Prepare Yourself for the Slopes: 5 Great Gym Exercises to Boost Strength and Endurance

Ski season has arrived and you are excited and amped up about hitting the slopes at your favorite ski resort! The slopes are calling your name and they are ready for you! The real question is: are you ready for them? Even though you may be a regular at the local gym or health club, skiing is super taxing on the body and good preparation is mandatory to build more strength and muscle endurance of your “ski” muscles and to prevent unwanted injury.

Alex Moore, advanced performance strength and conditioning coordinator at the U.S Ski and Snowboarding Association, recommends the 5 following gym exercises to best prepare you for your ski season. Do these and you will enhance your chance of success on the slopes this year and for many years to follow.

1. Romanian deadlift: (4 sets X 8 reps) – Using comfortable dumbbell weights or a barbell, bend your knees slightly and keeping your back straight, lean forward hinging at your hips. Push your hips forward and return to a standing position – Hamstring strength is very important in preventing ACL injuries, which are very prevalent in skiing. They are important in stabilizing your knee joint.

2. Single Leg Eccentric Leg press: (4 sets X 4 reps on each side) – Alex Moore recommends using 60-70% of what you think you can lift using both legs together. Using one leg, lower the weight down slowly over 6 seconds. At the bottom, press the weight back up with both legs, then slowly lower the weight again over 6 seconds with one leg. Keep the movement, smooth and controlled! If you are moving too fast, less than 6 seconds, the weight is too heavy. Much of the skiing motion is “eccentric” – resisting the downward movement on the leg press helps to mimic what you are doing coming down the hill and when turning on your ski’s.

3. Medicine Ball Pump Squat: (3 sets X 1 minute each) – Hold a medicine ball to your chest (comfortable weight that you can control) and with feet at shoulder width, lower yourself into a squat position. Staying low, do short pump squats (pulsing up and down about 1 inch or so) without coming back up to start for 1 minute sets. This exercise causes constant contraction and builds local muscle endurance in the lower back, gluteus muscles and quads. Something you need to complete each run on the slopes!

4. Squat Jump: (4 sets X 4 reps) – Start with your feet at shoulder width apart. Squat down until your thighs are parallel with the ground, then jump high into the air. Try to land softly on your feet. This exercise helps to develop explosiveness in the quads and gluteus muscles, which is necessary for pushing hard out of your turns.

5. Backwards Treadmill Walk: (3 sets X 1 minute , then progress to 3 sets X 3 minutes) – begin walking on the treadmill at 2-3 miles per hour. Begin increasing the incline to your toleration and very carefully, turn around so you are facing backwards, so you are walking backwards uphill. As you walk, drop down to a partial squat position similar to a “tuck” position in skiing. This exercise builds strength and endurance in the quads and gluteus muscles.

Training for specific activities in sports is very important in relationship to injury prevention and for success in that sport. Proper preparation for the muscles and joints involved is mandatory and necessary. If you have any questions regarding preparation for skiing or any sport, please feel free to call or schedule an appointment with your local physical therapist at Rehabilitation Associates of Central Virginia at any one of our 11 convenient locations throughout Central Va. To make it as easy as possible for you, we have created a toll free number- 855-RACV4PT.
Contributed by John Wallman, PT, CGFI
Clifton St office (434-528-1848)

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