When I was 6 years old, I learned to ski at the Snowbird Ski Resort in Utah. They showed me how to go and stop (French fries to go, pizza to stop). I went straight down the hill. No fear. No pain afterward.
Several decades (and a few injuries) later, a run down the mountain is not quite that simple. I have found there is some serious physical preparation involved.
As busy New Yorkers, weekend ski and snowboard trips can leave us with strained muscles and sore backs. The right pre-ski season workout routine can make all the difference. You won’t have to risk injury or suffer from the usual aches and pains. Here are three of my favorite exercises to get black diamond-ready.
**Start performing your off-mountain routine 2 to 4 times a week at least one month before your first trip up the mountain.
Side-lying Hip Abductor
This exercise focuses on the glutes, and hip flexors in the front and rear of the hip socket and is great for building knee strength and stability. It activates your gluteus maximus, minimus, and medius to improve balance and prevent lower back pain.
Lie on your side with your head supported, knees straight and feet together. Lift your top leg off your bottom leg as high as possible without rolling your pelvis backward. Return to the start position.
Start with three rounds of 60 seconds each on the ground. Then switch sides to work the other leg. Progressions can be made by adding resistance or weights.
This core-specific exercise is great for building oblique muscles that you’ll need every time you make a turn on the mountain. This motion really comes in handy when powering down moguls.
Sit on the ground and lean up slightly with your knees and hips bent at a 90-degree angle. Grab a dumbbell or weight plate and hold it with bent arms away from your chest. With your feet off the floor, engage your core and rotate your upper body as far as you can to the right, touching the weight to the ground. Return to the center and then twist to the other side.
One repetition is a twist to each side. Do three rounds of 10 to 20 reps.
Single Leg Lateral Hops
Single Leg Lateral Hops are used for building the inside and outside thigh, lateral strength in the knee, as well as overall coordination that is need in almost every aspect of skiing.
Stand to the side of a cone or line. To get into the start position, stand on one leg with your knee slightly bent. To begin, hop sideways over the cone or line. Land on your jumping leg, and immediately rebound out of it by hopping back to the start position.
Continue hopping back and forth.
Go back and forth 10 times on one foot, then switch feet and hop back and forth 10 times on the other foot. Continue alternating feet after each 10 hops back and forth. Each 10 hops are one rep. Do two rounds of 2 reps on each leg.
It’s never too early (or late…) to begin training for ski season. In fact, getting and staying fit for skiing can be a fun year-round activity if you want to avoid injury, improve your skiing and get the best out of every ski day.