Smutty Fitness: 5 exercises to improve skiing
Ski season is just around the corner and with my favourite mountain, Whistler BC, scheduled to open November 22nd it is time to get the legs ready for some long days on the slopes. Every year I suffer my first day on the hill, having to stop multiple times to give my screaming legs a rest, no matter how fit I am! This year I hope it will be a better start for me and for you too! Add these fun exercises to your workout routine and I promise not only will day one be a breeze but walking on day 2 will be easy too! You can also add in this circuit with the wobble board to train your core during the same workout.
Position yourself against a wall, bending your knees to 90 degrees and sit up tall as if you were sitting in a chair. Hold it as long as you can -- try for 30 to 60 seconds and each day work on holding it longer. Add a medicine ball, holding it outstretched in your arms to increase the difficulty of the exercise or add dumbbell shoulder presses or bicep curls to up the challenge even more.
Balance Board side to side
This is a great exercise to work on your proprioception (your body’s ability to determine where it is in space) which will improve your efficiency as you fly down the hill. Start by standing on the board with one end on the ground and the other end up in the air (as if it were a teeter-totter). Find your body’s center and without allowing your hips or your upper body to move, slowly shift the board so the other side is now up. Do 10-20 each way, using your core to maintain a still upper body.
After you finish the side to side exercise now see how long you can balance without the balance board moving from side to side. Do not think about using your legs and your feet to control the board but rather your core muscles to keep your hips from rocking side to side. The legs are simply an extension of your core so use this exercise to feel that connection which will then transfer into your ability to use your core on the ski hill, taking a lot of the work out of your legs. When balancing becomes easy try doing squats on the balance board.
Single leg wall squats
One of the most important muscles required for skiing is your gluteus medius, which is what enables you to keep your skis in the correct position while you are making turns. This is my favourite exercise to strengthen those muscles. Stand sideways about 2 inches away from a wall with your feet hip width apart. Lift up the inside foot and place it against the wall, with your heel firmly pressed into the wall. DO NOT let your foot come off the wall, or slide down, for the duration of the exercise. You are now going to do a ¼ squat, sitting your hips behind you and keeping your knees in line with your second toe, ensuring the knees do not extend over the toes. Start with 10 and work your way up to 20 on both sides and do 2 sets with a 60 second rest between sets. (The second set you will begin on the side you finished with on the first set). Your butt will be screaming!
Bench lunges with lateral hops
Just in case your legs are not screaming yet finish off with these. Place one foot on a bench or box behind you and the other foot on the floor, in a lunge position. Drop yourself straight down in a lunge position, lowering your front leg as close to 90 degrees as you can. For 30 seconds you will hop your front foot from side to side, about 4 inches in each direction. When you have finished 30 seconds (or more if you want more of a challenge) hold yourself still and lift your front heel up and down off the floor for another 30 seconds. Repeat on the other side, again doing two sets with a 60 second break. (The second set you will begin on the side you finished with on the first set)