Most skiers simply ski themselves into ski shape. But there’s no question you can make the transition to winter easier by preparing your body in advance, especially if you commit a little thought to what you’re working and why.
This list offers a few proven fitness-focused ways you can fast forward your fitness. Start small; 20 or 30 minutes of focused movements a few days a week will build a terrific base (aim for the first half of your lunch break). Then, when you’re deep in a November or December turn and you call upon your legs to push back, the strength will be there.
Jump Lunges: These are especially good for telemark skiers, but they build critical quad strength for alpine skiers too. They train your muscles to respond with fast-twitch movements, particularly in the early season when the reactions aren’t as automatic. The Move: Start with one leg forward and the other back, with your hands behind your head. Bend deeply then explode upward, changing which leg is forward and which leg is back before you return to the earth. Repeat as many times as you can handle.
Side Hops: Meant to simulate a parallel turn, these left-to-right-to-left bunny hops, like jump lunges, build explosive strength and endurance that come in handy on long bump runs.
The Move: Keeping your feet parallel, bend to a 90-degree angle and leap to your left, cushioning your landing by bending again to 90 degrees, then leaping back to your right. Try for a set of 10 to start, and increase the number as you get stronger. (Tip: Complement this exercise with wall sits to build pure leg strength without the impact).
Trail Running: Running over rugged, rocky, uneven terrain doesn’t exactly simulate the act of skinning uphill on smooth, uniform snow. But it trains your body to accept and manage pain while climbing, and it’s as good a cardio workout as is available in nature, assuming you push yourself. If you don’t like running but still want to train for skinning, find a hill or mountain with a consistently steep grade and hike straight up the fall line with ski poles.
Burpees: The burpee is the 21st century jumping jack, and it teaches your body to push through lactic acid the way it might on a flailing, high-speed charge down the variable snow you’ll find while searching out fresh tracks a day after the latest storm. The Move: Start with your hands above your head, drop to a push-up, then frog jump back to a standing finish with your hands up high. Make time for a few sets of these each day and you’ll be stomping steeps like a billy goat.
Nothing too scientific here, just a good all-around exercise that helps you cover distance and work your entire body while accessing the alpine trails that will soon be under six feet of snow. While perfect for strengthening your legs, it also helps train your mind to read the terrain on a fast descent through nature.
Planks: So much of skiing’s biomechanical nuances can be traced to the core. Simply put, it’s our nucleus of strength. The Move: To execute a plank, get down on your forearms and toes, and hold the pose. Keep your butt down and your back ramrod straight. Stay there for 30 seconds at a time, and push it to a couple minutes as you build power. You’re earning extra turns with the burn you feel.
Have your pre-season fitness down and need some exercises and stretches for ski season? Check out more of our fitness-related articles, including: