Get Ready to Hit the Slopes
by Randy Leopando

You don’t have to wait for the snow to start falling to get ready for ski season. Start your training now and you’ll be sailing past those other ski bums on your way down the mountain.

Dusting the competition or showing off to friends are not the only reasons to get in shape before ski season. Skiing is an activity that requires a variety of skills: strength, endurance, balance and coordination. Hit the slopes without developing these skills and you may be in for more than a little embarrassment – you might even hurt yourself.

Sports specific training 

This is where sports-specific training comes in. Generally speaking, sports-specific training programs involve focusing on the various skills associated with a particular activity.  Depending on the sport, this may include health-related fitness components such as cardiovascular endurance, muscular strength and endurance, and flexibility.  A specific program may also take into account skill-related measures of fitness such as agility, balance, coordination, power, speed and reaction time. Most sports require a mixture of these components.

Skiing is a sport that relies heavily on skill-related fitness. A traditional fitness program, which includes a combination of weight training and cardiovascular exercise, will only take you so far.   A specific training program to develop specific skills for skiing will take you from the peaks to the valleys in record time.

Get ready to ski 

There are several ways to begin a sports-specific training program. The simplest way is to include several new exercises in your regular workout schedule.  For example, performing wall sits that require you to ”sit” against a wall will help build up the isometric strength needed for the tuck position in skiing. Squats and lunges will build lower body strength for skiing tough terrain like moguls.  Exercises such as planks or trunk rotations with the cable to work your abdominals are essential in creating a solid ”core” for balance and agility.  It is important to train your body to withstand and absorb the impact associated with skiing. Plyometric movements, such as hopping from side to side, develop muscle power and strength as well as improve agility.

Set up your own ski circuit 

A great way to integrate these elements into your existing routine is to create a circuit training program, which involves rapidly moving from one exercise to the next, similar to what many NutriFormance trainers are doing with their clients.  A common circuit is 3-4 exercises with a maximum 30 seconds rest in between each exercise.  Your goal is to complete 3 sets for each circuit.    Add some of these exercises to your routine:  lateral hops over a cone for lateral agility; single leg squats for leg strength and balance; planks holds for core strength; squat jumps for leg power and shock absorption; and wall-sits to increase quad isometric strength similar to the tuck position.  One way to really maximize your time is to do a “wall-sit” while you do bicep curls, shoulder presses, or lateral shoulder raises – basically anything you do standing up, do a wall-sit instead!  Good luck this year on the slopes.