Fitness: Back Burners

Back Burners

For a slideshow of exercises, click here.

It's ski-fitness gospel: Stability stems from a strong core, so we perform crunches and planks ad nauseam, often neglecting the other half of the core equation: our backs.

"Nearly every client I train could stand to strengthen his back, glutes and hamstrings, says Jackson Hole's A.J. Cargill, a former extreme skiing world champion turned personal trainer.

"Skiers often bend forward, which throws them out of proper ski position, Cargill says. Strengthening your upper and middle back and stretching your chest will help open up your shoulders and take strain off of your lower back. Your technique can also suffer if your lower back muscles are weaker than your abs. That can pull your pelvis out of alignment, which can lead to back pain and knee or neck injuries.

To stay balanced, mix one or two of these back exercises into every training session, Cargill suggests, especially if you're working your abs as well. Once you've mastered the basic exercises, add a ski-specific twist by moving to an unstable surface, such as an exercise ball, a Bosu trainer ( or a DynaDisc ( This will work your transverse abdominal muscles, which connect your back and your abs, and your spinal stabilizers, small muscles that help keep you upright. It makes the exercises tougher, but when you get to the mountain, you'll be tougher too.

Click here to see the exercises.