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Pre-Ski Fitness Training: Beyond squats, lunges, and a stationary bike

By Dr. Jessica Buja, physical therapist and owner of Mountain Range of Motion, LLC

As a physical therapist with 20+ years of clinical experience, I have worked with many patients that have said they wished they had known what to do to train their body before their injury.  Even individuals that are active and fit in one sport can have difficulty with a new activity that requires the use of different muscle groups.  Skiing is one of those sports that requires movement patterns and muscle groups that are not used as frequently in normal daily activities or other recreational sports.

At the Boston Snowbound Expo 2023 my team and I asked skiers “What are you doing to help get your body ready for ski season”.  The number one answer… nothing!  For those that had been training, the most frequent responses were squats, lunges and a stationary bike.  These are all great exercises that will help with strengthening your legs, but skiing requires more than just strong quads. Plus, how many squats and lunges can you do each day before you are bored and give up!

Skiing not only requires leg strength, but also core strength, agility, balance, cardiovascular fitness and flexibility.  Lateral movements (side to side movements) require control in different muscle groups than forward/backward movements.  Core strength as well as back and hip mobility are required in order to gain upper and lower body separation to be able to keep your legs turning with your upper body facing down the mountain. Single leg control is important on the slopes to maintain balance and control on variable surfaces, around obstacles and changes in visibility. Here are 3 exercises to add to your pre-ski routine today.

Lateral Movement:

  • Beginner: Side steps- Start with feet together, take a large step to the side and then with the other foot, step together alternating sides moving left and right.
  • Advanced: Skater jumps- Start with knees slightly bent, cross one leg behind the supporting leg then swing that leg out and jump to the side.  As you land, let the initial supporting leg cross behind your landing leg and repeat jumping side to side.

Core strength/ hip mobility:

  • Beginner: Low plank hold- Body in a straight line, elbows bent and under your shoulders, and feet hip width apart. Hold this position for 15-60 seconds.
  • Advanced: Low plank hip dips- start in a low plank position, rotate you hips to one side and dip your body to where your hip comes close to the floor; back to low plank and then repeat moving side to side

Single Leg Stability:

  • Beginner: Single leg stance- standing on one leg; you may need to start with holding onto a chair or wall until you are able to balance without support.  Repeat standing on the opposite leg.
  • Advanced: Single leg cup taps- Place a tall cup on the floor in front of you: Standing on one leg, keep your core engaged and bend at the hips (hip hinge) and reach down and tap the cup with your hand.  Come all the way back up into standing.  Perform equal reps on both legs.

Try out our FREE 10 minute trial class with the QR code below.

To join one of our pre-ski programs, register and book at: www.mountainrangeofmotion.com/wellness