When it comes to working out, skiers know what to do: hit the quads, hammies, and glutes. We know—we sound like a broken record, but as boring as they are, there’s no getting around squats and lunges if you’re a skier. We need these basic yet highly effective moves to isolate and build strength in the big muscles of our legs.
But they’re not enough. You won’t improve your skiing just by getting stronger (though that will certainly help). You also need to focus on developing your fast-twitch muscles and motor control if you want to be an agile and dynamic skier. And trust us, you want to become a more agile and dynamic skier, especially if moguls are on your ski agenda.
“Having strong legs is obviously super important to skiing,” says professional skier Marcus Caston. But that’s even more true in the bumps, he explains, because “your leg muscles will be the first thing that start burning when you’re halfway down a mogul run.”
If your goal is to build all-around strength in your lower body, you should be incorporating a mix of moves that isolate and work key muscle groups along with agility or plyometric moves that rely on fast-twitch muscles.
“Your legs are your life in skiing, whether you’re absorbing terrain when you’re mogul skiing or pumping the breaks to come to a complete stop,” Caston says. Here, Caston outlines his go-to leg day routine that focuses not only on developing muscle strength, but agility and endurance. The moves are all simple enough, but when strung together—say hello to your new friend, lactic acid.
“If you want to ski moguls, you have to be quick,” Caston says. “This exercise helps develop your fast-twitch muscles and agility. Bonus: It will get your heart-rate up.”
- 30x two-footed fore-aft hops
- 30x two-footed lateral hops
- 15x one-footed fore-aft hops (right foot)
- 15x one-footed fore-aft hops (left foot)
- 15x one-footed lateral hops (right foot)
- 15x one-footed lateral hops (left foot)
Directions: Fore/Aft Hop
- Place a piece of tape on the ground (or a free weight, jump rope, or anything else you can safely jump over)
- Stand facing the piece of tape, feet shoulder-width apart
- Hop forwards and backwards over the piece tape with both feet; focus on jumping off both feet simultaneously, keeping feet and hips squared to front, and landing softly between hops. The goal here is speed while maintaining form
Directions: Lateral Hop
- For the lateral hop, begin by standing parallel to the tape, feet shoulder-width apart
- Hope sideways over the piece of tape, keeping feet and hips squared to front
“This simple exercise is one I’ve held on to from my racing days,” says Caston. This isometric hold will prove challenging after the hop sequence, but it will require your hamstrings, quads, and glutes to step up to provide stability especially when you’re tired.
Time: 30 seconds
- From standing position, shift hips back and bend knees to squat into tuck position; knees should be bent to 90 degrees and weight should be centered over heels
- Hold for 30 seconds
- Extra challenge: Shift weight side to side as if you’re carving a turn while maintaining low tuck position; or try adding a jump 15 seconds into hold by exploding out of tuck position and landing right back in tuck position
“This exercise is a classic, and you may hate me for including it, but lunges are so good for isolating quad muscles,” says Caston.
Reps: 30 reps (15x each side)
- Stand with feet hip-width apart, shift weight into standing leg while stepping one leg out in front of you
- Bend front leg to 90 degrees, keeping knee over ankle, chest and head upright and facing forward; back knee should hover just off the floor
- Push off front leg to return to starting position, then perform lunge with other leg forward
- Continue alternating for 30 reps total, 15 each side
- Extra challenge: Perform lunges with free weight in each hand to add resistance.
Time: 60 seconds
- Stand with back flat against wall and sink into wall-sit position by stepping feet out in front of you so knees are bent to 90 degrees
- Hold this position for 60 seconds; work up to holding for time