Ski Fitness - The Fundamentals

Every skier knows that skiing is a physically demanding sport. And like most skiers, as the season approaches, you think about getting in "ski" shape. So you start to jog a few miles to boost your cardio fitness, jump on the leg extension machine to get a good quad burn, and finish with some abdominal crunches. Back in the day this might have been considered good training, but things have changed. The optimal ski training program now integrates the lower body, core, and upper body in exercises that move in multiple directions: what we call ski-specific training. Let's transform an old-school training regimen into an innovative program that is designed specifically for skiing.

Old School: Jogging or Running
Jogging is a great activity for cardio development. However, steady-state jogging in a straight line is good for exactly that: steady-state effort in only one direction. Carving down a hill is more strength-oriented and involves many changes in direction. So unless your run program includes faster paced or hill segments over uneven terrain, you are not maximizing your skills for downhill skiing.

New School: Anaerobic Strength Circuit
At Ski Stronger we developed a four-minute circuit that challenges all planes of movement and looks and feels like you are skiing. By focusing on shorter bursts of intensity with minimal rest, you will feel like you skied about 2,000 feet of vertical. Check out a sample here:

Old School: Leg Extensions
The leg extension definitely burns your quads. But like running, this exercise strengthens only one plane of movement: front to back. And remember, your training needs to move in all directions. The leg extension also lacks any integration of movement with the rest of your body. By sitting down and isolating your quads, you completely eliminate your hamstrings, glutes, core, and lower legs from the exercise. The leg extension machine is a relic of the past, along with those long, narrow skis sitting in your garage.

New School: Side Lunge and Row
The Side Lunge and Row is quite possibly the best strengthening exercise for skiers. This single exercise develops strength and stability in a side-to-side motion. It integrates the upper body and the core muscles to translate to better lower-body strength and control on the hill---perfect for skiers.

Old School: Abdominal Crunches
While it is true that stomach crunches will help train your six-pack, the stomach crunch limits movement to the front-to-back direction and requires minimal stability. Skiers need stability and strength in all planes.

New school: Fit BALL Knee Tucks
The knee tuck on the Fit BALL targets the core and incorporates a skiing movement by drawing the knees towards the chest. The instability of the ball places a higher demand on the stabilizing muscles of your trunk, giving you a more complete core workout.

This article highlights the new developments in training specificity that will benefit skiers looking to improve their performance. These exercises are from Ski Stronger, The Skier's Workout, which is available on DVD and as a digital download. Visit the Ski Stronger store for more information.

Stay healthy, and we'll see you on the hill!

Coach Scott
Program Director, SKI STRONGER, The Skier's Workout

For more ski-specific training, get your SKI STRONGER video today.

All photos, video, and text are copyright of Golden Coast Productions, Inc. 2005-2011

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Disclaimer: Always consult with your physician before beginning any exercise program. The suggestions here are in no way intended to substitute for medical advice.

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