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Hey, you’re a skier. Which means you prefer your water cooled to zero degrees and dropped like shredded paper from the clouds-ideally in accumulations of at least two feet. Pool workouts probably conjure up disturbing images of Ethel Merman in a flowered swim cap, fluttering her toes and pinching her nose.
Now picture an ultrafit world-class skier like Evan Dybvig, two-time U.S. national moguls champ and two-time Olympian. Dybvig started working out in the water to rehab after arthroscopic knee surgery in 2000, but now he actually trains in the water at least three times a week. “Working out in the pool forces me to work from my core-my back and abs-in a way that nothing else can,” says Dybvig. Core strength is important for most sports, but without it, high-level skiing is impossible. “I also love it for low-impact workouts,” he says. “It’s way more fun than spinning the pedals on a bike.”
“‘It’s not hard enough’ is what I hear all the time,” says Bill Knowles, director of Team Performance International (TPI) in Littleton, New Hampshire. “Water training for skiing can be as challenging as any strength workout. When my athletes express doubts about its effectiveness, I tell them to take up their concerns with the next wimpy shark they encounter.” Elite skiers, such as Dybvig and fellow 2002 Olympian Chip Knight, come from all overthe world to train with Knowles at TPI. After just one workout, they have an entirely different attitude about getting into the pool. “I thought the water was just for rehab,” says Dybvig. “But I’ve learned that it’s a great way to get stronger for high-impact skiing.”
Plus, water is 800 times more dense than air, so no matter which direction you move, it makes your muscles work-and the faster you move, the tougher the going.”It’s like a big resistance machine,” says Mary Sanders, a water-exercise researcher at the University of Nevada at Reno.
According to the United States Water Fitness Association, water offers 12 to 14 percent more drag. “The currents you create push and pull against the body, which challenges balance and core stabilization-two components that are essential for skiing,” says Sanders, who also happens to be a PSIA-certified ski instructor.
Add impressive cardio benefits and buoyancy and you’ll leave Ethel choking on your roostertail. Take the plunge: Here’s our 30-minute water workout, just for skiers.
1.Warm Up: 7-10 Minutes of “Chaos” Running
Stand in waist-deep water and run, moving forward, backward, laterally, and in circles and zigzags so that you’re changing directions often and working against the currents you create. Start slowly, increasing speed as you go.
Put a webbed sports belt around your waist and attach a stretchy tether to the belt (see “The Right Stuff,” page 105). Anchor the tether to a lane-line hook in the shallow end of the pool where the water is waist deep. Face the wall, step back to create tension, and position both feet on the right side of the lane line that’s painted on the bottom of the pool. Squat down so your chest is under water, and, using your arms to propel you up, jump up and over the line sideways so you land on the left side. Jump back in the other direction to complete one repetition. Repeat 8-15 times. Then turn away from the wall and repeat the same move-only this time, jump forward and backward. Complete two sets in each direction. If you have a workout partner, you can make these moves even more challenging by having him or her hold the tether and tug on it while you jump. With each tug, you have to work your core muscles extra hard to keep your body upright.
Wearing webbed gloves, stand in waist-deep water, arms stretched out and hands in front of you, thumbs up. Run backward from one end of the pool halfway to the other. While you run, do flies-basically, a sweeping, back-and-forth motion-with your arms. MMove your hands behind your back as far as you can, squeeze your shoulder blades, touch the backs of your hands together, and then bring your arms forward again. Now relax, turn around, and repeat. It will strengthen your chest, back, and shoulders. Complete 8-15 reps. To increase the challenge, work one arm at a time. Your body will tend to shift to one side; prevent this by recruiting your core muscles to keep you upright.
This movement focuses on both your core and your arms. Wearing webbed gloves, stand in waist-deep water, with your ears, shoulders, and hips aligned. Bend down and “scoop” water into your cupped hands, stand up, rotate toward the right, and throw the water over your right shoulder. Repeat on the left side to complete one repetition. Do two sets of 8-15 repetitions.
5.Warm Down 5-7 minutes of walking
In waist- to chest-deep water (the deeper the water, the greater the resistance), walk back and forth, swinging your arms in slow motion. Try to move in different directions so you turn back against the currents you’ve created. It will work your muscles more.
The Right Stuff: Gear for the Water
A pool is, of course, the most important piece of equipment. But investing in some additional gear will make your water workouts even more effective. Many major sporting goods stores carry water-exercise gear-or check out waterfit.com, speedo.com, or aquajogger.com. A look at the basics:
1. Shoes, $20-$60
Protect your feet during vigorous pool exercise and improve traction.
2. Flotation belt, $20
Stay afloat and keep your body in proper alignment while running in water.
3. Webbed gloves, $10-$20
Add resistance to upper-body movements.
4. Water paddles, $15-$20
Add more resistance than gloves for upper-body movements.
5. Webbed sports belt and tether, about $18For core-stabilization work. Attach tether to the wall (on a ladder or lane-line hook) or to a partner.
“If you have access to a pool after skiing, you’re a fool not to use it,” says trainer Bill Knowles. In fact, an après-ski swim is one of Evan Dybvig’s secret weapons. “I get in the pool and just move around after I ski,” he says. “It helps me relax and gets my blood flowing so I can recover for the next day.” Even if you’re not mashing the moguls the way Dybvig does, your muscles are usually beat after a day on the hill. By spending 15 minutes in the water, moving and stretching, you’ll flush out lactic acid and elongate your muscles with just a shade of gravity’s usual stress. Knowles recommends warming up by swimming laps for about five minutes. Then, put on a flotation belt and move into deep water so you can perform a jogging motion without hitting the bottom. “Go slowly, and aim for smooth, natural movements,” he says. Jog for about five minutes, rest for two, and repeat.
Finish with in-water stretching. Try to mimic some moves you do on land (e.g., pull your knee up toward your chest or bend from side to side), and use the water to do some that you can’t-like sc