The recent snowstorms in Denver are a reminder ski season is right around the corner. Skiing is an incredibly demanding sport requiring high levels of fitness and athleticism. As with any athletic endeavor, it is important to prepare your body for the forces and demands of the sport. A skier must have strong legs and hips so they can turn sharply on their edges, brace for impacts, and hike at high altitudes to reach the best terrain. Off season preparation drastically decreases your risk of injury and subsequent time away from the mountain, and is an integral part of every successful athlete’s program. I will provide 5 simple exercises you can do from home which will prepare your body to hit the slopes come winter.
The SAID Principle
Well accepted in the strength and conditioning world, the SAID Principle (Specific Adaptation to Imposed Demands) states training should be specific to the type of sport the athlete is preparing for. The intensity, volume, and duration of training should be tailored to the specific sport. Skiing requires a diverse mix of strength, balance, and endurance that is unparalleled in other sports. The athlete must be strong enough to dig their edges into the snow at high speeds, have the endurance to hike at altitudes above 10,000 feet, and have the balance and stability to correct body position when uneven surfaces are encountered or landing from a jump. The skier must build strong quads, hamstrings, and glutes to effectively and safely navigate the mountain. The program I outline below addresses each of these muscle groups with functional exercises specific to skiing.
Off-Season Ski Workout – perform the following sequence of exercises for 3 rounds.
Body Weight Reverse Lunge – 3 sets x 20 reps (10 each leg)
Body Weight Squat – 3 sets x 10 reps
For the body weight squat start in the standing position. Sit back as if you are sitting into a chair. Keep knees pressing slightly outwards as you descend to activate the lateral glutes. Reach arms out in front for a counter balance. Go down as far as you can while maintaining a straight spine. Do your best to keep your eyes looking forward. Muscles activated should include the glutes and quads.
Rear Foot Elevated Split Squat – 3 sets x 10 reps
For the rear foot elevated split squat, start in the standing position with the back foot resting on a chair or bench. The height of the chair should roughly be the height of your knee cap. Keeping chest up with shoulders stacked over hips, drop down, feeling a contraction in the quad and glute of the front leg. Perform 10 repetitions on one leg before switching to the other. As with the reverse lunge, incorporate contralateral arm movement.
Wall-Sit – 3 sets x 45 second hold
For the wall sit, make sure to keep your low back pressed against the wall. Doing so will force you to use primarily your quads to hold you up. The wall-sit exercise recreates the prolonged periods of partial squatting used in skiing and helps improve the athlete’s isometric muscle strength and endurance.
DNS 7 Month Side Lying Hip Get Up – 3 sets x 10 reps
For the DNS 7 month side lying hip get up start on your side with your bottom hip flexed to about 90 degrees. Begin the motion by rotating your pelvis on top of the bottom leg. You might feel a stretch in the bottom glute when you do this. Next, load all of your weight into the knee, and use the knee as a support point to bring your entire side body off of the ground. Hold at the top for 2-3 seconds before slowly coming back down. Muscle contraction should be felt in the lateral glutes and this exercise is excellent for improving frontal plane stability which is extremely important for the demands of skiing.
I recommend performing this exercise routine 3-4 times per week. You can increase the number of rounds as you gain strength and endurance and as ski season gets closer.
Post written by Dr. Riley Kulm, DC. Check out his bio here.