When preparing for ski season, it’s important to get toned up, as this will enable you to have more fun and be more active on the slopes. The main muscles to target are your core abdominals, and your leg muscles; particularly your thighs and hamstrings.
In this article, we’ll share some top tips and exercises, including our favorites: exercises with resistance bands. Olympic skier Benedikt Mayr uses resistance bands when training and preparing for ski season, and we’ll show you how you can do the same.
Note: We recommend you warm up with a few minutes of cardio before doing these exercises.
Quick and Easy Warm-up
Do at least 10 minutes of cardio warm-up before other forms of exercise. Jumping jacks, a quick run or jog, knee lifts, dancing – whatever you enjoy that increases your heart rate and gets the blood pumping.
Calisthenics exercises are brilliant because you don’t need the gym, and you don’t need weights; you’re using your body weight to work out.
Here are some of our favorite exercises:
- Leg lunges*: 25 on each side, both forward and lateral lunges. Keep your upper body straight during these exercises.
- Wall sits: 1 minute at a time. Keep your back against the wall and your feet flat on the ground. Keeping your legs at a 90-degree angle, hold the position.
- Squats: 15-20 at a time.
- Squat jumps: 15 at a time. These really work your thighs!
- Plank: Work up to 60 seconds to impact your core muscles. Avoid putting too much pressure on your shoulders. Your hips should be level with your head rather than too high or too low. If you feel any back pain, skip this exercise and try other core exercises where your back is on the ground (e.g., scissoring your legs, or leg lifts, keeping your back flat on the mat).
*With any exercises where you’re bending over your knees, make sure your knees do not go further forward than your feet. You want your knees to stay flexible but not so much so as to cause injury.
Exercises with Resistance Bands
Resistance bands are a great way to not only prepare for your ski trip, but to keep in shape in your downtime while you’re visiting the slopes.
Resistance band exercises are very beneficial for everyone, even if you’re recovering from an injury. These exercises are much easier on the joints than using weights, and resistance bands are easily portable: just pop a resistance band like this one in your bag, and you’re ready to work out anywhere.
Our Favorite Resistance Band Exercises for Ski Training
These really work your hip muscles, which in turn helps you maintain the right position while skiing. Lie down on one side on the floor, with your legs bent at a 90-degree angle. Put the resistance band just under your knees. Lift your top leg as if you were opening a clam shell, hold it at the top, and lower it so that it almost touches your other leg. Start with 10 reps each side.
Stand with both feet a little more than hip-distance apart, and the resistance band just under your knees. Walk from side to side crab-style, keeping the band tight throughout. Take 10 steps in one direction and then 10 steps in the other.
Leg Extensions (Seated)
These strengthen your quad muscles and protect the ligaments around your knee joints. Seated on a chair or bench, step on one end of the resistance band and loop the other end around the top of one foot. Extend that foot out to straighten your knee. Hold at the top, bring it back down, and repeat. 10 times each side.
Tibia Raises (aka AT Raises, Seated)
Tibia raises strengthen your tibia muscles that run along the front of your lower legs. Sit on a bench or chair, with a heavy object on the ground, about 3 feet in front of you. Tie or fix one end of the resistance band on or underneath the object (e.g., a barbell), and loop the other end around the front of your foot.
You want the object to be far enough away from you so that you can flex and point your foot with your leg straight, and the band stays tight. You’ll feel your tibia in action, which is fabulous because these muscles don’t often get a workout!
Leg Extensions (Standing)
Standing straight, loop the resistance band around the sides of your feet. Keeping your legs straight (you may want to hold onto a wall for support), extend one foot out to the side and back down again. These are medial extensions. Do this 10 times for each side.
For lateral extensions, extend one foot on a diagonal in front of the other (turning your hips slightly as you move) to further work your thighs.
Bring Your Workout to the Slopes
When preparing for ski season, it’s important to ensure you do your exercises and know your level! Not only will you be in a better position to avoid the most common ski injuries, but you’ll also be in great shape for skiing.
Bring your resistance band with you so that you can warm up your legs with a lighter version of the above exercises before heading out into the cold snow.
Have fun on the slopes!