A few of my clients will be embarking upon Skiing holidays in the next few months, and have asked for advice on specific exercises that focus on the muscles used in skiing. Here’s what I tell them:
Skiing requires strength and agility from your lower body and by strengthening your legs and knees, you will build stamina and reduce your risk of knee injury – one of the most common injuries in skiing. I would recommend beginning your ski-specific exercise program at least three weeks before you go.
The Wall Sit
The wall sit works your quads as you resist the force of your body weight. The motion simulates the forces on your body during parts of ski turns.
Stand with your back flat against a wall with your feet several inches in front of your body. Bend your hips and knees and slide your upper body down the wall until your knees are bent 90 degrees and your thighs are parallel to the floor. Your lower leg should be perpendicular to floor with your knee aligned over your ankle. Hold the position for 30 seconds and increase the hold time by five seconds with each session.
The Hamstring Curl
To strengthen your hamstrings along the back of your upper legs, perform some hamstring curls with a partner.
Kneel on the floor with a cushion under your knees. Have a partner hold your feet as you bend at the waist, lowering your torso forward toward the floor. Hold for five seconds, and return to the upright position. Repeat ten times. If you don’t have a partner to hold your feet, strap on some ankle weights. Lie face-down on the floor with your arms at your sides and your legs extended behind you. Pull your toes in toward your shins, and curl your heels toward your glutes.
The Single-Leg Squat
Single-leg squats allow you to focus on individual leg strength, while building up strength in your knees to prevent knee pain on the slopes.
Use your ski poles for balance and start with your weight on your left foot. Bend your left hip and knee, lower your body into a squat until your left thigh is parallel to the floor and extend your right leg out in front of you. Push down through your left foot to return to the starting position. Repeat several times, and swap legs. At the bottom of the squat, don’t let your knee extend over your toes.
Walking downhill lengthens the quadriceps muscles. This will help when you’re on the slope during downhill skiing when you lean back into a squatting position.
Fill a backpack with 20 to 30 pounds of weight, and go out for a downhill walk. You’ll work your lower body while getting in some aerobic exercise at the same time. Start with a weekly 15-minute hike and work your way up to 30-minutes.
If you follow the above, along with your usual fitness routine you will ache much less after a hard day on the slopes. Remember to stretch out properly and make the most of the hot tub to help your muscles recover.