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

Instructions:

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
Forrest Jillson performs instep-stretch, part of his ski fitness workout

Instruction: From lunge position, lower hands to floor, placing them inside forward food. Make sure forward knee does not extend past toes. Deepen the instep stretch by lowering from hands on to forearms. 

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
Tess Wood performs weighted lunge

Coaching cues: Make sure forward knee does not extend pass toes of front foot; keep chest forward and upright.

  • 2 x Weighted Jumping Lunges
Tess Wood performs weighted jump lunge

Coaching cues: From lunge position, explode straight up into the air, keeping spine long and chest forward; land as softly as possible in opposite lunge position. 

  • 2 x Un-Weighted Jumping Lunges
Tess Wood performs unweighted jump lunge

Coaching cues: Make sure forward knee does not extend pass toes of front foot; keep chest forward and upright.

  • 4 x Jump Squats
Tess Wood performs jump squats

Coaching cues: Don't lower past 90-degree knee angle; ensure knees don't extend beyond toes; keep chest forward and upright. 

  • 2 x Scotty Bobs (Push up, row right, Push up, row left = 1 rep)
Forrest Jillson performs Scotty Bob, plank dumbbell row

Instruction: Get into plank position, using dumbbells as hand support. Make sure body forms a straight line from head to heel. 

Forrest Jillson performs Scotty Bob exercise

From plank position, lower into push-up. 

Forrest Jillson performs Scotty Bob exercise

From push-up, press back up into plank position while performing dumbbell row with one arm. Keep hips parallel to floor. Lower dumbbell, and perform another push-up to opposite row. 

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.

MTI Athletes: Forrest Jillson and Tess Wood.

Want more injury prevention tips and ski-specific strength and mobility exercises? SKI and AIM AdventureU teamed up with JC Cole, certified strength and conditioning coach at the Ski and Snowboard Club Vail, to design the online course, Ski Injury Prevention. Get access to the comprehensive eight-week training plan that focuses on increasing joint mobility, strengthening core skiing muscles, and building endurance so you can ski bell-to-bell and injury-free all season long. Register at skimag.com/injuryprevention.

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