Get in shape to ski!

An article
by Chris Hibbard

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Get in shape to ski!

Skiing is an incredibly fun way to beat the winter blues away, but the sports require the use of muscles that don’t often get conditioned during the rest of the year. So before hitting the slopes this season, get yourself prepared to avoid injury and strain by prepping your body before your trip. Pulled hamstrings and twisted ankles are no way to start the ski season.

Step 1.
Build Your Cardio Endurance

By mid-afternoon on the hill, some skiers are so bagged that they lose focus, creating an excellent opportunity for accidents to happen. Your pre-slopes cardio program should include at least four hours of your choice of running, jumping rope, trampolining, skateboarding, stair climbing, swimming, step aerobics, elliptical training or rollerblading. These are all ideal ways to wake up the muscles and get the heart rate up.

Step 2.
Build Your Strength

Skiing and snowboarding require the use of all the body’s muscle groups, but when it comes to strength training, these ones are the most important.

Quadriceps. These muscles hold you in position as you ski and they also provide protection for your knees. Whip them into shape each day using exercises like squats, leg presses and lunges.

Hamstrings & Glutes. When tucking downhill, skiers typically hold their bodies in a flexed position, leaning forward from the hips, using the hams and the glutes to maintain stability. These muscles are strengthened by exercises like deadlifts, leg curls and lunges.

Inner/Outer Thighs. Your inner thighs have to work overtime to keep your skies together, while the outer ones keep you stable and help you steer. By incorporating side lunges, inner thigh squeezes and leg lifts into your exercise regimen, these oft-forgotten muscle groups won’t burn so bad your first time hitting the slopes.

Calves. Your calf muscles and your ski boots are key to staying upright while your knees are bent as your ski, so by doing seated calf raises three times a week, those calves will toughen up in no time.

Abs and Back. Your back has to overcompensate for all the time you spend in a bent over, flexed position, while your abs assist in holding yourself that way. The lats become involved when travelling on a flat surface or uphill, using poles for propulsion. Incorporate bike riding, back extensions, lat pull-downs and dumbbells into your workout routine, and save your lower back and spine from yelling at you the day after your first trip out.

Arms. Last but not least, your arms stabilize your shoulder joints, and with the help of your back, push off with your poles. Be sure to work your biceps using barbell or dumbbell curls and your triceps using try dips or dumbbell extensions.

Step 3.
Balancing and Stretching

It’s a great idea to include balance enhancement exercises into your routine. Stand on one leg on some kind of balancing device like a disk or Buso Ball, then try touching first the floor and then the sky. With your chest out and your head up, try not to bend at the waist, doing two sets of ten bends for each leg. It practically goes without saying that each and every workout wouldn’t be complete without getting plenty of stretches in at the beginning and end of each workout. Through balancing and stretching comes flexibility – key to pulling off the best tricks and protecting yourself from harm.

Step 4.
Find a Conditioning Class

Last but not least, since skiing is a very dynamic sport, plyomectric or jumping workouts are the perfect fit. Many institutions in town including the YMCA offer winter sports conditioning workshops and classes dedicated solely to whipping your Spring and Summer body into shape for skiing. Once you’re ready to go, have a great season.

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~ by Chris Hibbard on November 6, 2008.

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