Downhill or alpine skiing provides an effective all-day workout that strengthens the cardiovascular system as well as the muscles of the legs, glutes and core. You can improve your skiing skills by practicing a variety of strength and balance exercises that also raise your heart rate. For the best results, always wear a helmet and appropriate clothing on the slopes, and get ready for a fun-filled ski season.
Improving Your Balance
All skiers benefit from practicing strength and balance-improving moves such as the single-leg squat. With your abs tucked and your eyes staring straight ahead, lift your left leg into the air by bending your knee, and lower yourself into a squat. Keep your chest raised, and don't let your right knee buckle inward. Push back up to standing through your right heel as you exhale, and squeeze your glutes at the top. Repeat the move 19 additional times and switch legs; perform two more sets on both sides. For the best results, avoid letting your knees go in front of your toes.
The Wall Squat
Although the wall squat doesn't feature a balance element, it effectively strengthens the muscles of the leg -- particularly the quads -- and mimics the skier's proper stance. Stand against a wall and place your feet and knees hip-width apart in front of you. Relax your shoulders, press them and your lower back into the wall and sink down until your thighs are parallel to the ground. Hold the pose for one minute, rise and rest. Repeat twice more.
Plyometric Lateral Jump Squats
Jump squats help your legs and glutes build explosive strength and mimic the hard turns that expert skiers must make on challenging trails due to trees, moguls or steep terrain. Squat down, with both feet on the ground, and spring up explosively to the side, keeping your feet and knees at the same width throughout the move. Squat again and jump back to your original position; repeat 15 times, and do two additional sets.
The Nicholas Institute of Sports Medicine and Athletic Trauma of Lenox Hill Hospital says all skiers should incorporate a stretching regimen into their workout routines for improved flexibility and ski skills. It recommends rotating the trunk, stretching the quads and calves; you can also achieve positive results through practicing yoga. Before you begin, consult a physician, especially if you suffer from back, hip, knee or ankle problems. Although performing these exercises results in better overall skiing-oriented fitness, you don't want to begin winter with a strength-training-related injury.
Lisa Bigelow is an independent writer with prior professional experience in the finance and fitness industries. She also writes a well-regarded political commentary column published in Fairfield, New Haven and Westchester counties in the New York City metro area.