Lift-accessed, alpine skiing has very specific fitness demands. According to Rob Shaul, founder of the Mountain Tactical Institute, an online fitness coaching resource center, one of the biggest requirements in skiing is eccentric leg strength. While skiing, gravity “bounces” you down the hill. From a strength perspective, your legs first fight gravity from being forced into the mountain, and then pop up, out of the hole, into the next turn.
"Early in my coaching career I learned the hard way that we can’t train eccentric leg strength with exercises like front squats and back squats. These train primarily 'concentric' strength—the strength it takes to press out of the bottom of the squat," says Shaul.
To train eccentric leg strength, Shaul recommends his "Quadzilla Complex” plan—a more intense complex of lunges, jumping lunges and squat jumps—while using dumbbells—to maximize its effectiveness. "There is a lot of loaded hopping and jumping in Quadzillas, causing the athlete to land under the force of loaded gravity, and rapidly slow their deceleration. In this way we train eccentric leg strength," explains Shaul.
This workout also boosts leg lactate tolerance, which is important to withstanding the fatigue of leg "burn" we feel at the end of a long, strenuous ski run or at the end of the day. Over the course of the plan, Shaul recommends increasing the overall number of the intervals you complete, as well as increase the work interval and decrease the rest time, to build up your lactate tolerance.
Lastly, this workout addresses another key fitness demand in skiing: core strength. Alpine skiing demands solid rotation, anti-rotational, and extension core strength, which is why this workout includes exercises like Scotty Bobs.
But beware: eccentric leg strength training is intense and you’ll likely be quite sore. Be sure to take recovery days between Quadzilla Complex workouts to give your muscles time to heal.
Ready to get started? Here's your 30-minute, ski fitness workout.
30-Minute Quadzilla Complex + Scotty Bobs Workout
The following will be your workout for Monday and Thursday during this four-week progression. Progression and focus are key to the design. Over the four weeks in this plan, we “progress” the volume of the Quadzilla Complex you complete. Same thing, only harder. Each week you will add an additional rep into your Quadzilla Complex (described below). All of these exercises should be able to be performed in under 30 minutes. No dumbells at home? No problem, doing these movements without weight will still be beneficial.
Warm-Up (3 Rounds)
- 5 x In-place Lunges
- 5 x Push Ups
- 5 Sit-Ups
- Instep Stretch
Quadzilla Complex + Scotty Bobs (6 Rounds)
(Females use 10-pound dumbbells; males use 20-pound dumbbells)
Week 1: Perform TWO sets of Quadzilla Complex + Scotty Bobs (listed below) for a total of six rounds with a 60-second rest between rounds.
- 2 x Weighted In-Place Lunges
- 2 x Weighted Jumping Lunges
- 2 x Un-Weighted Jumping Lunges
- 4 x Jump Squats
- 2 x Scotty Bobs (Push up, row right, Push up, row left = 1 rep)
Week 2: Perform THREE sets of Quadzilla Complex + Scotty Bobs for a total of six rounds with a 60-second rest between rounds.
Week 3: Perform FOUR sets of Quadzilla Complex + Scotty Bobs for a total of six rounds with a 60-second rest between rounds.
Week 4: Perform FIVE sets of Quadzilla Complex + Scotty Bobs for a total of six rounds with a 60-second rest between rounds.
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