Although this article is on the older side, this exercise program for ski conditioning still is pertinent. If you haven’t started skiing yet this season, get going and follow the workout below to get in shape for it. The skiing in the Wenatchee Valley and surrounding mountains can be pretty amazing. -WenOut Staff
Article by Adam Vognild
Our recommendations focus primarily on the lower body (or core), but we also incorporate some upper body strength. Always check with your doctor before performing any exercise program.
Strength: A strength set of any exercise is loaded to the point where you can’t complete more than 8 reps at a time. This repetition structure will increase muscle mass and strength. It is usually done with a 2-5 minute rest between 3 to 5 sets of repetitions. This does not always require weight, try one armed push-ups, one armed pull ups, and single leg squats and pistols.
Strength-Endurance: Any exercise that allows a rep structure of more than 8 reps at a time and up to around 50. This exercise (or combinations of exercises) will happen over a time frame of roughly 45-150 seconds. This repetition range will produce no muscle mass gains and will begin to utilize the cardio-respiratory system. This will be the meat of what most skiers should concentrate on because this is more comparable to the stress put on the body during uphill and/or downhill skiing.
Endurance: Any exercise performed at a low enough intensity that can be maintained for hours or even days. Running, biking, swimming, cross country skiing and of course ski touring are all examples of this component!
Power: An explosive movement utilizing virtually the entire body. Examples of power movements include box jumps, tuck jumps, short sprints at maximum effort, hill sprints, squat jumps, stair climb sprints, burpees, and on-snow jump turns.
Balance: Any movement that will require stabilization. This stabilization could be required on one foot or both (or both hands). Stabilization could be needed due to the surface, or due to an outside force that is applied to the body. Jumping, landing, standing and squatting on one leg will help train this.
Flexibility: Become more flexible so that you maximize your range of motion (ROM). A larger ROM will allow for larger distances of applied force, improved technique, and reduced joint injuries. It’s better to stretch a little throughout the day than do it for an hour one day a week. Stretch as part of your warm-up. However, it’s better to stretch more at the end of your workout once your muscles are warm.
These are broken down according to their given component along with upper and lower body specificity. Concentrate on maintaining proper form.
LOWER BODY AND ‘CORE’
Strength: Single leg squats, pistols, knees to elbows.
Strength-Endurance: Air squats, lunges, lunge variations (star, backward, and with weight overhead), poor man’s hamstring curl, single leg box step ups, Bulgarian split squat, sit-ups, sandbag getups, supermans, back extensions, plank walk ups.
Power: Box jumps, tuck jumps, split (lunge) jumps, two foot lateral, lateral single leg box jumps, and hill sprints.
Balance: Single leg ball throws and catches, side to side lateral hop with stabilization, running on trails, balance boards (and pillows).
Flexibility: Hip flexor stretch, quad stretch, hamstring stretch, also hip mobility.
Strength: One armed push-ups, one armed pull-ups, pull-ups (if you can’t do more than 8), ring dips.
Strength- Endurance: Push-ups, bodyweight rows, dips, isometric holds (flexed arm hang, dip hold, rope hold etc).
Power: Burpees, clapping pushups, jumping pull-ups, throwing things.
Flexibility: Shoulder dislocates, wrist stretches, down dog.
HOW TO PUT IT ALL TOGETHER
This is very individual, however you need to address your weaknesses as this will make you stronger. You should make a point to include every component of conditioning into your workouts throughout the week. Some days might be heavy on strength work (perform several sets of heavy squats, for example), another day might emphasize power (move through a circuit made up of jumps and sprints), another day might emphasize endurance and balance (take a trail run)…The goal for all of these workouts is to be consistent and, over time, to add volume to your training sessions. You can add volume by doing more repetitions (of the same exercises) in the same amount of time, or by adding another round of exercises to your workout. Or you could add volume by adding a weighted pack to your back while doing an already loaded lunge. Most importantly, engage your mind and your body and have fun!
Maintain good form with each exercise. Partly this is about getting maximum benefit by going through the full range of motion an exercise demands. Standing all the way up with squats, for example, is important to properly workout muscles and elongate the hip flexors. Good form also reduces injuries. For example, if your legs are too tired to properly lift weight or support your upper body, then you expose your back to injury while lifting. If your form is falling apart, reduce the intensity of an exercise. If you still can’t maintain proper form, stop.
If any of the listed exercises are unfamiliar to you, perform a Google search and you’ll find instructions, pictures, and videos describing how to execute that exercise. For example, try a search like (“box jump” fitness) or (“Bulgarian split squat” fitness) and you’ll find dozens of entries demonstrating that exercise.
The exercises emphasized in this article are easily performed at home and don’t require fancy gear. In truth, the only problem with doing this stuff at home is maintaining discipline. Visiting a gym where someone is encouraging you to push yourself is helpful for those of us who slack off long before we approach the puke zone.
A big emphasis was placed on flexibility—the element of overall fitness that is most neglected. As we age, flexibility becomes increasingly important 1) to simply keep moving 2) to avoid injury. Joints that have little range of motion are easily damaged in falls. Adam Vognild and Cathy Covey presented this information for a Monday night Backcountry Skiing Prep Session. Those of us who attended the session were also put through a workout that annihilated our legs.
CrossFit workouts emphasize intensity, partly because this reduces the amount of time spent exercising, partly because increased intensity allows for workouts where the benefits received from aerobic exercise and strength training merge.
This article was originally published on 12/2/09.