Arguably, one of the best ways to get in shape for ski season is to ski. Tough to do if you live in Phoenix, Ariz., and only ski twice a year. But there are some things you can do at home that specifically target the muscles you use while on the hill. Experts call this approach specificity of training.
Unlike cycling, climbing stairs and other exercises that build leg strength while extending the knee joint (called concentric muscle contraction), skiing requires muscular endurance that helps your legs work against the pull of gravity – akin to activities like walking downhill and descending stairs. Exercise physiologists call this eccentric muscle contraction. Some of the best ways to build eccentric muscle strength are running or hiking downhill, lunges and inverted leg presses using machines or free weights.
Skiing also requires strength in your upper body and core. Even simple exercises like push-ups, pull-ups and light weight training will help stave off fatigue resulting from getting up after a fall, poling across flat terrain and down catwalks.
Even more important than upper and lower body strength is core strength. Your core is made up of a complex set of muscles located in your lower back and abdomen. Its function is to help you maintain an upright posture and support your upper body. It’s particularly important in winter sports like skiing and snowboarding because all good technique begins with maintaining proper stance and posture, regardless of the terrain. Great ways to develop and maintain core strength are sit-ups, abdominal crunches and lower back extensions.
Even though you may only ski a few times a year, maintaining a strong, flexible body will help you reduce the chance of injury and get the most out of your vacation to the West or your only occasional excursion to the nearby slopes.