Ullr-ly Training

Getting ski-fit.

Soon, Ullr—a Norse god associated with snow and skiing—will be visiting our beautiful mountains, covering them with snowy goodness. This means that it’s almost time for skiing. At Swiss Fit Montana, we train all types of skiers, from professionals to beginners. Here are some basics to get you started, no matter your skill level. 

Squats: Should be done at least twice a week, with a moderate weight. Nothing heavier than your body weight is necessary—we’re going for endurance strength here, not bodybuilding. 3-4 sets of squats, 15-20 reps per set. Rest no longer than one to two minutes between sets. Maintain a stance only a bit wider than your normal ski stance when cruising straight. Compress completely to just short of 90 degrees in the knees. Engage your stomach, stay flat-footed, and come up briskly without locking the knees, then compress right down again, and so forth.

Ski Racers: Jump side to side, landing on our outside edge foot and then tap the inside foot next to it and jump back to the other side. The jump should be approximately half your height. These are done for endurance strength also. While doing these jumps, it’s important to keep your core (belly button) centered over the jump area, just like you would while skiing. I would add these in after a week or two of squats, when you’ve built up some leg strength.

Split Jump Squats: This is a great exercise for the cross-country skier. Start in a lunge position with the back leg bent 90 degrees at the knee and bearing very little weight. Keep most of the weight on the front leg, foot very flat, and knee over the ankle, NOT over the toes. Keep all of the leg joints at 90 degrees in the down position. Explosively push the body up with the front leg, being careful to load the core so that your torso stays above the pelvis. Once airborne, shift the legs rapidly and compressively land on the new front leg, remembering to keep the supportive back leg bent and under the body. Repeat these leg-blasters for 30-45 seconds.

Russian Twists: These are the best abdominal exercises for snow sports, require twisting and turning. After working the core with 2-3 sets of standard sit-ups, move to the Power Plate, our piece of specialized training equipment, and grab some weighted sandbags for Russian twists. Grab a small weight—10-20 pounds—sit on your butt holding the weight in your lap, while bending your knees to about 90 degrees with the feet balanced in the air. Yes, you’ll have to lean back to hold this position. Then simply rotate the weight side to side, gently touching the ground with the weight or weighted ball you are holding. As you fatigue, you will begin to move forward and lower your legs—avoid this. Lean back, keeping your core tight and engaged as you twist back and forth. 2-3 sets of these to fatigue should do the trick.

Straight-Legged Deadlift: This is a nice addition to your training package, helping create a strong back and connect the powerful glute and hamstrings to the upper torso with more power. Using dumbbells, stand straight with legs straight and almost locked, feet about the apart about the length of your foot. Holding the dumbbells in front of the body, but close, flex your core and let the weight pull your upper body down toward your toes to near maximum depth. Flex your core again and while squeezing the glutes, straighten back up and repeat. Three sets of these should suffice.

Will Caton owns Swiss Fit Montana in Bozeman.