By Rachel Walker
There are some people who devote the months of October and November to doing hundreds of lunges, box jumps, sprints, and burpees—all in the name of “ski fitness.” They might do it in specialized classes at a gym or in their back yard. They’re usually proud of this commitment, mentioning it as frequently as they ask you what ski pass you bought.
Good for them.
For the rest of us, well, it’s not too late to get your ski (or snowboard) legs on. And you don’t need a swanky gym membership to do it. Here’s how.
Perhaps the single best leg strengthener in existence, lunges engage the major leg muscles (glutes, quads, hamstring) and strengthen the tendons and connective tissue. Do them walking or standing still, quick (think: lots of telemark turns) or slow and deliberate. The most important thing to remember is to keep your legs in alignment (don’t let that knee fall in!) and concentrate on engaging your hamstring on the back/dropped leg as you bring it back up. Do at least 50 lunges per leg (tip: find a running track and lunge your way around it at least one lap per leg).
- Plyometric jumps
With your feet together, find a flat, solid, stable surface anywhere between one- to two feet off the ground. This could be a bench on a picnic table, a brick wall, or a step stool. Jump onto the surface and land as lightly as possible. Step down. Do three sets of 25.
Personally I think these should be called “pukeys,” as doing them makes me want to throw up. In a good way. From a standing position drop to the floor, do a push-up and then jump to your feet, bringing your knees as high as possible. Do 10-15 in quick succession. To increase the burn, use a medicine ball or a sand bag at the beginning: lift it above your head and slam it to the ground, then do your burpee.
Aerobic fitness will let you ski from the top of the chairlift to the base without stopping, and research has shown that intermittent sprints can have as much bang for your buck (or more) as long, arduous runs. Warm up for 10 minutes and then run as fast as you can for 30- to 60 seconds, and then jog for a two-minute recovery. You can do this on a track, a road, a trail or in a gym. You may also incorporate hill sprints, which are exactly what they sound like, into your run.
You will really notice the impact of a strong core in moguls or in deep powder when your strength lets you maneuver your lower body with less effort. Here are three ab workouts to do daily.
Plank: Lie on your stomach and lift your body so you’re resting on your elbows and toes. Concentrate on keeping your back and hips aligned and flexing your stomach muscles. Imagine pulling your elbows toward your toes (without actually moving them). Hold for 60 seconds. Do three times.
Side touches: Sitting down with your legs outstretched, lift your feet from the floor and engage your abs. Twist slightly side-to-side, touching the ground with both sets of fingertips each time. Do 25 per side for three sets.
Leg ups: Lie on your back with your hands stretched above your head and your toes pointed. Lift one leg while raising your upper body and reach for the lifted leg’s ankle. Lie back down and repeat on the other leg. Do 25 per side for three sets.
Inevitably there are a host of other exercises you can do, and we encourage you to. But these basic exercises, if done consistently, are guaranteed to increase your strength and endurance on the slope. Best of all, you can do them anywhere.