Things have a way of sneaking up on me and the family annual ski trip is one of them. In just about a month, we’ll load up the SUV with an insane amount of gear and groceries and head off into the mountains a mere 900 miles away. The whole family loves to ski and snowboard; however the distance is why this outing is an ANNUAL ski trip. After 15 to 17 hours in the car one way, the five of us have and plenty of (ahem) quality together time and are ready to get out and MOVE!
In order to get the most out of our limited amount of time on the slopes, I like to arrive as “ski fit” as possible. Since I have a solid year-round base full of running, hitting the gym and riding my stand-up paddleboard, adding in a few workouts with ski-specific exercises is all I need to prepare my body for skiing strong and longer. Effective pre-season ski training focuses on workouts that combine leg strength, explosive power, core stability, agility, balance and endurance through a variety of exercises. If you are a recreational skier or snowboarder, try my Ski Ready Workout before your next skip trip and you’ll reap the rewards — swishing down the slopes stronger and longer!
I suggest doing this cardio + strength workout 2 to 3 times per week for a month. Also, since skiing is typically an all-day activity, I’d throw in an extended hike, long run or bike ride one or two times during the month to prepare you for the extended nature of a full ski day.
Run, Bike or Row: Cardiovascular endurance isn’t just for cross country skiing, it applies to downhill skiing and snowboarding too. Seriously, have you ever tried to sidestep up the mountain to retrieve a lost pole?! Running, biking, and rowing build a strong heart and lungs while engaging the core, arms and leg muscles. Warm up for 5 minutes on your chosen gym machine (or outdoors) and then alternate a high-intensity effort for 20 seconds with a slower recovery effort of 10 seconds. Complete 8 reps of high-intensity/slow-recovery without coming to a full rest in between. Finish with 5 minutes of a cool down.
Side-to-Side Box Jumps: Executing side-to-side rather than front-to-back box jumps will tune you up for your time in the moguls. Successfully tackling a run packed with moguls requires both explosive power and agility. Box jumps are a great plyometric exercise that will keep you sharp and supple on the slopes. Standing next to a low box or platform (12”), jump up and over, landing firmly in the center of the box. Jump off the box to the opposite side; repeat. Complete 3 sets of 20 jumps.
Weighted Walking Lunges: This exercise focuses on single-leg strength, balance, and mobility in the hips, all important for skiing. To start, use a weighted straight bar resting on the shoulders Step forward into a lunge by bending the front knee to 90 degrees, taking care that front knee does not pass toes. Once your knee is bent to about 90 degrees, thigh parallel to the floor, push up and back to bring your front leg back to the starting position. Repeat with the opposite leg. Complete 3 sets of 20 lunges.
Band Walks: Step inside an exercise band, allowing it to fall to the ankles or slightly above. Stay low with knees slightly bent outward; keep hips level and chest and eyes oriented forward. Take a single step to the side, bringing opposing foot to meet at each rep. This exercise targets the glutes medius and improves hip stability, both important focus areas for jumping, landing and even just coming to a stop when skiing. Complete 3 sets of 20 steps (10 steps in each direction).
Jump Squats: Jump squats build strength-speed and explosive power, great for jumping and getting through the moguls. Plus, they also improve your cardiovascular system – just wait and see how out of breath you are at the end of a set! To start, use a lightly-weighted bar behind your shoulders, keep feet shoulder-length apart. Sit down into a squat, keeping core engaged and eyes focused forward. Jump upward, as high as possible, landing softly. Complete 3 sets of 20 reps.’
Marching Wall Sit: “Sitting Against the Wall” is a classic ski conditioning exercise because it targets the quads, important muscles used in skiing that, among many other things, help hold the downhill tucked position. This exercise kicks the quad burn up a notch by marching legs back and forth – not as easy as it looks! Place back against a flat vertical surface and slide down until knees are bent at a 90 degree angle, keep feet shoulder-width apart. Lift each knee, alternating, for 20 total lifts; complete 3 sets.
V-Ups: Strong core muscles provide a stable base to generate strength, power and balance during skiing. One of my favorite core exercises is V-ups; they are straightforward and don’t need any special equipment. To start, lie flat on the floor and stretch out arms behind head. Simultaneously flex at the hips and curl the abs to raise the legs and torso off the floor, keeping arms straight. Pause briefly at mid-point and then lower to the starting position. Complete 3 sets of 20 reps.
Okay, enough of this dry-land exercise stuff! Did you know that downhill skiing and snowboarding burns up to 400 calories per hour (although, I don’t think the time sitting in the chair lift counts)? Warm yourself up with a well-earned treat at the ski lodge or back in the cabin — I’m talking hot chocolates, hot toddies and other scrumptious apres-ski drinks. Check out these two:
Barcelona Hot Chocolate with bittersweet chocolate and espresso!
Apple Jack Hot Spiced Cider . . . made with brandy!