Shape up for the slopes – An exercise program to ski your best!

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June is a little over 12 weeks away and if you want to get the most out of that annual ski pass it is important to start strengthening and conditioning your body NOW!

The following overview is adapted from exercise programming prescribed by the former Canadian National Ski Team strength coach (guru) – Charles Poliquin.

For the typical skier, training a minimum of 2x/week in the off season and when the season is underway dropping that to 1x/week is plenty – that is if you’re hitting the slopes regularly.

Within the season, your off slope training sessions should focus on more hamstring work otherwise muscle imbalances at the hips and legs will occur, as frequent skiing develops the quadriceps.

It is important to ensure that your program is varied in:

  • Exercises,
  • Sets,
  • Reps,
  • And speed of movement.

Generally, if you are a beginner your exercise program should change every month. As an intermediate to advanced trainer the change should occur every 2 weeks.

To ensure your program is skiing focused you must concentrate on the following muscle groups and key exercises:

Hips and legs: Strong hips give you balance in lateral stepping motions and strong legs help you maintain the downhill tuck position. Key exercises: Front and back squats, step ups.

Hamstrings and lower back: Strong lower back will protect you from all the compression forces especially during landing. Hamstrings help maintain stability and balance. Key exercises: Deadlifts, Hyperextensions and hip extensions.

Deltoids (anterior, middle and posterior): Strong shoulders strong pole control – especially keeping the poles from flaring out when you ski. The extra muscle mass here will also provide shoulder stability when you fall. Key exercises: all forms of shoulder presses and deltoid raises.

Shoulder extensors (Lats, rhomboids, trapezius): Strong here and your starts, push offs and posture will improve. Key exercises: Pulls ups, vertical pulls and rowing variations.

Abs: Strong abs enable you to maintain upright and stable posture whilst skiing. Key exercises: SB crunches, Flat knee raises and MB throws.

Foot flexors in the shin (dorsiflexors): They provide control in edging and lateral motion. Strengthen them with the use of bands and pulleys – the exercises are often performed incorrectly so seek assistance.

Arm extensors: Used in all forms of push offs from the poles. Key exercises: All presses and dips using barbells, dumbbells, and cables.

Elbow flexors: Involved in pull control – especially when pulling your body towards your planted pole. Key exercises: All forms of bicep curls – standing or seated.

Putting it all together:

Beginner. 2sets of 10 reps/exercise Intermediate to advanced. 3-4sets of 6-8 reps/exercise
Back squat Front squat
Hyperextension Chin up
Open/close DB shoulder press Deadlift
Standing row Bench press
Flat knee raise MB throw
Dorsiflexion Dorsiflexion
Tricep pressdown Dips
Seated dumbbell curl Standing barbell curl

If you’re really committed to getting in shape for the slopes then it is also a time to readdress fat and carbohydrate consumption. Good nutrition will aid recovery allowing you to optimize your workouts!

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