Strengthen Your Sides

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The last in a series of five exercises that will give you an edge on the slopes.

Even if you're fanatical about traditional stomach crunches, you could be neglecting some key trunk muscles, causing an imbalance. Strengthen your side or oblique muscles, and you'll fend off injury while increasing your ability to ski uneven terrain and absorb bumps and compressions.

How To Do It Lie sideways on a fitness ball. Position your legs to stabilize your body, one foot slightly in front of the other, bracing your feet against a wall if necessary. Pull your body up with your obliques as if you are trying to scrunch a tennis ball between your ribs and hipbone (see photo). Slowly lower to the starting position, and repeat 15 times on each side.

What It Does This exercise strengthens the internal obliques, which stabilize the body's core. Performing this exercise on a ball improves not only the strength but also the control of your torso muscles. If you don't have access to a fitness ball, try the exercise on the floor.

Emily Miller is a consultant to The Stone Clinic, an orthopedic surgery and sports medicine center in San Francisco. Miller helps train Olympic gold-medal winner Jonny Moseley and other elite athletes. Have a fitness question? Email Emily at


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Your Great Shape Up

Be in late-season form when the first flakes fall. SKI's pre-season training regimen will get you fit.