Every year around this time, as the temperature cools and the first dusting of snow falls on the mountains, you might find yourself thinking more and more about your current physical fitness level for the upcoming season. Hopefully most of us have been staying active over the summer, whether it’s by biking or running or swimming or hiking or walking to and from work. If that’s the case, then you’ll certainly have a leg up on your ski buddies and arrive to Alta better conditioned than if you’d spent most of the summer sitting on the couch watching Netflix and drinking your favorite craft beers.
But, as you’ve probably discovered the hard way, staying active and spending countless of hours doing squats in the gym doesn’t always make that first run down Highboy any easier. In fact, most of the activities you’ve been doing over the summer have probably neglected the major muscles used while skiing, especially the glutes and hamstrings. As Toni Beretski, the Conditioning Coach for the US Ski Team, said in Outside Magazine: “Skiing is a very complex sport. You use your leg muscles down to your toe muscles. So it’s not just about being strong in your lower back, or abs, or quads. It’s a question of combining all of these groups to let them work together, to have them incorporated in a movement.”
So here’re a few exercises which will help you target these specific ski muscles. All it takes is an extra fifteen minutes before or after your next workout.
This exercise will help with your balance and to strengthen your thighs, hamstrings, quadriceps, and glutes. Begin by standing with your feet shoulder-width apart. Place your hands out in front of you, and with your heels firmly planted, slowly lower yourself into a seated position until your thighs are parallel to the ground. Then rise back up slowly while maintaining a strong core. Repeat this 20 times.
This exercise works your quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, and calves. Begin by standing with your feet shoulder-width apart. With your hands on your hips, step forward with your left foot and lower yourself into a lunge position, keeping your left knee at a 90 degree angle and your right knee just above the ground. Return back to the starting position and repeat with the other leg. Do this 20 times, 10 reps per leg.
This exercise works the same muscles as the Air Squats, while also incorporating some cardio. Begin by standing with your feet shoulder-width apart. Lower yourself into a squatting position, and while shifting your weight from your heels to the balls of your feet, explode upwards about a foot or two off the ground and land firmly back on your feet. Repeat 10 or 20 times.
This exercise works to strengthen your knees and hips and improves your lateral movements. Begin by standing with your feet wide apart, more than shoulder-width, and your hands locked in front of your chest. Shift your weight laterally onto your left foot, squat down until your right leg is straight and your left knee is bent no more than 90 degrees. Focus on extending your hamstrings and hips. Then drive upwards on your left foot and perform the same movement on the other leg. Perform 10 reps on each side.
One-Legged Box Squats
This exercise helps with your body control and provides extra resilience to injuries. Begin by standing with your back to a chair. Raise your right foot and keep it fully extended. With your arms raised in front of you and you hips squared, slowly bend your left knee and lower yourself until your butt barely touches the chair. Push yourself back up and then lower yourself back down on the same leg. Repeat 10 on each side.
Single-Leg Hip Presses
This exercise strengthens your hamstrings and glutes. Begin by lying on your back with your left leg pulled up and your right fully extended. Push your planted leg upwards, engaging your hamstring and your glutes, and lift your hips towards the ceiling. Slowly return yourself to the starting position. Perform 10 times per leg, building up to 60 second intervals.