The snow has begun to fall in many areas of the country and the ski slopes have started to open up to the eager skiers who are ready to hit the slopes. You may well be one of the lucky people who’s going skiing this winter.
It’s a great sport to either enjoy from a competitive standpoint or if you’re just one to ski for fun with friends or family. But for those looking to make this a little more than just a jaunt down a snowy hill, hitting the weight room with moves specific to skiing can help develop leg and core strength to allow for better control, speed and traction while skiing. Use some of these exercises to implement into your weekly workout routine to help you become a better skier in no time.
How to Hit The Weights and Not Get Bulky
One of the main concerns that many associate weightlifting and weight training with is that they don’t want to get “too big”. If only it were that easy first of all, but second of all, the type of training that will go into becoming a better skier includes a lot of endurance work as well as some strength training. The hypertrophy portion for a skier is not as important because actual mass doesn’t really translate onto the skis. Added weight on the body decreases a number of things, including actual speed down the mountain as well as turn speed and jump height.
Making sure we target the endurance portion of weight training will be primarily the most important. Unlike other sports when short bursts of energy need to be expended like in baseball or football. Skiing requires constant movement for any given amount of time from half pipe runs to cross-country races.
The split for skiers is going to look like any other athlete’s split with a couple of upper body workouts as well as a couple lower body days with a day of core/abs work, as well as conditioning throughout the week on top of that. We’ll start out the week with strength-based compound movements to build a great foundation for strength and then finish the week with more endurance-based lifts to keep you ready for a long season on the slopes. Implementing some max effort type work is crucial for a good baseline for all of your lifts and keeping you injury free.
Monday: Upper Body – Endurance/Strength
1A. Dumbbell Bench Press w/Bands- 4 x 5
1B. Dumbbell Y/T/W’s- 4 x 8 each way
2A. Barbell Rows- 4 x 6
2B. Clean and Press- 3 x 10
3A. Battle Ropes- 4 x 30 seconds (alternate 1-arm slams with skier slams)
3B. Dumbbell Curls 21’s Curls- 3 x 21
3C. Plate Ooverhead Extensions – 3 x 15-20
Thursday: Upper Body- Endurance
1A. Barbell Snatches Press w/ 33% of 1RM- 4 x 15
1B. Rope Pullovers (emulate a skiing motion) – 4 x 15
2A. Deadlift Rows- 4 x 12-15
2B. Low Trap A’s or “Skiers” – 4 x 15-18 w/ 1 second pause at the top
3A. Plyometric Push-Ups- 3 x 10
3B. Jammer Press Rotational Presses- 3 x 15-20 each side
3C. Kipping Pull-ups- 3 x AMRAP
4A. Cheat Hammer Curls- 4 x 15-20
4B. Rocking Tricep Skull Crushers- 4 x 15-20
5A. Battle Rope Slams- 2 x 30 seconds
A skier’s body needs to be long and lean, enabling them to be aerodynamic both up and down and side to side. Yes, strength is still a forefront of the training protocol and this sets a good foundation for each athlete to build upon. But endurance lifting provides muscular endurance rather than short bursts of energy – similar to a downhill ski race in which the motions are repetitive yet monotonous throughout the ski.
The Key to Success: The Lower Body
Obviously the arms and core come into play within the upper body when skiing, but the real meat and potatoes come from the leg strength and leg drive in order to increase speed. The name of the game is getting to the hill the fastest or getting up in the air the highest, so in order to do this your leg explosiveness is equally as important. To train your legs to become a great skier, you must attack your routine from all sorts of fitness angles including strength, stability, balance and explosiveness so you can be a well-rounded athlete.
The beginning of the week will focus lifts more geared towards strength and some endurance training to give your core a great set of pillars to rely on. Later in the week, the leg work will look more like a plyometric session; with lifts more focused on unilateral movements to ensure balance and stability are as great as possible.
Tuesday: Lower Body- Strength/Endurance
1A. BB Squats 1 ¼ reps- 4 x 5
1B. Leg Press- 4 x 30
2A. Walking DB Lunges- 3 x 50 (25 on each leg)
2B. Swiss Ball Hamstring Curls- 3 x 25
3A. RDL’s- 3 x 15-20
3B. BB Lateral Lunges- 3 x 15-20 (each way)
3C. BB Calf Raises “21’s”- 3 x 21 (7 w/ toes straight, 7 w/ toes out, 7 w/ toes in)
Friday: Lower Body- Plyometric/Endurance
1A. BB Banded Deadlifts w/ 33% of 1RM- 5 x 10
1B. Box Jumps- 5 x 5
1C. Running Box Step-Ups- 5 x 30 seconds
2A. Hack Squats- 3 x 50
2B. Skier Jumps- 3 x 10 each leg
2C. Slide Board Ski Slides- 3 x 15 each way
3A. Running Single Leg Box Jumps- 3 x 3 (land with just one foot)
3B. Ski Hops w/ Feet Together- 3 x 20 each way
The lower body work is a little more intense than the upper body workouts described and this is intentional. Your leg power and strength must be something you can rely on, not only right out of the gates, but also throughout the race and through the finish line. If you feel you’re more quad or hamstring dominant, don’t be afraid to take out a lift and replace with one that meets your needs more closely.
Building a strong, powerful physique is a great way to get better for any sport, but the money is really in how you condition your body to perform the sport. Besides, having a stacked body but not being able to beat your opponents doesn’t make much sense. Ski conditioning can be greatly beneficial on the slope by simply just perfecting your runs throughout a practice or even with friends. But in the gym, your conditioning needs to be long, intense and purposeful. Use this sample conditioning workout to help improve your current conditioning state and get yourself ready for the slopes like never before.
✓ Warm-up- 10 min on exercise bike or treadmill
✓ Leader Runs- 1 x 5 speeds
Follow the leader on this and keep up with their pace. Once the leader of the pack has lead for 5 minutes, the next runner in line shall pass him/her and become the new leader. Repeat the process until all have lead for full 5 minutes
✓ Hill Runs- 3 x 50 yards
✓ Side Shuffle Runs- 3 x 40 yards (3 sets each way)
✓ Bounding Runs- 3 x 40 yards
✓ Single Leg Hops for Depth- 3 x 8
✓ High Skips- 3 x 25 yards
✓ Relay Runs – 6 round – Start by running 800 meters and then tag your teammate. They will run 800 meters and you will jog a 400-meter run in the meantime.
Take Home Message
You now know what it takes to become a top caliber skier and the work required inside the gym to be able to put up some top-notch numbers on the slopes. Know that your upper body strength is important to keep your poles moving strongly and quickly. The lower body work is almost more important to keep your base strong and stable, as well as balanced to hit and land jumps and to go in and out of tight turns. And keeping yourself conditioned is the glue that holds everything together.
The overall endurance you’re able to achieve is ultimately brought through hours of running and lifting weights specific to this sport. Use these tips and sample workouts to attack your in-season and off-season training and leave your competition in the powder you create.