Love your first day on the slopes each season, only to find yourself crippled and hitting the hot tub on your second day?
Be smart this year – get ready for the hills before the snow falls! Increase your endurance, your core strength and your agility with the following pre-season downhill workout.
Aim for three times a week and try to start your workouts at least four weeks before your season begins. These movements train the lower body muscles and the core, so I suggest adding three or four of your favorite upper body exercises for a total body workout.
Ensure that you are able to maintain your form throughout the entire exercise and that you are still challenging yourself. You want it to be strenuous (otherwise how are you going to get better?), but you also want to do it right! If at all possible, seek out a personal trainer to keep an eye on your form, or do the exercises in front of a mirror and be your own trainer.
Keep your spine long (no slouching!) and your core engaged throughout.
An easy way to engage that core is to draw the belly button in towards the spine and hold that contraction while still maintaining a normal breathing pattern. And, most importantly … train hard and be brave.
Warm up: 5 -10 minute light jog, incorporating side shuffles and arm circles throughout.
Perform each exercise as a circuit, going through each movement with no rest between each exercise. Try to build up to 2-3 rounds of the circuit, resting for 2-3 minutes after each circuit.
Walking Lunges: 30 reps
Lunges are an important part of any skiing and boarding program. They train all the big guns of the lower body (quads, hamstrings and glutes), while at the same time challenging your balance. Stand with your feet shoulder width apart.
Step one foot forward, with your heel touching the floor first. When it touches, your knee should be at a 90 degree angle and lined up with your toes, without going past them.
Keep lowering your torso until your back knee is touching the floor, or as low as you can drop it. Lift your body back up again and swing the back leg forward and perform a lunge with that lead leg. Keep traveling forward until you have completed all your reps.
Bunny Hops: 30 seconds
This exercise will help with your parallel turns as well as powering up your lower leg muscles. Draw a six foot line in the ground either using chalk, tape or placing a skipping rope on the ground. With your knees soft and core engaged, tightly hop side to side quickly while traveling down the line. Keep your feet together and your body’s center of gravity over the line. Once you have mastered this movement, try to get more height with the hops.
Unbalanced wood chop: 45 seconds Using a foam roller placed lengthwise will make this exercise even more ski specific. Use either a dumbbell or a medicine ball to perform the wood chop. If you don’t have access to a foam roller, place a pillow under each foot and perform the exercise without any shoes on for more instability. Stand on foam roller with your hands above your head, your core engaged and your shoulders pulled back and down. Quickly throw the arms down like you are swinging an axe down to chop some wood, while at the same time performing a mini squat. This exercise should be done quickly and with control to gain the most benefit.
Ski Pole Quick Lunges: 30 seconds This exercise is designed to get the heart rate up and work the power in your lower body muscles and the stabilizers in your core. Standing in between your poles, come down into a lunge and then propel yourself up and change lead legs. Try not to put too much weight on the ski poles.
Hamstring curls: 15 - 20 reps each leg You can’t forget your poor hamstrings (the muscles behind your thighs). By targeting them specifically, you will help alleviate any muscle imbalances that tend to develop between them and the quads (front of the thigh muscle) and you will experience less leg fatigue after a full day on the slopes. Lying on your back with your shoes off and a towel under each heel, lift the hips as high off the floor as you can. Maintain this hip lift while slowly sliding the left foot forward until the leg is almost straight. Pull it back to start and slide the right foot out. Please note that this exercise must be performed on a slippery surface, such as hard wood or laminate flooring.
Under the Rope Bobs: 45 seconds Gets your heart rate up and train your leg muscles in a functional riding stance. Tie a rope between two objects a little lower than your shoulders. Get under the rope in your rider’s stance and bob to the left and right of the rope. You will come up out of your stance after you bob out from under the rope, but ensure your stance is correct when moving directly under the rope.
PJ Wren is a Vancouver, B.C. based personal trainer who has been helping people find their “inner athlete” for over 14 years.