer ice). Next week, we’ll feature a snowboarding workout (skiing’s younger brother)—also a serious athletic endeavor. Be sure to always consult your healthcare practitioner before beginning any exercise program.
Our 5 Favorite Skiing Exercises
Jump rope and stretch for ten minutes to warm up. Jumping rope sounds like a fun activity, but it, like skiing, is a serious workout. Take it easy until you’re sure how it will affect you, and jump lightly. You can also incorporate a jump rope into the first of the following exercises.
Start with 4 sets of ski-jumps. Because skiing can be rough on your joints (specifically your knees and ankles) learning how to jump and make soft impact is a good training trick. Start with your feet together. Bend your knees slightly and jump to one side, then the other, keeping your knees bent. Repeat the movement 15 times for each side, focusing on keeping your knees soft when you land.
Another important aspect of keeping your joints healthy is training the muscles around them. Specifically, it’s important to strike a balance between hamstring (back of your thigh) and quadriceps (front/side of your thigh) strength in order to keep your knees in peak shape. Light leg extensions and leg curls (on machines) are a great way to build strength in these areas. Do four sets of 12-15 of each, alternating the extension set with the curl set without rest between the two exercises. Rest for one minute between each “super-set.”
Next, do 3 sets of 10 (each side) one-legged squats. To do this, stand with one leg straight and the other knee bent, not letting that foot touch the ground throughout the exercise. Bend the straight leg, squatting toward the ground and then rising back up, keeping your hips straight. (It can help to focus on each side of your hips in a mirror). This exercise improves balance and quadriceps and hamstring strength.
Finally, you can add lunges.You can try several different types to mix up the direction your knee faces, hitting all angles before ski season starts. Try reverse lunges, forward and side lunges, or lunges with a kick if you want to shake it up.
Always stretch and cool down after a workout. If you like, throwing other jump moves (plyometrics) and some cardio into the workout mix can support joint strength and endurance.
Do this workout once or twice a week until you feel ready to hit the slopes. If you’re thinking about ignoring this advice and plunging feet first into the powder with no training under your boots, then we wish you good luck. You’ll need it!
Have you ever gone skiing without training? How did you feel? Do you have a great skiing exercise we didn’t include? Tell us in a comment!