Pillar of Strength

Build up trunk stability to move those skis where you want, when you want.

What separates experts from advanced skiers? Upper/lower body separation, and the ability to change directions and turn shapes at will. Watch expert skiers closely, and you’ll begin to notice that their legs and skis turn beneath them while their upper body stays perfectly stable—even over rough terrain and at mach speeds. The ability to resist those kinds of forces requires real strength, not just in the legs, as most skiers assume, but in your entire trunk.

“While skiing, your trunk must maintain its fall line position while the lower body rotates side to side to turn your skis. To make that happen, you need solid anti-rotation and stabilization from the trunk,” says Connie Sciolino, head coach and owner of the Alpine Training Center in Boulder, Colo.

Trunk stability is often confused with core strength, prompting skiers to focus on strengthening their abdominals and forget about the rest of the muscles of the trunk—your chest, upper and lower back, hips, glutes, hamstrings, and quads—muscles that are critical in helping you withstand the forces you work against while moving down the hill. When your trunk is stable, you’re able to move in the direction you want, when you want.

Ready to start turning your skis like an expert? Sciolino recommends starting with these moves that increase strength and stability in your entire trunk.

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Medicine Ball Mountain Climbers

Trunk stability exercise: medicine ball mountain climbers
Trunk stability exercise: Medicine ball mountain climbersIllustration:
  • Instructions: Get into plank position with hands balancing on a medicine ball. Keeping upper body stable and back flat, perform 30 seconds of mountain climbers.
  • Level up: Perform 6-10 pushups on medicine ball before moving into 30 seconds of medicine ball mountain climbers.

Plank Kicks

Trunk stability exercise: plank kicks
Trunk stability and strength exercise: Plank kicks. Illustration:
  • Instructions: Get into plank position (either on hands or forearms). From plank, kick left leg out parallel to left side while keeping upper body still; tap left toes to ground, then return left leg to starting position. Repeat with right leg and continue to alternate for 30 seconds.

Side Hip Bridge

Trunk stability exercise: side hip bridge
Trunk strength and stability exercise: Side hip bridgeIllustration:
  • Instructions: From side plank position (either on hands or forearms) with shoulders, hips, and ankles stacked in a straight line, lower hips to ground while keeping legs straightened. Raise hips to return to side plank to complete one rep. Repeat for 30 seconds, rest, then repeat on other side.
  • Level up: Immediately after side hip bridge, move into plank position (either on hands or forearms) and hold plank for 30 seconds. From plank, rotate to other side to perform side hip bridge on opposite side for 30 seconds. Then immediately move into regular hip bridge with upper body on mat, knees bent and shoes flat on floor; raise then lower hips for 30 seconds.

Meet Your Trainer: Connie Sciolino

Sciolino is the owner and head coach at the Alpine Training Center (ATC) in Boulder, Colo. She is a certified strength and conditioning coach with a master’s degree in exercise science. At the ATC she specializes in helping everyone from professional mountain guides to recreational skiers build functional fitness to take on the slopes and beyond.

SKI Mag is now a part of Active Pass, where you can find even more great fitness plans, recipes, and more. Sign up today.