A Procrastinator's Guide to Ski Fitness

There's still hope for getting in shape for ski season. Here's how.
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If you didn’t leave your couch all summer, you’re going to have a rough time on the slopes this year. We got with Mountain Tactical Institute athletes Rob Shaul and freeskier Hadley Hammer to get inspired with a get-fit-quick workout. A quick word to the wise: this workout is no joke (it was designed for dedicated skiers) and requires at least a basic level of fitness. If you really haven't done anything all summer, you may need to modify the number of reps and sets recommended in this workout to match your current level of fitness—and that's okay! Start with a realistic number of reps and sets for you, but keep track of your numbers and build on those each week. 

The Workout

Starting with 3 sets per exercise, try this workout three times a week right up until you’re skiing. For best results, work your way up to 6 sets with one active day of rest in between.

Warm Up 

Perform 4 sets of the following:

  • 10 squats
  • 10 push-ups
  • 10 sit-ups

The Quadzilla Complex 

This is a 3-exercise body-weight leg circuit, performed back-to-back in quick succession:

Hadley Hammer, Ski Workout, Quadzilla Complex

Hadley Hammer models the first exercise in the Quadzilla Complex move: the in-lace lunge. First perform 5 stationary lunges on one leg, then switch legs to perform 5 on the other side. From there, move into jumping lunges. 

  • 5 in-place lunges: Do the lunges 5 times each leg, as each lunge counts as half a rep. For the in-place lunges, it's important to step forward into the lunge, not step back, and touch your knee to the ground each rep.
  • 5 jumping lunges: For the jumping lunges, ensure the back knee touches the ground each rep, explosively hop up and switch your feet in the air, then drop down into the next effort. Control your descent­–don't slam your knees.
  • 5 squat jumps: Start in standing position, feet hip-width apart. Lower into squat position by bending knees while pushing hips back; keep weight over heels and ensure knees are stacked over ankles. Once in squat, explosively jump up and thrust hips forward, then land softly back in squat. 
  • 30-second rest

EO's

Mid-section strength and strength endurance are key to skiing performance and skier durability. EO's are a 3-in-1 exercise, training flexion, isometric, and rotational core strength.

Hadley Hammer, Ski Workout, EO's

EO's are awkward looking and a little awkward to perform, but they'll challenge your core muscles big and small. Start by lying on your back, then shuffle your whole body sideways by rotating hips and shoulders in opposite directions. 

  • Lay on your back with your feet off the ground and knees bent
  • Move yourself across the floor horizontally by shuffling first with your butt, then following with your shoulders
  • Make 10 shuffles in one direction, then 10 shuffles back

Related: Core Moves for Skiers 

Calf Raises

Calf strength and strength endurance is an often overlooked component of skiing fitness and performance.

Hadley Hammer, Ski Workout, Calf Raises

For calf raises, stand on a step or ledge, heels hanging off edge. Engage glutes, hamstrings, quads and calfs to lift yourself up. 

  • Stand with the balls of your feet on a ledge such as a step or on a block
  • Drop your heels as far as possible, then drive up onto your toes as high as possible
  • Complete 25 reps

Forearm Plank Rotation with Push-Up

Combine core and upper body strength in this next exercise.

Hadley Hammer, Ski Workout, Side Plank with Push-UP

For the first part of this move, start in a forearm side plank on right side; hold for 30 seconds, then move straight into push-up position. Perform 5 reps, then fluidly move into forearm plank on left side. 

  • Start with a 30-second forearm side plank on your right side; make sure elbow is directly below your shoulder, hips and feet are stacked
  • After 30 seconds, move fluidly into 5 pushups
  • Then rotate to forearm plank on left side
  • Perform another 30-second side plank on the left side

Poor Man's Leg Curl

Skiing is quad dominant, which can lead to a strength imbalance in the glutes and the backside of the leg. The Poor Man's Leg Curl trains these backside muscles, decreasing the chance of injury.

Hadley Hammer Ski Workout, Poor Man's Leg Curl

Don't forget to work your backside muscles. These agonist muscles are important for balancing out quads and shielding knees from critical injury. 

  • Lay face-up and place the heels of both feet on a bench, box or chair
  • Scoot your butt toward the bench so there is a 90-degree bend in your knee. 
  • Place your hands at or behind your head
  • Press your heels into the top of the bench and drive your hips to the sky until they are fully extended. Drop back down until your butt touches the ground
  • Repeat 25 reps

Keep reading: 3 Common Ski Injuries and How to Prevent Them

Watch: Hadley Hammer models the workout

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