Hamstring Bridges

Ski Fit 0100 B

Third in a series of five exercises that will give you an edge on the slopes.The quadriceps are the muscles that scream the loudest after a hard day of skiing, so skiers tend to focus on them while training. But if you strengthen the quads and neglect the hamstrings, watch out. This leads to a muscle imbalance that puts you at risk of injury, especially to your knees. Hamstring bridges help bring your upper-leg muscles into balance.

How To Do It Lying on your back, place the left foot on the floor or bench and cross the right leg over the left thigh. Keeping the abdominals and glutes tight, lift your pelvis until you could draw a straight line from your left knee to your hip to your shoulder. Hold for one to two seconds; then lower slowly, but don't let your pelvis touch the floor. Repeat 10 to 15 times; then switch legs.

What It Does Strong hamstrings work together with strong quads to keep the knees stable. In turn, stable knees boost skiing performance and help ward off injury to the lower extremities.

On The Ball Using a fitness ball greatly increases the difficulty of this exercise. The hamstrings and torso are forced to contract powerfully to balance and stabilize the body. First try it with both legs on the ball. Once you have mastered the exercise with two legs, try it with one.

Emily Miller is a consultant to The Stone Clinic, an orthopedic surgery and sports medicine center in San Francisco. Miller helps train Olympian Jonny Moseley and other elite athletes. Have a fitness question? Email Emily at emiller@skimag.com.