With winter fast approaching, is your body ready for ski season? The answer for many people is no. Most of us spent our summers neglecting our winter sports training, some of us neglected the fact that winter is coming at all. Instead we were relaxing by the pool, enjoying barbecues, and not giving a thought towards the snow. Don’t worry, there is still enough time to get in shape for the slopes!
Proper training can prevent injuries, improve your skiing technique, and help you better enjoy your days on the mountain. We all know that skiing involves plenty of side to side lateral movements, so why train your body to move in a straight line? This tendency to train for linear movement opens you up for those dreaded knee injuries. Another common mistake people make when training for ski season is only focusing on their major muscle groups and forgetting the secondary muscles that help with stabilization. Here are six of our favorite pre ski season workouts that you should add to your off season training program to get the most out of your time on the mountain.
1. Lateral Box Jumps
This exercise will help with the lateral forces that are put on your quads and hamstrings by conditioning them to take the impact. It will also help strengthen the secondary muscles such as the glutes, calves and hip flexors.
Step 1: Stand on one side of an exercise bench/weight bench/exercise box with your body parallel with the bench.
Step 2: Jump with two feet sideways over the bench and land on the other side.
Step 3: Jump with two feet sideways back over the bench and land on the side you started on to complete one rep.
2. Band Lateral Walks
The hips and glutes take on a lot of the work load when skiing. Lateral band walks will help strengthen the gluteus medius muscle, which will help stabilize the knee joint. It will also strengthen the deep muscles that stabilize the pelvis.
Step 1: Keeping the band flat, not bunched, place the band just above each ankle and wrapped around both legs.
Step 2: Position your feet shoulder width apart. The band should be taught, but not stretched.
Step 3: Bend your knees slightly and move into a half-squat position to activate the gluteus medius.
Step 4: Keep your feet in line with your shoulders and face forward with your body weight evenly distributed over both feet.
Step 5: Maintaining the half-squat position, shift your weight over one leg and take a step sideways with the other leg away from the weight bearing leg. Move your leg in and out, sideways, for 8 to 10 reps.) NOTE: Keep your hips level during the movement. Try not to bounce up and down or sway side to side
Step 6: Slowly shift your weight and switch legs.
Step 7: Do another 8 to 10 side steps.
Your core is where you derive all you power, as well as stability. Without a strong core, all of your other muscles will have to work harder to compensate, which can lead to injury. Planks work your rectus abdominis muscle, which is your deep abs. Strong rectus abdominis muscles can help support your lower back and even help relieve pre-existing back pain.
Step 1: Bend your elbows 90 degrees and rest your weight on your forearms. Your elbows should be directly beneath your shoulders, and your body should form a straight line from your head to your feet.
Step 2: Hold the position for as long as you can, each time you perform this exercise try and hold it for longer and longer periods of time.
4. Back Extensions
The most common injury people complain about at any given time is lower back pain. Lower back pain can be due to a number of things such as tight hamstrings, a weak core, or tight hip flexors, just to name a few. Having a strong lower back is essential to escaping the ski season free of injury. Being bent over in a half squat position for a long period of time puts a lot of pressure on your lower back; this exercise will help prevent your back from slowing you down.
Step 1: Lie face down on a hyperextension bench, tucking your ankles securely under the footpads.
Step 2: Adjust the upper pad (if possible) so your upper thighs lie flat across the wide pad, leaving enough room for you to bend at the waist without any restriction.
Step 3: With your body straight, cross your arms in front of you (my preference) or behind your head. This will be your starting position. You can also hold a weight plate for extra resistance in front of you under your crossed arms.
Step 4: Start bending forward slowly at the waist as far as you can while keeping your back flat. Inhale as you perform this movement. Keep moving forward until you feel a nice stretch on the hamstrings and you can no longer keep going without rounding your back. NOTE: Some people can go farther than others. The key thing is that you go as far as you can without rounding your back, as this can lead to injury.
Step 5: Slowly raise your torso back to the initial position as you inhale.
5. Tricep Extensions
The triceps are one of those smaller muscles that tend to be ignored during a ski training program. Triceps are going to help you tremendously with being able to drive yourself forward with your poles.
Step 1: Attach a rope attachment to a high pulley and grab with a neutral grip (palms facing each other).
Step 2: Standing upright with the torso straight and a very small inclination forward, bring the upper arms close to your body and perpendicular to the floor. The forearms should be pointing up towards the pulley as they hold the rope with the palms facing each other. This is your starting position.
Step 3: Using the triceps, bring the rope down as you bring the rope to each side of your thighs. At the end of the movement the arms are fully extended and perpendicular to the floor. The upper arms should always remain stationary next to your torso and only the forearms should move. Exhale as you perform this movement.
Step 4: After holding for a second, at the contracted position, bring the rope slowly up to the starting point. Breathe in as you perform this step.
6. Lateral Shoulder Raises
Your shoulders take a beating whether it’s from catching yourself as you fall, absorbing the impact from your ski pole catching in the ground, or just pushing yourself along with your ski poles. Make sure going into the ski season your shoulders can handle the stress.
Step 1: Pick a couple of dumbbells and stand with a straight torso and the dumbbells hanging by your hips with your palms facing in. This will be your starting position.
Step 2: While maintaining the torso in a stationary position (no swinging), lift the dumbbells with a slight bend of the elbow and the hands slightly tilted forward as if pouring water in a glass. Continue to go up until your arms are parallel to the floor. Exhale as you execute this movement and pause for a second at the top. Lower the dumbbells back down slowly to the starting position.