Thoughts on Ski Conditioning

Standard

The big running season is over and now the snow is falling. It’s almost time to put the sticks on the feet and slide down a mountain!  Fun on top of fun! It might be a good idea to prepare myself as best as I can before I get out there. Here are some thoughts on how I might do that. Maybe they’ll help inform your own ski conditioning strategy.

Exercises should look a lot like skiing.

  • Some sort of squat should probably be employed, but a conventional barbell front or back squat may not be adequate. I discuss more of my thinking on this here and here.
  • Tri-plane movement must be considered. For example:
    Look at those joint angles. That is no mere squat.

    Look at those joint angles. That is no mere squat.

    • My hips will go back and forth between flexion + internal rotation + abduction on the downhill leg then more flexion + relative externall rotation + adduction on the uphill leg. The hip, knee and ankle joints must move well and the corresponding muscles must lengthen and contract repeatedly.
    • In addition to that hip movement, my thoracic spine should stay aimed downhill so I’ll be doing a lot of rotation through the trunk. Like the leg muscles, my trunk muscles must be able to manage the repeated loading that will happen.
    • I need adequate range of motion and control of that range as I move downslope.

Energy system conditioning

Good movement is massively important to good skiing. Adequate stamina is also a major consideration. I want to be able to last for a while and be able to have fun all day. If I fatigue too soon then it’s likely my movement skills will be compromised and I could get injured.

I have a good base of general endurance but I need to make it a bit more specific to skiing. A typical ski run involves powerful turning and management of variable terrain, sometimes for several minutes. Then I rest on the chair lift for several minutes and do it again. This cycle may repeat itself for several hours. Also, alpine skiing involves a lot more knee flexion/extension compared to running. My quads typically bear the brunt of all that knee movement so I’ll need to condition them appropriately. How will I do that?

Ski circuits

My plan is to put together several exercises that will target the muscles and movement patterns that are vital to skiing and I intend to them at a pace and for a duration that affects the appropriate energy systems. Here are some examples:

My most recent workout put together some conventional strength exercises and put them together with some ski-specific exercises in a super-set. It went like this:

Super-set 1

  • barbell clean + front squat: 1+5 (did as many reps as possible on the last set); two warm-up sets
  • pull-ups: 7 reps
  • 1-leg pivots aka balance reaches x 10/10 reps to each side; An example:
  • Repeat 3-5 times as fast as possible.

Super-set 2

  • Bench Press: 5 x 3 sets (did as many as possible on the last set); two warm-up sets
  • Various 3D jumps with the ViPR x 20 reps; Here’s an example of one version of the exercise using a sandbag instead of a ViPR:
  • Repeat 3-5 times as fast as possible

Super-set 3

  • cross court sprints on the basketball court x 4
  • odd-angle medicine ball squats; something like this:
  • Repeat 3-5 times as fast as possible.

There are lots of possibilities out there!

 

 

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