**Learn how to get ready for the ski season with these three exercise ideas from Katie Levy, a member of our #TeamSierra blog network.**
It snowed in Philadelphia this week! Hooray! With that snow comes the promise of ski season, and for a lucky few in states like Colorado, it's already started. But there's still time to be sure you're in top condition to enjoy every minute on the slopes. Any exercise or that builds strength in your quads and hamstrings, endurance, flexibility, core stability, explosive power, and balance will help you get ready. Though most pre-ski season workouts involve things like squats and running, there are a few key variations to common exercises you should be sure to add to your ski season training program.
Though bodyweight and back squats are great, the front squat is an often overlooked, but important variation. In contrast to back squats, which involves placing the barbell on your upper back, front squats involve placing the barbell in front of your head on your shoulders. Front squats place more emphasis on the quads and provide an added challenge to your lower back and core; you must stay tight to prevent your back from rounding.
Performing the front squat: Set up a barbell in a squat rack just below shoulder height. Dip under the bar, position your hands evenly just outside your shoulders. Bring your elbows up in front of the bar and as close to parallel to the floor as possible. When you pull the bar off the rack, it should be close to your throat. The weight should rest almost entirely on the meaty part of your shoulders and not be supported with your hands. Position your feet shoulder width apart, at minimum, toes slightly turned out. Think "chest up, back tight, elbows high." Tighten your back and sit back on your heels. Keeping your knees out, squat down below parallel, then stand up while pushing your knees out. Don't allow your knees to buckle or allow your knees to track in front of your toes.
Pro tip: If you have trouble keeping your elbows up, make sure your hands are relaxed and release a few of your fingers from the bar. You only need one or two fingers around the bar on each side. If your elbows are low, or dip when you squat, it'll be a challenge not to lose the weight forward. And stretch your wrists and triceps!
Pistols (Single Leg Squats)
When we ski, we need our legs to be independently strong, we need good balance, we need to be flexible, and we need to be coordinated. Pistols, or single leg squats, address all four of these skills.
Performing the pistol: Keeping your weight on your heels, lift one leg off the ground and, keeping the "up" leg straight out in front of you, lower on the "down" leg until your hip crease passes below your knee, then stand back up. Keep your "down" knee slightly out and don't let that knee pass too far over your toes and be sure to keep your "down" heel on the ground at all times. Alternate on both legs.
Pro tip: Can't do a pistol yet? Not to worry; there are a variety of progressions you can use to work up to a pistol. Try single leg step-ups, pistols on a box, assisted pistols and rolling pistols, all described further in this Tabata Times article. Again Faster has a great video tutorial as well.
Wall Ball (Wall Ball Shots)
Wall balls are a great way to build leg power and endurance, which we know come in handy for super long runs and even on hikes to backcountry ski destinations. Being explosive out of the bottom is key.
Performing the wall ball: Stand an arm's length away from the wall with your feet in a squat stance (feet shoulder width apart or wider, toes slightly turned out) with a large, preferably soft medicine ball. Keeping the medicine ball close to your chest and your elbows high, as with the front squat, squat down until your hip crease passes below your knee. Keep your weight on your heels and your chest high at all times. After you've reached the bottom of the squat, push hard through your heels and explode up through full hip extension as you throw the ball toward the wall above you. Try to hit a target on the wall between eight and ten feet high each time for accuracy. Develop a good rhythm and cadence.
Pro tip: Try to do as many as you can without dropping the ball and keep a steady breathing rhythm. The more explosive you are with your legs, the easier this exercise is on your shoulders.
What other exercises do you use to train for skiing that might be out of the ordinary? I know we can all use some help as we get ready to hit the slopes!
Of course, all material in this article is for informational use only. It's always a good idea to perform weightlifting movements with a partner and/or spotter. Any exercise you read about on this site are to be attempted at your own risk. Enjoy and have a great ski season!
3 Exercises for Ski Season Training
By Katie Levy
November 15, 2013
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