Wednesday, October 13, 2010
Now that the peaks around Aspen are dusted with snow, it’s time to start planning your ski trip. This also means it’s time to start thinking of a ski conditioning program that will allow you to get the most out of your time on the slopes. Even the most well-conditioned individual will experience soreness and fatigue after their first days of the season. While the reasons for this vary, one thing we all have in common is that most “traditional” activities we participate in during our time away from skiing, be it running, biking, squatting, lunging, etc, lack the lateral movement present in skiing. When you think about turning down the hill, it’s quite obvious why many traditional exercises won’t prepare you for skiing. During a ski turn, a person ideally would place about 80% of their weight on their down hill ski. This requires a lot of strength in the outside of the quadriceps muscle. So developing lateral strength and endurance in the legs is a fantastic way to start developing a ski conditioning program. Some great exercises to develop lateral strength and endurance are side squats, roller-blading, ice skating, side-plank, and simply jumping over an object from side to side. When performing these exercises it is a good idea to practice good skiing posture. This involves keeping the abdominals tight,shoulders squared, with an upright posture from the waist up, all while keeping your hands out in front like you’re driving. This leads us to two other key elements in a ski conditioning program, those being core strength and balance. In order to achieve and maintain the aforementioned “ski posture,” it is crucial to develop strength in the abdominals and lower back (core) and to develop good balance. This can be achieved through all sorts of abdominal workouts and balance exercises. Some of my favorite abdominal exercises are leg lifts, planks, and the “ab-wheel.” Balance can be developed in a number of ways, such as simply balancing on one leg, using balance balls on which you can perform various excises, and using a balance board, just to name a few. I also find it very helpful to incorporate both muscle building and endurance exercises in your program. By building strength you will be able to respond quickly on challenging terrain and prevent injuries. Endurance will help you go the distance at high altitude. Of course the best way to get into shape for skiing is, well, to ski. But by placing an extra emphasis on lateral movements, core strength, and balance in addition to your traditional workout, you can rest assured that you will be best prepared to get the most out of your ski trip in Aspen and leave your friends in the dust!