Leg Exercises for Skiers

Knees bent at or about 90 degrees is the ideal skiing position.

Knees bent at or about 90 degrees is the ideal skiing position.

The legs of skiers are pressed with demands that are much different than the legs of other female endurance athletes. The demands on the legs of road cyclists or distance runners, for example, are primarily straight forward and up and down. The legs of skiers are forced to endure intense lateral movements while withstanding the fatigue of sustaining a balanced power position. Women skiers' legs remain deeply bent at the knees for minutes at a time as the weight of their body rolls from one leg to the other in fast, repetitive motions. As beautiful as ballet, skiing is equally demanding of a woman's legs.

Jump laterally. Put your legs together and jump from one side to the other. Bend your knees to 90 degrees and jump as far as you can from one side to the other. Lateral hops mimic the movement of transitioning your weight from one ski to the other, they build strength in your thighs and buttocks and create flexibility in your knee and ankle ligaments. Equally as important, lateral hops develop endurance.

Perform walking lunges. Put your hands behind your head -- to develop balance -- and take long steps that force you to bend your front leg to 90 degrees with your trailing leg extended behind you. Walk to the end of a room, rotate on the balls of your feet -- in the middle of a lunge -- and lunge walk back across the room, rotate around, continue and repeat. The rotation also promotes balance. Lunges develop your hamstrings, buttocks, thighs and lower back.

Perform squat jumps by lowering your buttocks to the back of your calves and exploding into the air as high as you can jump, hands extended above your head. Land, squat and repeat the motion. Squat jumps exercise the entirety of your legs. Jump squats are a modification of traditional squats, which are a staple of powerlifting. Like lateral jumps, jump squats build endurance.

Practice a series of broad jumps. Stand, broad jump, regain your balance, broad jump ... over and over. For each broad jump, squat to 90 degrees, swing your hands behind your back with your arms straight, swing them forward and jump as they pass your hips. Like all repetitive jumping exercises, broad jumps develop endurance. Repeating broad jumps also develops balance recovery by creating the muscle memory necessary to move weight forward off your heals -- which is a dangerous position to be in while skiing -- and up to the balls of your feet where skiers always want to have their weight positioned.

Items you will need

  • Tennis shoes (optional)


  • Although tennis shoes aren't necessary, they do help increase the impact your hips knees and ankles sustain when jump training. Another option is doing your jump training on grass or a wrestling mat.
  • Beginning your training a few months before opening day of the ski area is adequate, but if you're serious about being in great shape for ski season, you should jump train the entire offseason. It's especially effective when used in a cross-training regimen; add biking and hiking to your jump training regimen to keep your routine fresh.

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