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You’re never adequately prepared when you hit the slopes for the first time every season. There are so many specific muscles that haven’t been activated since your last ride the previous season. Here are several exercises to trick your body into thinking you’re skiing and get you fresh and ready for the first day of the season. Get into a routine with these exercises and watch your confidence shine when you hit the slopes.
The squat is probably the most basic as well as the most apparent ski training exercise. Your thighs are the hardest working muscles when skiing. Skiing is like one extended squat exercise.
Remember, to have perfect form, your legs should be shoulder-width apart, and you need to slowly bend your knees until they are parallel to the ground. If you notice that your knees extend in front of your toes you’re doing it wrong and need to retract your hips slightly.
If you feel that you’re not getting enough burn out of a set of regular squats, don’t do more, or do them faster. Instead, add a weight to each hand, and maintain perfect form to get the best out of the simple squat routine.
A good routine to start with is three sets of 10 with a decent 45-second break in between. Extend this to four sets of 20 before you need to add additional weights. There is very little chance of getting injured from a squat movement so that you can push yourself with this exercise.
See also: Why do I get so tired skiing?
It still is possibly one of the most reviled of all exercises known to man, and there are two aspects to the burpee that you need to take into account.
Firstly, they are quite technical, and the most crucial element of the burpee is the perfect form. Secondly, when perfected and included in your daily routine, they do so much more than make you fit for skiing. It is one of the greatest workouts for skiing, but it also stretches, and opens up stiff areas and helps you work on your balance.
The burpee takes a little time to perfect. It is considered an advanced calisthenics move, so it’s essential to take your time and perform them with proper form to avoid injury. You also need to understand that to perform it flawlessly, there needs to be a flow and smoothness in the transition.
Starting from a push-up position, the most technical aspect of the move is the very first transition from stretched out. You need to quickly jump your feet forward until they are next to your hands, and that movement can cause some strain on a stiff back and spine.
Burpees work your thighs and glutes and build up your skiing muscles as well as some fast-twitch reactions. Even 20 a day is extremely helpful in your quest to be skiing fit, but more than that would be extremely beneficial.
If you were stuck indoors and urgently needed to train for a running race, the best way to do this would be by executing perfect-form lunges, and enough of them to work up a full sweat. It’s not that hard to break out into a sweat if you do them correctly and at a slightly heightened pace.
Lunges activate all the big muscles in your thighs and glutes, and the most effective in doing a moderate workout indoors, in a relatively short time. Proficiency in lunges means a level of overall fitness and a level of specific ski fitness.
Lunges are great for strength as well as balance, but they do need to be done with good form. The two things that are probably most important for skiing and snowboarding are strength as well as balance. You need to align your body correctly over one foot, and this means your balance needs to be spot-on, and it gets better with practice.
You need to begin with your feet held together. Then you need to smoothly step either leg forward and bend. The front leg should now form a right angle. At this stage, your other (back) leg should be your back leg should just about touching the floor. Try to do 15 repetitions three times for a start with a short rest in between each set.
The best tip is to keep your upper body straight. Your shoulders should be back and relaxed, with your chin pointed up. It is important to try and keep your core engaged at all times.
4. The Plank
Strength emanates from your core. If you have a strong core, you have power and potency when skiing, mainly focused around your lower back and abs. The only way to get a strong core is to activate the core muscles, and the best and smoothest exercise to do this is the Plank.
The Plank is simple, and it can be done anywhere, from your room to the beach to the hotel to the gym. It should form a part of every skier’s training program, and it should be something that is a focal point of your ski conditioning.
To start, you need to lie on the floor. You should rest your elbows on the floor and gently lift your hips. You can only rest on your elbows and toes. It’s a challenge, but you need to hold that position for at least 60 seconds for the Plank to have an effect.
Remember, do not let your hips dip. Make sure that your body forms a parallel line when in the air. There are different versions of the Plank, from side planks to extended planks and the reverse plank.
See also: How to protect your knees while skiing
While many consider the humble sit-up outdated and old-fashioned, nothing can beat it for a good core workout and as an addition to your routine. It might have gone out of fashion with all the new-age ideology to fitness, but it still does the job.
The fully extended sit-up can be painful on your back and spine, and the general trend is more towards the crunch, but a full sit-up works all your ab muscles from top to bottom.
If you are going to do the fully extended sit-up routine, then it is a good idea to either hook your feet under a bar or some support. You could even have a friend hold your feet down.
If you have an inclined sit-up bench, then various crunches with different inclines are needed to get your abs in shape and make your core strong. Sit-ups also can be done anywhere in the world, and there is never an excuse for not getting your share of this exercise done on your build-up towards the ski season.
Bonus 1: Cardio
Let’s not forget the good old cardio workout. It’s not going to be enough to get you ready for the ski season, but it does make you more confident.
The most straightforward cardio program to get your teeth into is the good old jogging program. It should always be part of your exercise routine to get you prepared for that first big powder run. All you need is some trainers and a pair of socks. With that, you’re good to go anywhere in the world.
Short, faster runs of up to 5 km is what you need to get going and work your body for training for the slopes. Long runs up to a half marathon distance are also good and provide extra stamina and determination, both essential qualities for a skier, but further than that you start running a risk of long-term injuries to knees and feet.
If you have a good road bike or mountain bike, both are excellent forms of training, and sea kayaking is also a good workout to put you in good stead for the ski season.
Bonus 2: Yoga
Often overlooked, a stretching program is essential for any fitness program, to help muscles stretch and grow. On top of this, skiing requires a certain level of flexibility to enable you to absorb bumps and protect yourself from injury. It’s mild, and it’s therapeutic, and everyone can benefit from yoga, not just skiers or snowboarders. It releases tension, and it creates peace.
Many online yoga courses are free, and there are several classes and studios all over the world. There are even personal yoga trainers, in-studio or online, who can talk you through the basics and get you going.
Yoga is part stretching, part resistance, and part self-discipline, and it takes a long time before you start seeing results. It is the one training aspect for skiing that you need to start well in advance but that you need to keep doing. If you stop yoga, your body soon tightens up again, making skiing that much more challenging.
If you work out a superset, picking out a few of the exercises listed above, and combine it with a cardio workout on alternative days, you’ll be good and ready for a ski season, or even to keep going during a busy season on the slopes. Combine it with a few yoga sessions, and you’ll be winning.
NewToSki.com is where over 1 million people a year come to learn more about skiing. I share everything I wish someone had told me when I was learning to ski. My name is Simon & I've been skiing since 2005. This winter, our family is taking a 3-month camper ski trip across the Alps. If you enjoy our articles, please join the free email club. We'd love to have you.
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