Demands of skiing
To keep their ski fitness many skiers in the gym already keep their legs strong; however, skiing is a whole body activity
. Maneuvering quickly and pole-planting on high angle terrain requires optimal levels of core and upper body strength. Also, many types of skiing also require short, quick bursts of energy
, highlighting the need for power and speed development.
Back to basics approach
Adopting a back to basics approach to ski fitness will make you a stronger, injury-free skier
– all year round. Glutes, hamstrings, and quads
are three of the most important muscles in a skier’s body. However, effective force transfer via the legs (and also via the upper body through the ski poles) cannot occur without a strong and stable midline
(core). Fundamental movements such as squatting, lunging and lifting
will maintain and develop the lower body, as well as eliminating imbalances; bending, twisting and side to side movements
will develop midline stability and control of movement; and explosive movements will bridge the core to the upper and lower body – all of which will make you a stronger skier.
Top exercises for ski fitness
While there are many exercises to build fitness for skiing, at EVO we advocate an approach based on training objectives. For ski fitness, this includes lower body strength, midline stability and speed/power
. The following exercise recommendations focus on these objectives, and place a strong emphasis on purposeful and skillful training
. By making these exercises a regular part of your workout schedule, you will remain strong, fit and injury-free not only pre-season, but all year round.
Lower body strength
Knee injuries are common in skiers, especially ACL injuries. To reduce your risk of injury, it’s important to maintain strength and stability around the knee joint
using a variety of exercises. Be sure to include squats
– master these movements using just bodyweight initially, before adding controllable amounts of weight using dumbbells, kettlebells, barbells and medicine balls.
Midline stability, or balance
, is very important for skillful skiing. While having a strong and stable torso is essential, it can be limiting without good balance. Therefore, include simple balance exercises such as single leg squats
, and challenge these further using forward/backward/side lunge variations
. These exercises will develop lower body and midline stability. You can also include torso twisting/bending exercises
such as the medicine ball tornado
, or twisting V-sits
. Such exercises will not only build torso strength and mobility, but will also develop upper to lower body coordination (via the midline).
Power and speed
The quick bursts of speed
often required during skiing can be developed effectively through jumping movements
. As the objective is speed and control, focus on lower repetitions and good technique. Begin with exercises such as squat jumps
– and add control by trying to land in the same place. Progressions may include box jumps
and long jumps
. Speed endurance can also be developed using lateral box jumps
(low box). The focus here is to maintain a quick jumping rhythm from side to side. Finally, if you prefer to use a lower impact exercise to build power and speed, try adding barbell hang-cleans
to your workout.