Building Strong Legs for Skiers

Skiing is one of those sports that requires a combination of stamina and endurance, and quick precision moves.

Building strong skiers legsIn addition to regular strength, endurance and flexibility training, the best form of conditioning a skier can do off the slopes is plyometrics. Based on a series of jumping exercises, this explosive type of exercise trains muscles to contract faster and more forcefully, adding power and speed to your performance.

Plyometrics are a demanding way to train and places a tremendous amount of strain on joints and major muscle groups, especially the back and knees, and is not recommended for beginners. It is a physically demanding exercise that is ideal for athletes who have built up the strength, flexibility and balance to handle the demand. Once you’re at an advanced enough stage, plyometrics can be beneficial in preventing injury and improving overall performance. Please also take note that women are more susceptible to ACL injuries than men and should exercise extreme precaution.

Balance is the key to being a good skier and is a skill that can be developed with the use of a balance or wobble board. Having good balance for a skier means that your upper body is free to launch into those powerful push-offs coming out of turns and off moguls. Balance will add confidence to your game and allows for better grip in the snow and a more intuitive approach to the terrain. It goes without saying that a strong core is a must for high performance skiing.

Balance

If you’re not used to balancing on one leg, now is a good time to start practising. Using a pillow or balance board, practice balancing on one leg on the board without moving or falling over. Make sure you maintain proper alignment, keeping your core muscles flexed, and focus on your breathing. Once you feel comfortable with this move, try balancing on one foot on the board. Now you’re ready for the next move.

Round the Clock

Balancing on one leg on the floor, powerfully push yourself out as far as you can, imagining that you are standing at the centre of a clock, and hop back to centre again. Work your way through all the numbers, starting with 12, moving in a clockwise direction. When you’ve completed the circle, start again with the other foot.

Balancing Balls

With the aid of an eight-pound medicine ball, kneel on a fitness ball while holding the medicine ball and try to maintain your balance without moving. Again, focus on keeping those abs flexed and concentrate on your breathing to help with balance.

The next step is without the medicine ball. Try standing on the fitness ball without falling over. Gradually, add the medicine ball, so you’re standing on the fitness ball while holding the medicine ball. Having a friend spot you might be a good idea. When you get really good, practice jumping onto the ball from the floor, first without the medicine ball, then with the ball. First practice this move by jumping on stairs, a bench or chair (make sure it’s on a carpet or non-slippery surface).

Squat Jumps

Squatting down so that you can touch the ground, spring up as high as you can, land lightly on your feet and back into the squat for the next jump. Repeat about 10 times. Now you’re ready for lateral jumps.

Lateral Jumps

It’s a good idea to start by doing a few side-to-side stepping exercises before launching into this powerful move. Start by using a piece of tape, string or ski pole on the ground. Standing on one side of the marker, squat slightly and spring over the line landing back in a squat. Continue with these jumps for one full minute. When you’re ready to progress, change the marker for an obstacle like a shoe box, hockey bag or bench. Jump side to side and over the obstacle, just like before.

Power Hops

First practice this move by stepping off a stair and landing on two feet, before progressing onto one foot. For the power hops, start by standing on a bench or a 12- to 18-inch-high, sturdy box. Step off onto one foot and immediately jump up as high as you can, landing on the floor on the same foot. Repeat for one full minute and then change legs. When you’re ready to progress, increase the height of the bench or box.

 

Muscle Conditioning for Powerful Ski Legs

Before you hit the slopes this year, try some of these exercises to get you into tip-top shape.

Muscle conditioning for powerful ski legsUnless you’re out on the water surfing all summer or out on the streets skateboarding, your ski legs will feel a little shaky after the first day on le piste. So now would be a good time to hit the gym and dedicate some pre-season training to get those legs into shape.

If you already work out on a regular basis, try switching this routine out for your leg training day. It will hone your legs so that you’ll ski like a pro when everybody else is winded by the first run of the day.

The best type of training for strong ski legs is plyometrics. This explosive style of training will challenge even the most ardent athlete. But once you master the art of adding spring to balancing exercises, you’ll notice a difference in your reaction time on the slopes. If you’re an aggressive skier, this is important. This type of explosive training teaches the muscles to fire faster and with more strength, resulting in a more powerful and agile skier.

Plyometrics also help to improve balance, which is the key to being a good skier. It is a skill that can be developed with the use of a balance or wobble board. Having good balance for a skier means that your upper body is free to launch into those powerful push-offs coming out of turns and off moguls. Balance will add confidence to your game and give you better grip in the snow and a more intuitive approach to the terrain. It goes without saying that a strong core is a must-have for high-performance skiers.

Plyometric Training for Powerful Ski Legs

Balance

If you don’t have a wobble board or BOSU ball, then try using a pillow. Practice standing on the board on one leg without falling over. Make sure you maintain proper alignment, keeping your core muscles flexed, and focus on your breathing.

Round the Clock

These are like lunges that improve the balance of your standing leg and the strength of your lunging leg. Working your way in a clockwise direction, power out as far as you can into a lunge, landing delicately and with control on the foot. Hop back to center again. Work your way through all the numbers, starting with 12, moving in a clockwise direction. When you’ve completed the circle, start again with the other foot.

Balancing Balls

Exercise 1: You’ll need an exercise ball and a medicine ball for this exercise. While kneeling on the exercise ball, hold the medicine ball in both hands at the chest. As you try to secure your balance, focus on your breathing and keeping your core tight. Hold for 30 seconds.

Exercise 2: To add difficulty to this exercise, press the medicine ball out from the chest.

Exercise 3: Next, drop the medicine ball and try to stand on the exercise ball. Use extreme caution with this exercise.

Exercise 4: Practice jumping from the ground up onto a chair or stair, holding your crouching position for a count, then propeling back up and down to the floor.

Exercise 5: Repeat exercise 4 but use an exercise ball instead of a chair of stair.

Hold each exercise for 30 seconds.

Squat Jumps

These are squats with a spring jump. Squat down and touch the ground, then propel up as high as you can, landing delicately and back down to a squat to repeat. Perform these for a timed set of 30 to 60 seconds.

Lateral Jumps

Lay a ski pole on the floor and stand sideways to it. Next drop down into a squat and jump over the pole with feet together and back again, side to side for a timed set of 30 to 60 seconds. Use your hands to help with balance and speed. To add difficulty to this exercise, change the ski pole for a hockey bag or bench to add height to your jumps.

Power Hops

Standing on a step, chair or bench, drop down into a one-legged squat, then spring up as high as you can, landing on the same foot. Do this exercise for a timed set of 30 to 60 seconds, then switch to the other leg and repeat.