Skiing is a fun, exhilarating sport, not to mention a fantastic lower-body workout. Rather than just showing up at the slopes, it's best to prepare yourself as much as possible for the physical demands of the sport. Skiing requires muscular strength, a lot of endurance and enough balance and athleticism to prevent wiping out and getting a face full of snow. There are several leg exercises that you can do ahead of time to get yourself in great skiing shape.
Skiing makes heavy demands on the leg muscles so it's very important to have them in tip-top shape before hitting the slopes. Exercises such as squats, single-leg squats, lunges, leg presses, leg curls and leg extensions are all effective exercises. Strength exercises should be performed three nonconsecutive days per week. For the best strength gains, use heavier weights for two to three sets of six to 12 repetitions.
Endurance will likely be your biggest foe out on the slopes and lead to a much-needed break in the lodge. However, if you work your legs ahead of time you have a much better chance of keeping fatigue at bay. While skiing involves its own unique movements, you can train with other activities that work the same leg muscles. For example, try jogging, cycling, hiking with lots of downhill walking or stair climbing for 30 to 60 minutes a day to get your legs ready for an entire day on the mountain.
Body-weight exercises are also effective for improving muscular endurance. Exercises such as air squats and wall sits will target your skiing muscles. Aim for 50 to 100 reps of the body-weight exercises and one to two minutes of holding exercises like the wall sit.
Although you likely don't have any plans for screaming down a mogul-packed slope, adequate leg power is still a necessity. Powerful legs can help you clear obstacles on the trail as well as get your skis turned away from the approaching tree line. Squat jumps, jumping rope and box jumps will all help develop the leg power necessary for skiing.
Stability is one of the most important assets you can develop before leaving for your first ski trip. While skiing is great fun, it can also be the cause of some pretty serious injuries if your body isn't ready for the demands. Because of this, it's crucial to include exercises that improve the stability of your knee and hip joints. Try lateral jumps in which you jump from side to side over a box or other object on the floor. Single-leg lateral jumps require you to use one leg at a time to jump as far to your right as possible then as far to your left as possible. Continue to jump back and forth as quickly as you can. One-leg stands on a Bosu ball for as long as possible will also improve your leg stability.
- Essentials of Strength Training and Conditioning, Third Edition; Thomas Baechle, et al
- Nicholas Institute of Sports Medicine and Athletic Trauma: Getting Ready for That Ski Trip
Jen Weir writes for several websites, specializing in the health and fitness field. She holds a Bachelor of Science in exercise science from Montana State University, is an NSCA-certified strength and conditioning specialist and maintains a personal trainer certification from the American College of Sports Medicine.