Winter is coming…And that means it’s time to hit the slopes. Hitting some fresh powder is about as good of a high as we adrenaline junkies can find – but we should probably make sure that we are adequately prepared for this year’s snowy season the right way. Certainly, the proper gear is necessary to enjoy your skiing. But you also might want to start prepping your own body for the physical toll your good time will take on your body. Through proper exercise, you’ll be able to ski better, longer, and safer. So, we’ve compiled the best exercises for skiing that you can do to prime your body for maximum fun.
What to Consider
When we think about what body parts we are going to tax the most by skiing, it should be pretty obvious that your legs will be doing the heaviest work. Sitting into your legs to cushion your flight down the mountain is key to proper technique.
Accordingly, we have to make sure to hit the three major lower body muscle groups with our workouts:
A powerful buttocks is perhaps the most important part of a healthy body but also a happy skier. The gluteus maximus is responsible for transferring power out of your body and into the ground, effectively making it the foundation of any force that you create with your legs. So, we have to make sure that we take care of our glutes in the gym.
Your quads (the top of your leg) work in tandem with your glutes to create power. Any routine built for helping a skier perform should be heavy on the quads as they are responsible for pushing your body up and away from the ground. They also are used to kick your foot further away from your buttocks, making them an important asset to a skier. You would be keen to notice that professional skiers have highly pronounced quadriceps muscles so you should probably prepare your own for the ski season.
The hammies (the bottom of your leg) are just as essential as the opposite side of your leg. Your hamstrings help to further stabilize your body and help you move forward. Contracting your hammies moves your heel closer to your butt, moving you forward. They also help your buttocks to create power and stability throughout the body. Altogether, your legs are only as strong as your hamstrings.
Above the Waist
But this doesn’t mean that you can ignore your torso and upper body. Strong legs create a great base for movement but your whole body is only as strong as your torso. The abdominals and back muscles protect your lower back from having issues and keep you from falling over in general. Your upper body is just as important since you need to use your poles while you ski, too.
So, let’s take a look at some of the best exercises for skiing.
Best Exercises for Skiing
That’s right. The good, old fashioned squat is one of the best exercises for skiing. Practically everybody knows what a squat looks like but not everybody does them – or does them right. Here’s a few things that you want to make sure of with your squatting technique:
- Heels down, knees out! These two keys will keep your legs properly engaged during a squat. Keeping your heels down will make sure that your quads stay active while ensuring that your knees don’t collapse inwards will keep your glute muscles engaged. This way, you’ll have all of the proper muscles awake and working during your squat.
- Tuck your ribs, squeeze your abs! It is of utmost importance that you protect your back during a squat. Working out is useless if you walk out of the gym with a sore back. So, to prevent this, keep your ribs tucked in and your core tight as you squat. This way, your muscles will bear the weight of the squat rather than your back.
Need a good visual for your squat? Watch a baby! Children who have just learned to walk perform perfect squats every time. Why? Their bodies haven’t become weakened from sitting around all day like adults do. You’ll notice that a baby’s squat looks very smooth and natural – because it is!
Check out these squat variations for some different challenges.
The deadlift is another movement that is renowned in the weightlifting community and can be one of the best exercises for skiing. Deadlifts are great for a lower body focused lift that also utilizes the core and upper body. A proper deadlift has a few features like:
- Flat Back! Deadlifts can be dangerous when done incorrectly. This position that a deadlift puts you in makes your back especially vulnerable to added strain because you have to bend forward to reach the bar. However, you can mitigate this risk by making sure that you start your movement with a tight, solid core. If you ever feel like you are losing your posture while you deadlift, you are moving too much weight and need to lighten up.
- Lift with your legs! You’ve probably heard it a thousand times but it’s true. A perfect deadlift starts in your legs and ends in your legs. Some people have a bad habit of poking their butt up in the air as their first movement in their deadlift and simply hinging at their waist to move the weight off the ground. Instead, you should almost be moving your legs like a squat, bracing your knees outward and squeezing your buttocks so that the bar or dumbbells only move through the power of your legs.
Dead Lift Video
While strength is obviously a great thing to have going down the mountain, it is also important to be able to stay athletic with dynamic movement. Lateral hops are a great way to build balance, quickness, and stability so that you can stay upright instead of falling down the mountain. There are plenty of variations for lateral hops but we are going to focus on the single leg lateral bound here. To perform this exercise,
- Stand on your right foot. You’re going to be jumping straight to your left. You are going to want to start in a good, athletic position with your knee bent and your foot kicked out in front of you about six inches. You may find that keeping your balance is difficult standing in mild squat with your foot out in front of you. This is a sign of glute weakness. But that’s okay! We’re working to improve.
- From this position, bound to your left. We aren’t going for height here; it’s about distance. Bouncing out as far as you can to your left, you’ll land on your left foot. Don’t let your right foot touch the ground! We are trying to work so that our body can stabilize the force of landing more deftly. Create a soft, one-footed landing sinking your hips back so that your buttocks are engaged in your stuck landing.
- Once you feel you have mastered stabilizing one hop at a time, you can try to do three hops at a time. Left, right, left. Now you’re on your left foot. Right, left, right. Now you’re on your right foot. And so on. You’ll start to realize you’re now creating skiing movements, so how could this not be one of the best exercises for skiing?
See how to preform the lateral hop
Bonus Work: Rowing
Yes, rowing. I know you thought you were preparing to ski so what does rowing have to do with anything? Well, rowing is a full body workout that engages everything you will need to ski. Legs, core, shoulders, and arms. It’s also an amazing cardiovascular workout. What’s the use in creating strength if you are too out of breath to function? So, if you want to add in a little cross training: consider rowing as one of the best exercises for skiing.
While we aren’t a fitness website, we do want to make sure that you have the best of times out on the mountain. Hopefully, with these workouts in mind, you’ll be able to create a routine to prepare you for crushing the powder and bouncing between the slaloms like you never have before. Some of the best exercises for skiing are also simply great for overall fitness while some are perfect for building athleticism specific to skiing. There are many more workouts that you can find to perfect your skiing techniques but these are some of the best exercises for skiing that you’ll find to prepare for your next trip.