Encouraging Health and Happiness

Keeping Slope-Ready During the Summer

Skiing is much more fun when you’re physically fit. “There is nothing worse than “having to head in early from the slopes because you’re tired or sore,” says William O. Roberts, who practices sports medicine in St. Paul, Minn.

In the off-season, he says skiers should focus on glutes, quads and hamstrings. He recommends inline skating, which hits those muscles, plus engages your core. Dr. Roberts, who has been skiing for 45 years and exercises year-round to keep in shape for winter, also emphasizes the importance of cardio. “You’re often skiing at altitude, so if your cardiovascular fitness isn’t there, you tank out,” he says. Rowing is his go-to off-season cardio exercise.

Jennifer Lockwood, the founder of Peak Fitness NW and a personal trainer and alpine ski instructor, developed Anne Meixner’s ski-specific fitness class. She recommends four exercises skiers can practice while waiting for the snowfall:

Curtsy or Cross Back Lunge

“A great exercise to strengthen the glutes, hamstring and quadriceps—all prime movers in skiing,” says Ms. Lockwood.

Similar to a backwards lunge, step back behind you, but at about a 45-degree angle, crossing behind your body. Then lower the back knee toward the ground, as if you are curtsying.

Lateral Line Hops

“While skiing, you are constantly changing direction,” says Ms. Lockwood. “This exercise enhances your quickness and agility.”

Hop laterally back and forth over a line, repeating for 20 to 60 seconds. Progress from two-footed hops to single-leg hops.

Try placing an object on the line to hop over (start small and then move up to six to 12 inches in height). Move over the object in a “hop, hop, stick” pattern, beginning the next series of hops only after you have planted both feet on the ground and regained your balance. “This combines quickness, power and balance into one exercise, much like skiing,” says Ms. Lockwood.

Stability Ball Knee Pulls

“In skiing, it is our goal to turn our feet and legs under a stable upper body,” says Ms. Lockwood. “This exercise strengthens the core muscles required to do just that.”

Lay face down with your feet on a stability ball and place your hands on the floor below your shoulders. The position should look like a plank pose, but with your feet on the ball.

Keeping your upper body stable, bring your knees to chest, pulling the ball forward as you do this. Extend back to a plank position, and then bring both knees to the right elbow, return to plank, then move both knees to left elbow, and repeat.

Stair or Hill Sprints

“Recreational skiing is a stop-and-go sport,” says Ms. Lockwood. She suggests short, high-intensity aerobic / anaerobic activities, like sprints, to replicate that stop-and-go movement.

Sprint for 20 seconds up a hill or stairs, at an exertion level of nine out of 10; followed by 40 seconds of running at a level of five out of 10. Repeat the cycle for 20 minutes.

—Jen Murphy


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