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Why 6-Pack Abs Won’t (Necessarily) Make You a Stronger Skier

You need to strengthen more than just your anterior core muscles to improve your skiing and protect your back.

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When it comes to functional fitness for skiing, we talk a lot about the importance of trunk stability. That’s because the muscles of the trunk—basically everything on the front, back, and side of the body from the neck down to the knees—are the muscles keeping you upright and stable when gravity and terrain are working against you on the slopes.

Skiers understand this—or at least, think they do—and so they include core work in their gym routine. They diligently exercise their core with sit-ups and crunches, traditional moves that are great for strengthening the anterior core, or what we think of as the six-pack muscles. But those muscles are just one part of the trunk and can’t support your athletic stance on the hill on their own.

To make your body stronger and more stable for skiing, you need to hit the deep core muscles as well as the muscles of the hip complex. Together, these muscles make up the bulk of your trunk and not only help you move and balance on skis, but help protect the muscles of the low back—an area where many skiers feel pain during or after skiing.

Related: Your back hurts after skiing because you’ve neglected your core and glutes

You don’t want to ditch moves like sit-ups altogether. You just need to make sure you’re combining moves that target the anterior core muscles with exercises that work the deeper core muscles, like planks and moves that require the core to rotate or work against resistance to stabilize itself.

Connie Sciolino, owner and head coach of the Alpine Training Center in Boulder, Colo., has three go-to moves for skiers working on trunk stability: hanging knee-raises, plank rotations, and atomic sit-ups. Incorporate these into your regular workout routine or perform Sciolino’s core blast workout on its own, and you’ll be able to tell that you’re working more than just your six-pack muscles.

Watch: Core Workout for Skiers

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