Skiing is a demanding sport. It takes a lot of skill, practice, and dedication to become an advanced level skier. You also need plenty of athleticism to be able to handle changing conditions and various terrains. The best skiers in the world spent years and years honing their craft in a way that allowed them to rise above the competition. While a lot of that time came on the mountain, a lot of it came from offseason exercises as well.
While you might never be one of the best skiers in the world, taking some time during warmer months and during the ski season to improve your abilities can really pay off. One of the best ways to do that is through exercise.
General exercise is great for a variety of reasons. However, if you want to improve your skiing, there are specific movements you can do that really help on the slopes. The following article explains what those are and why they work.
Squats are one of the best all-around exercises you can do to build your leg muscles and develop the strength and endurance needed for skiing. There are many different ways to squat, and most of them help you generate power and speed. I’ll highlight a few recommended types of squats for skiing, but first there are some technical considerations to keep in mind.
When squatting, keep a shoulder-width (or slightly wider) stance. Stick your butt out while squatting down and try to keep your knees from going in front of your toes. Keep your chest and head up while doing this and squat down as low as you are able to ( try to get your knees at a 90 degree angle). If you’ve never done a squat before, check out this video to learn the proper form.
There are plenty of different squat styles you can experiment with. You also don’t need to visit the gym or weight room to squat. You can always just use your body weight. If you do want to use weights, back squats and front squats are great for building lower body strength. One of my favorite squats for skiing is a jump squat. These squats are great for mimicking the jumping and landing that happens while you’re carving through the snow.
Plyometrics are some of my personal favorite skiing exercises. While it is a broad discipline that encompasses many exercises, at its core it is a series of jumping and explosive type movements. Jumping up and down, side to side, and other similar movements have a direct translation to skiing because the activities build the same muscles you need on the slopes.
When performing any plyometric exercise, it’s important to understand how your body absorbs shocks in a way that actively prevents injury. When jumping, always remember to keep your core engaged and try to land as softly as possible. Do that by keeping your knees and hips slightly bent so that they can absorb a large amount of force. That will build strength and explosiveness at the same time. It will also keep your joints healthy.
A great plyometric exercise for ski training is box jumps. You can jump straight up onto a box, steps, or perform the movement laterally. You don’t need any equipment to perform great plyometric movements, like standing broad jumps or frog jumps, either. For more ideas and technique tips on various plyometric exercises, check out this writeup.
3. Core Exercises
While it’s obviously very important to develop strength, conditioning, and agility in your legs, that’s not the only important part of the body. Core exercises will help improve your skiing ability as well. Such movements, commonly referred to ‘ab’ exercises, tend to include your lower back, hips, and upper legs.
A strong core helps you move and react quickly while on the mountain. Developing your muscles improves your athleticism and balance in many different ways. There are a seemingly endless amount of core exercises out there. However, the movements listed here are some of my favorites for skiing. Be sure to do them often.
The hollow hold and hollow rock are two similar exercises that work to strengthen your overall core stability. The swing plank is a great core exercise that can actually help you increase your speed while skiing. The regular old plank is another great core exercise that can be adapted in many forms. Russian Twists are great as well.
The ski exercises listed in this guide will help you become a better skier, but only if you work hard and do them as part of a regular routine. You need to spend a few months training all of the above body parts to see an impact. If you can stay motivated, the hard work will pay off, and you’ll notice an improvement in your abilities.
I like to start my ski training roughly two months before the season starts. Six to eight weeks is a good amount of time to see noticeable benefits from these movements, and it allows you ample time to get your body primed for a great season! You can also do these exercises during the ski season as long as you don’t do any heavy workouts the day before you go out.
Do you have a favorite ski exercise? Have you ever trained specifically for skiing? Let us know below.