The best time to get your ski legs ready is right now—so get strong and fast before the snow starts falling. Here’s a broad overview of the types of exercises that you will want to incorporate into your ski-conditioning routine.
If you haven’t been training already, this is an ideal time for building up cardiovascular and leg strength on a bike—mountain, road, or stationary. Go for long rides (more than 60 minutes) 3-5 times a week.
To build muscle mass, choose an exercise intensity that causes muscle fatigue within 8 repetitions (3-5 sets). For endurance/strength (which most closely resembles the type of stress put on the body while skiing), choose an intensity that causes fatigue after 15-20 repetitions (2-4 sets) 3 times a week.
Exercises like box jumps, burpees, and short sprints are effective for getting all of the major muscles firing quickly and getting the heart rate up. To avoid injury, follow a strength-training program for a minimum of three weeks to build a solid foundation and only do power exercises after your body is warmed up. Do these early in your routine, when your muscles are still fresh, two times a week.
Draw a line or place a rope on the ground. Stand to one side of the line facing forward. Jump over the line, pushing off with the outside foot and land on both feet, then immediately jump back pushing off with the outside foot again. Continue jumping side to side for 30-60 seconds. Perform three sets.
You don’t have to jump far at first. Slowly build more distance. To increase the intensity, jump over a higher object and/or use one leg only. Always make sure you land on soft knees that are aligned directly over the foot.
Single Leg Squat
Using two ski poles for balance, stand on one foot, lower yourself down until your thigh is at least parallel to the ground, then raise yourself slowly. Keep the knee aligned over the ankle. Sit your butt back as you lower down and press up through the heel of the squatting leg as you come back up to standing. Do 10 reps per leg. Perform three sets. As your hamstrings strengthen, drop the poles and do 15 reps per leg.
Get into push-up position and then lower yourself onto your forearms. Find proper alignment—the back of your head, mid-back, and tailbone should all align. Hold for 30 seconds to three minutes depending on your current strength. Perform two sets.
Jackie Rainford Corcoran works at the Ridge Athletic Club in Bozeman and Big Sky Health and Fitness in Big Sky.