Ted Ligety, 24, burst onto the ski world’s radar in 2006, when he captured Olympic gold in the alpine combined event in Turin, Italy. He proved he was no one-hit wonder by winning the World Cup title in giant slalom last year—success that he can attribute in large part to his power and agility.
“Ted’s explosive output is very high,” says U.S. Ski Team strength and conditioning coordinator Per Lundstam. “He does a lot of heavy eccentric lifting [emphasizing the lowering phase of a lift] that stimulates that.”
Ligety’s quickness and coordination serve him well in the technical disciplines (GS and slalom). But with his eye on a bigger prize—the World Cup overall title—his goal is to work on areas that might be holding him back in the downhill and super G, namely his muscle mass and aerobic endurance (longer distances at slower sustained speeds).
A solid aerobic base (gained through sustained cardio efforts) will aid Ligety in recovery—vital over
a long, intense season of skiing—and allow for even tougher strength, power and anaerobic endurance workouts. His preseason strength sessions are geared toward hypertrophy, a.k.a. bulking up. “I’d like to get bigger for added momentum, especially on flatter sections,” Ligety says. “It will allow me to bend my skis a little more easily—it won’t take as much effort to do the work I need to do.”
Improve aerobic endurance. Increase muscle mass. Maintain strength, power, agility and speed. If your aerobic endurance is weak, it’s likely because you—like Ted—aren’t fond of long, slow distance efforts. But eight to 12 weeks of aerobic work will pay off the rest of the year in more effective workouts and quicker recovery.
In the spring, Ligety pedals miles on his road bike to establish a good aerobic foundation. Whether you bike, run or swim, keep to a pace you can manage for 15 to 40 minutes without breathing too hard to carry on a conversation. Do three aerobic workouts per week for two or three months, gradually increasing both time and pace.
To add muscle mass, Ligety works one muscle group at a time; for example, doing several quad exercises before moving on to hamstring drills. He chooses a weight that allows him to complete 10 to 15 repetitions. “That’s best for hypertrophy,” he explains.
To see some of Ted's tried and true exercises, click here .
For Ted Ligety, miles on a road bike are the dues he pays so he can improve his performance in the workouts he really enjoys: anaerobic endurance sessions. In other words, he prefers short, intense efforts to long, slow ones. That’s why you’re likely to find him mountain biking in the off-season, tackling Utah rides such as Mid-Mountain—which traverses the 8,000-foot elevation of Deer Valley, The Canyons and Park City ski areas—and Bob’s Basin freeride trails at Park City. “Mountain biking is my main thing,” he says. “You’re constantly having to push yourself past your threshold.”