Words by Alta athlete and University of Utah Exercise Physiology Major, McKenna Peterson
It happens to all of us; the fire in your quads, ache in your lower back, cramps in your feet… the first few days back on skis can be painful. Really painful. We all know it’s coming, but very few of us actually make the effort to prepare our body for the season. I have heard it many times; the “I will ski myself into shape early season and be good to go by January” comment. NO. Not a good idea. Sure, you will feel strong and able by January but imagine how much more strength you will have if you train for the ski season and start strong in November. Pre-season training will also decrease your chances of injury. Sitting on the sidelines with an injury while your friends get first chair is not fun for anyone. So, get outside, get active, and prepare your body for a powder filled winter!
Here are the basics for pre-ski season training:
Squats Squats Squats Squats. Time spent in the gym lifting weights can be very beneficial for your overall strength. Squats, dead lifts, and olympic lifting will develop leg strength and total body power. Proper technique is key when performing these lifts. You do not want to get hurt in the gym, so ask for help. Spend an hour with a personal trainer, they will show you the basics and I promise it will be worth it. I am also a big proponent of Crossfit. Despite all of the controversy, I truly believe Crossfit to be one of the best training activities for skiing. Check it out for yourself: http://www.skinet.com/ski/article/crossfit-skiers
Plyometrics = Speed+Power, both of which are essential to skiing. This is also known as “jump training”. Have you ever seen the ski team kids jumping onto and off of picnic tables for dry land training? There is a reason for that. Plyometric training works to improve your muscle explosiveness. Go outside and repeatedly jump up onto something (make sure it is stable). Again, make sure you are using proper technique in order to avoid injury. More info here.
Rock climber? Go spend some time bouldering, the power generated from those high energy, high speed moves is great ‘explosive’ training.
Endurance. Or, what I like to call non-training, training. My endurance activities usually include mountain biking, trail running, hiking, or climbing long multi-pitch routes. All incredibly fun activities. And all of which provide incredible benefits to skiing in addition to increasing cardiovascular and pulmonary endurance. Trail running and hiking help to progress terrain analysis skills, mountain biking can improve confidence with attacking technical moves with speed and fluidity, and rock climbing will increase comfort with exposure while teaching good decision making. Get your heart beating while having fun!
Flexibility. Seriously, don’t forget to stretch. Imbalance of strength and flexibility can cause injury. It is important to stretch as you strengthen, especially in the muscles of the legs. Yoga has a million benefits other than flexibility that I could go on and on about. But, for the purpose of this blog post, yoga is a great way to loosen up tight muscles with active stretching. Give it a try, a lot of studios in the valley will let you try your first class or even first week for FREE.
Whatever you end up doing, remember to enjoy yourself and make sure you are using proper techniques. We will be skiing Alta’s famous shoulder deep pow before we know it!
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