Nothing is as exhilarating as speeding down a snow-covered hill, your ski boots strapped onto a new pair of skis. And nothing can ruin the entire ski season like an injury. Reduce your chances of injuries and enhance your performance on the hill by strengthening your thighs. Using a resistance band, you can accomplish this, building muscular strength and endurance while improving your reflexes and coordination.
Why Use Bands
If you're going to train your thighs, you might think one form of resistance is as good as another. But resistance bands have an edge over free weights because they're less stressful on joints and tendons, the very body parts you're trying to protect by strength training your legs. Bands provide a little bit better workout, too, because when you train with bands, you get the effects of linear variable resistance; the resistance increases through the movement. Because a muscle's strength increases through the span of an exercise, the linear variable resistance with bands challenges the muscle in a more natural way than free weights do.
Once you've got your bands and set aside some time to work on your thighs, the only thing left to do is devise a workout. Strengthening your upper legs involves working the inner and outer thighs; it's also advisable to work your quads and hamstrings as well for optimum upper leg strength. Personal trainer Matt Siaperas recommends leg curls, leg extensions, squats, lunges and leg adductor and abductor exercises for his skiing clients, all of which can be performed effectively with resistance bands.
When to Start
You can't expect to start training with your bands on Monday and have thighs that are ready to hit the hill on Saturday. If you wait until the first snowfall before you start conditioning, your ski season could very well end up being a short one. Personal trainers advise training year-round and kicking it into high gear about two months before you need to be in top shape. If you don't have the time or the inclination to work with your resistance bands all year long, plan on it taking at least three months to get your thighs into peak skiing condition.
Beyond the Thighs
Your thigh muscles aren't the only ones serving you when you ski, as your entire aching body will attest to after the first day of ski season. To really make sure you're in the best shape possible to ski, work your entire body, not just your legs. Arm exercises will improve strength for planting and managing your poles, core exercises will help with control and maneuvering and, with back exercises, will also help with flexibility and support.
- Medline Plus: Back Pain and Sports
- The Stretching Institute: Snow Skiing Stretches and Flexibility Exercises
- IDEA Health and Fitness Association: Ski Conditioning Boot Camp
- Ski: Are Bigger Muscles the Way to Better Skiing?
- Matt Siaperas; Personal Trainer, Hardbodies Gym; Blackfoot, Idaho
- Karl Weatherly/Photodisc/Getty Images