Wilderness Sports Conditioning
Train Today for
Preparing for Ski Season
Are you ready for the slopes? If not, you still have time to prepare. Once you've fully recovered from intense summer and fall activities, it's time to resume general conditioning at a moderate intensity and muscular endurance training for your legs and core. Here, we've included a few targeted exercises that will help every snow fan -- from snowboarders, to snowshoers, to telemark, downhill, and cross country skiers.
Downhill Skiing and Snowboarding
Here are two exercises designed to help you build muscular endurance in the thighs, particularly the quadriceps, which are heavily involved in skiing and snowboarding. If you have never tried these exercises, you might want to start out only using your own body weight for resistance, then add dumbbells in each hand, dangled by your sides, close to the wall. Another option would be to increase the length of time you spend in each paused position. Start with 10 second holds, then build to up 15-20 seconds, or increase the number of sets that you complete.
Sliding Paused Wall Squat
This 3-picture series shows how to perform the wall squat. Start with feet forward and lower about 6 inches, hold position for 10 seconds. Lower another 6-10 inches, hold 10 seconds. Repeat until you have lowered 5-6 times for a total of a minute, until your thighs are just below parallel to the ground.
1 1/4 Dumbbell Squats
Keep feet close together, back flat, chest lifted, dumbbell in each hand. Squat down as low as your range of motion will allow you to go, press up about 6 inches (1/4 of your total range), lower back down to lowest position, then press all the way back to standing.
This is an excellent muscular endurance builder for the quadriceps, especially if you pause for a second at the lowest position, again at 1/4, and once more at the lowest position. Keep legs close together to best mimic the stance you'd have on skis as you swish down the mountain. If you can, try to work through full range of motion by squatting all the way down so your heels touch your butt, but keep your heels flat on the floor at all times.
Cross Country and Telemark Skiing
These two single-limb dominant strength exercises are perfect for cross-country or telemark skiers whose legs (and arms) will be moving independently (as opposed to downhill skiers, who hopefully have their skis parallel and close together, arms in front for ideal poling.) The walking lunge can be done in short strides (knee to heel) for telemark skiers, or long (knees at right angles, shown below) for cross country skiers in order to optimize hip flexor stretch and quad strength. The side lunges will help you strengthen the hip and leg muscles involved in propelling you uphill in wide V-strokes. Play around with all variations to see what feels best for you.
Side Lunge with Dumbbells
Hold dumbbells in front of the body, on shoulders, or at hips. Stand with feet wide apart, toes turned out and knees tracking directly over the toes. Lunge side to side, keeping torso upright, and hips opened wide. Alternate sides, or do one side at a time. Work up to 3 sets of 12.
To perform these, hold a dumbbell in each hand and find an area (outside, in a hall, or along one side of a room) where you can walk forward 8-10 paces, lunging as shown below. Keep torso upright, and drop back knee to just above the floor (you'll be up on the toes of the leg that's behind.). If you feel any discomfort in the knees, try to keep the knees behind the shoelaces, as shown, so you end up with right angles to both knees. If you have no problems with your knees, feel free to work through the full range of motion: drop your butt down to the front heel, maximizing stretch in all muscles including the hip flexors and quadriceps (but keep heel down flat on the floor.) Increase weight to progress, but keep strict form throughout each repetition. Do 3 sets of 8 paces, increasing to 3 sets of 16 (down the hall and back, with time only to change directions.)