As we approach another Ski-Season, many will make sure that they have the latest and greatest skis, boots, bindings, parka’s, etc… but if you really want to have the best ski season possible; you should make sure that you have the best conditioned legs possible. Remember that Downhill Skiing is an anaerobic activity and if you do it right (like so many locals do), that means that you’re busting it from open-to-close on Day 1. So many people “Ski themselves into Shape”; but for the record, that’s how a lot of injuries happen. Most of us are good enough to hit the Black Diamonds (or Double Diamonds) on the first day; but there’s a significant physical challenge when doing so. It seems like a long-ways off; but NOW would be a great time to start to getting those legs ready for opening day.
Talking about Downhill Skiing for now; we need to make sure that your legs are as strong as possible, that your muscles can support the joints that may be challenged and that your endurance is adequate to keep you moving throughout the day (6 hours at high intensity). For starters; we want to select exercises that maximize strength in the Quads, Hammies and Glutes. Squats, Lunges, Leg Presses, Extensions and Curls are all good for strengthening these muscles. We also want to make sure that the stabilizers (especially those that help the ligaments to support the knee joint) are also strong. For those we want to do a variety of lateral motions and plyometrics in all different directions (especially side-to-side). Another tool that helps with stabilizers, is to work on unstable surfaces such as BOSU’s. Everything from simply standing on them to jumping onto them forwards and side-to-side. Another component to ensuring that your body is ready for the challenges that the mountain will throw at you is to make sure that your CORE is not only strong to stabilize your lower back but also to allow for maximum mobility.
Do exercises that will integrate the lower and upper bodies and coordinate the kinetic chain that is used through the entire motion. A good exercise for this is to stand on an exercise band in the middle on one foot. Grab the other end of the band with the opposite hand. Do a one-legged squat, touching the foot with the hand that’s holding the band. Then stand up and twist laterally developing balance on the one foot and connecting the lower body to the upper body on the opposite side. The band should provide some resistance, but should be more to simply engage the core while allowing for mobility from side to side. The other critical component to a successful first day on the hill is a strong anaerobic cardio-vascular system. By that first day; you should be able to perform very high intensity activity, non-stop for 3 minutes and recover within 30 seconds and repeat over and over. The first day of training, you should push very hard for 30 seconds and recover for 30 seconds and repeat for 15 different times (i.e. 5 different exercises performed 3 times each). During this first workout; quantify the amount of work that you perform and then as time goes on and you add time to the working part of the set (but not to the recovery), you’ll want to make sure that your intensity of work performed doesn’t slow down (i.e. if you get 30 steps in 30 seconds then you should be getting 60 in 60 seconds, 90 in 90 seconds etc…). Make sure that you progress enough so that by day one on the mountain that you can actually go for 180 seconds with 30 second recover and repeat that for 10 times. Go ahead and get the new goodies at the Ski Shop; but don’t forget the most important tool on a skier is their legs!
Have a great ski season!