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The seasons will change soon, and it’s time to start prepping our bodies for skiing. But what do you do when you’re not quite ready to trade your outdoor summertime sports for the gym?
To that end, we crafted this quick workout that you can do anywhere, anytime—after your trail run, mountain bike ride, or climb. This way you can stay in summer-sport mode until the flakes start flying.
But first, a few notes about some common fitness issues skiers face.
Balance is key and no, I’m not talking about your ability to walk a slackline or mastery of the Bongo Board. I’m talking about the strength balance between your quads and posterior chain. For most of us, our quads are dominant while our hamstrings and glutes don’t live up to their full potential. We get away with poor hamstring and glute strength way more than we ought to. Among other effects, tight hamstrings put a ton of stress on your knees (which can lead to injury) and cause lower back pain. (Read more on ski injury prevention here and injury rehab here.)
If you do a lot of cycling, trail running or peak bagging, chances are you’ve allowed your quads to become your go-to strength tool, and your hammies could use a little love. This is especially true of anyone who sits daily for extended periods. (We’re looking at you, desk jockeys.)
Too often when I talk about core strength people immediately think six-pack abs. While your abs are certainly part of your core (and one often mistaken as a defining factor of fitness), they are a small part of the complex sets of muscles that support and control the torso. Our legs and arms can do whatever we’re asking of them, but the core is the base from which all movement emanates. Think about it this way, would you rather jump from a hardwood table or a hammock? If the platform isn’t strong and stable, it is hard to generate much strength and power.
Flexibility—the ability of your muscles to stretch—is important. But you can have too much of a good thing, i.e., if you over-stretch a rubber band, it loses its elasticity. I now focus on mobility. Mobility is the ability of a joint to move through its full range of motion without restriction or discomfort. Mobility takes the focus away from individual muscles and puts it on the entire joint. I don’t do much static stretching before or after training sessions; I prefer movement to warm and cool the system.
Now, onto the workout. Performing this simple circuit three to four times a week shouldn’t make you overly sore or tired. It should complement your regular summer recreational activities. All you need is a little space and a watch (I use an interval app on my phone).
Primal movements: Do two rounds of each movement. I like to go 10 yards or so for each. These will warm you up, move your body through a full range of motion, and increase mobility. (Here’s a video below that walks you through each movement.)
This is a body weight circuit that shouldn’t take more than five to 10 minutes per round. The idea is not to rest until after the entire circuit is complete. Depending on your fitness level, time available, and how hard you want to work, I recommend at least two rounds and even up to 10. I do this three or four times, especially when traveling.
The circuit below starts at 1:17 in the video above. To track improvement, record your time for one round and watch it decrease over time. This circuit is designed to strengthen the posterior chain, help it to wake up and fire properly, increase cardiovascular capacity, and strengthen and stabilize the core.
Rest 60-90 seconds between circuits.
The most neglected part of most workouts is the cool-down. Take a five-minute walk, move through some yoga poses and/or spend a few minutes foam rolling. A proper cool-down is critical to the body’s ability to recover fully from exertion.
At the end of the day, as much as I enjoy skiing, I find it a lot more fun when I’m not fighting my own fatigue and soreness. Hopefully this helps prep you for ski season without taking away from what’s left of your summer fun.
Missed the window for summer ski prep? Check out this 6-week guide to ski fitness.
Article by Jake Hutchinson
Jake has spent more than 25 years working as an avalanche professional. He is currently a lead instructor for the American Avalanche Institute, an avalanche dog handler and trainer, and an avalanche safety consultant to the resort and rescue communities. Off the snow, Hutchinson is a certified instructor and former head of instructor and seminar development for Gym Jones in Salt Lake City. He is currently involved in private personal training with an emphasis on high level functional fitness for mountain and military athletes.