Get Ready To Hit The Slopes With These Exercises

The first day back on the slopes is often brutal. I know my muscles like to yell “What have you done to me Kathleen?!”

The good news is, you still have time to prep your body–you don’t have to be exhausted and sore for days!

Whether you are a veteran on the slopes or a newbie braving the hills for the first time, the exercises below will strengthen your body so that you can ski and snowboard with (relatively) fewer aches and pains.

The details

Skiing and snowboarding are interval sports; you recover as you rest on the chair lift (or in the chalet) and then work intensely to whip down the hill.

The tricky thing is that you also need endurance to make it through an entire day of skiing or snowboarding.

Train your body to have endurance as well as strength and speed by doing these strength training exercises followed by one of the interval workouts below.

Strength training

1. The 1¼ squat

The 1¼ exercises mimic the leg motions needed for skiing and snowboarding. To do a 1¼ repetition you lower down toward the floor (or hill), come up slightly and then lower back down again.

Place your feet shoulder-width apart, feet parallel. Bend at your ankles, knees and hips and squat so that your bum moves toward the ground. Lower your bum until it is in line with your knees, or until your form breaks, whichever comes first. Hold at the bottom for a second then come a quarter of the way out of the squat before lowering yourself back down again. Engage your bum and flex your abdominals to return to standing. Repeat 10 times. To increase the intensity, hold weights.


Form tip: As you stand up, imagine you are using your legs and bum to push the floor away. This will help you engage your bum. Also make sure your abdominals are engaged.

2. The 1¼ lunge

Step your left leg backward into a lunge. This is your starting position. Bend both knees and lower your left knee toward the ground. Come up a quarter of the way and then return back down to the bottom of the lunge. Finish by using your right bum muscle to return to your starting position. Repeat 10 times and switch legs. 2015-11-10-1447122021-9890722-IMG_6921.jpg

3. Four-square reaction drill

Train your body to react to anything on the hill. No collision accidents allowed.

Stand on your right foot. Put four place markers in a square around your foot. Label them 1, 2, 3 and 4. Have a partner call out those numbers randomly. As they call out the number, jump to the corresponding place marker. Make sure to repeat on the opposite leg. 2015-11-10-1447122133-7102347-IMG_6927.jpg 2015-11-10-1447122195-2847759-IMG_6930.jpg 2015-11-10-1447122228-7570640-IMG_6932.jpg

4. Standing balance

Stand on your right leg. Your weight should be equally distributed through the ball of your big toe and the two sides of your heel. To perform the exercise, bend at your right ankle, knee and hip to sit into a single leg squat. As you squat, reach your left hand across your body so your fingers reach the outside of your right foot. Engage the bum muscle of the right leg to push you up to standing. Repeat 8 times and switch legs. 2015-11-10-1447122262-7204095-IMG_6935.jpg

5. Dead bug to stand

Train your legs and core to be able to stand up after falling on the hill with a Bosu dead bug to stand. If you are skilled enough that you never fall on the hill, do the dead bug part of the exercise. The bug works your core, and core strength is always important. 2015-11-10-1447122078-3110631-IMG_6918.jpg

Start with the Bosu dome side up. Lie your lower back on the Bosu. Lift your legs up in the air and crunch forward with your upper body. Balance in this position with all four limbs off of the ground for five seconds. Slowly lower one leg at a time to the floor. Then use your legs and bum muscles to stand up. Finish by bending your legs and lowering yourself back down onto the Bosu. Repeat five to ten times.

Cardio interval workouts

1. Progressive build

The length of the intervals gets longer as the workout progresses, making you work harder as you become more fatigued. This progression will help to mimic how your legs will feel by the end of a long day on the hill.

Warm-up for five minutes on any cardio machine. Then do one minute of hard work, one minute of recovery, 90 seconds of work, one minute of recovery, two minutes of work, one minute of recovery, three minutes of work, one minute of recovery, four minutes of work, one minute of recovery, five minutes of work, one minute of recovery. Cool down for five minutes.

2. Diminishing recovery

In this workout your recovery time decreases as the workout progresses. Again, this will mimic how your legs will feel at the end of a long day of skiing.

Warm-up for five minutes. Do 10 sets of two minutes of work followed by a decreasing amount of recovery. Start with two minutes of recovery. With each interval decrease your recovery slightly so that by the end of your 10 sets you are only doing 30 seconds of recovery. Cool down for five minutes.


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About Kathleen Trotter