For a beginner or expert skier - Designed to get you slope ready for the upcoming season!
The pandemic summer is nearly over and winter is right around the corner. If you haven't yet, it’s time to make sure your legs are in shape for the season. As a former strength coach for the US Ski team I know how to prepare for skiing. Unfortunately there is no magic 10-minute ski workout. My programs always included conditioning, strength, power and balance. All of these are knee strengthening exercises for skiers and a must-have to get the best out of your season.
- Start low and slow: Building up base cardio will help your body clear waste products in your muscles during higher intensity sessions later. This is the time to spend on road bikes, trail runs, whatever extended cardio you enjoy doing (if any).
- Intervals: After you have some base cardio built up, start increasing intensities and reducing duration. This can be seen as the “mountain bike phase!” Circuits can range from 10 seconds to 4 minutes with rest equal to, double,or triple the work times. This can be done on bikes, rowers, or even sled circuits! Find some variation with these and don’t get stuck in one groove. My general rule of thumb is to mirror your conditioning volume with your strength volume. As your reps go down and intensity goes up in strength training, your conditioning should follow.
- Foundations: Whether you just started lifting, or you’re a world class weightlifter, we all need some foundational work. Even my former Olympic athletes would start their off-season with body weight leg circuits and move on to basic barbell training. Sets and reps here will range from 3-4 x 8-15 with an intensity of 50-65% of your max.
- Time under tension: Skiing and most other sports, require the ability to absorb load with your legs. This can be seen in a turn, a landing, or even through basic agility. The ability to slow yourself down will not only help reduce injury risk, but it will also help your performance. Those who can slow themself down first will inevitably be able to produce force back in the opposite direction better (a sharp turn). Spending time doing Eccentric (slow down) and isometric (pause) reps will help improve these attributes. Start with 3-8 sec Eccentric 3-5 sets x 5-10 reps. Move on to 5-30 sec isometrics 3-5 sets x 1-5 reps.
- Speed Kills - Power = Force x Acceleration: Plyometrics and heavy lifts are both needed to produce power. This will most certainly be an attribute you’ll want to train to so you can plow through the powder runs with some force. My favorite way to train power is to hit both sides of the equation in some Contrast training. Start with a heavy load (high force) and pair it with a lighter plyometric movement (acceleration). Keep the rest between sets high to produce max effort each rep usually 1-3 min, 3-6 sets x 2-5 reps. Try to keep the weight at or above 80% of your max and any weighted plyo 20-40%.
- Hip stability: Use balance exercise as part of your warm-up. Research has shown that an increase in strength and power, after balance exercises, primes the body. A lot of this comes from the hip muscles working to stabilize the body. Hip stability will not only increase power output, but also improve knee alignment and thus reduce knee injury risks. Single leg holds, eyes shut, slackline, single leg MB toss, single leg RDL...the list goes on and on. Be creative and have fun!
- 3 days per week: If this is the time you have for strength work, make each day a total body workout. Include lower body push (squat) & pull (deadlift) exercises, upper body push, pull, horizontal & vertical.
- 4 days per week: Split the days up with total body push or total body pull. An example of a total pull (Deadlift, Pull-ups, Bent Row, Bridges).
Daily Workout Plan:
- Exercise Selection: Through the week you need to cover all of your bases and use an exercise that will accomplish all of these goals. Squat, Single leg, hip hinge, hamstring, overhead push/pull, horizontal push/pull, core stability, rotation.
- How do I start?: Get the body prepped with mobility and core stability exercises, move on to dynamic movements to get the heart rate up (lunge, skip, jump). Start the workout off with the most powerful movements. If you have plyometrics or a heavy lift, start those here. Progress the workout from large muscle groups to smaller auxiliary movements with Conditioning at the end!
Hopefully you took away a few tips and now know how to get better at skiing in the off-season. Time to get prepared for skiing or snowboarding in the offseason with the aim of having a kickass 20’/21’ on the slopes!