Are you hitting the slopes this winter? Skiing is great exercise, but it can also be dangerous. There are lots of ways to avoid a skiing accident, from wearing a helmet to not using trails you aren’t ready for, but the best way is to train your body specifically for the demands it will face on the mountain. Skiing requires endurance, strength and balance, all of which can be improved with work in the gym. The stronger and more stable you are on the slopes, the more likely you are to have fun and stay on your feet, and that’s the most important part. Here are some great off-the-slopes exercises you can use to get ski season ready.
Running. Slopes are like hills, but big, overgrown ones. Build endurance and train to tackle them by running up and down hills. Running hills not only increases cardiovascular endurance, meaning you can stay out longer and feel better, but improves quadriceps strength. Strong quadriceps help you crouch lower and stabilize your knees, making a run down the mountain less likely to result in a spill.
Strength training. The stronger your muscles are, the easier it’s going to be to hold yourself up as you ski down the slopes all day long. With skiing, it’s important to be mindful of muscle imbalances that can cause unnecessary fatigue and train all muscle groups. Working in pairs such as quadriceps and hamstrings, abdominals and lower back, biceps and triceps will help prevent muscle imbalances that could be detrimental out on the snow. Utilizing a wide variety of leg exercises is going to strengthen all parts of the leg muscles: inside, outside, front and back, providing the incredibly important knee joint with lots of support. Try squats, deadlifts and lunges along with pull-ups and push-ups for a full body workout that will help keep muscle balanced.
Balance. One of the best ways to improve balance is through core work, especially exercises like yoga and pilates. Core strength is involved in everything we do. It’s hard to have strong legs and arms if the muscles they partner with, those that hold us upright like abdominals, obliques and glutes, aren’t also strong. Not so good balance can come from poor posture, a weak core or muscle imbalance, which makes a good dose of core strengthening exercises a few times a week a great way to improve and alleviate balance issues. Exercises such as planks, sit-ups and superman will help get you there, and that means you’ll be better able to regain balance after a bump on the slopes.