The lower body is by far the most important element when it comes to preparing for skiing. Thats why using these exercises to improve the strength and increase the muscle mass of your legs will only be to your benefit. Let’s have a look through the seven most effective lower body exercises for skiers.
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Having strong bones, muscles and tendons will help you in a dramatic way mitigate poetical injuries and the severity of an injury if one does occur. This is very important for those who are not typically physically active during the year and then take a skiing vacation, being highly sedentary and then jumping into an extreme sport with little preparation is not a good idea, that where resistance training comes in.
Through increasing your strength and muscle mass of your lower body you will be able to improve your endurance in difficult positions that arise during skiing. This endurance will enable you to maintain the technique you have already acquired when passing over difficult and uneven terrain.
People often underestimate this aspect of being very physically competent as a result of physical training, when you are strong and resilient, it is easier to find flow in the activity you’re doing. This is often the reason we enjoy skiing so much in the first place, having confidence in your body and its physical capabilities can actually improve your moment to moment experience of activities like skiing.
Strength training can be over complicated, strength training involves lifting weights that are heavy (for you) for minimal repetition, usually between 1-5. The amount of sets and repetitions can be changed in multiple different ways, all of which are very effective. Essentially you need to pick an exercise where you want to get stronger, and lift heavy on that exercise.
Muscle gain is slightly different than strength training in that the weight used is much lighter for higher repetitions, allowing you to generate a great deal of fatigue and create hypertrophic adaptations. This training session is equally as difficult, with repetitions ranging typically from 8-20 at around 50-70% of your 1 repetition max.
DB Quad Dominant Reverse Lunge is one of the most advanced single leg exercises you can use to develop single leg strength. Strengthening the lower body with the db quad dominant reverse lunge is a great way to prepare for skiing, especially as it involves aggressive knee flexion which can often occur when skiing. This exercise is really for those who have experience already with resistance training, beginners will find this variation far too difficult and would be better off using a reverse lunge or a squat in lunge.
Goblet Kickstand Squat also takes the knee through aggressive flexion, but is much more beginner friendly. This exercise will allow you to work the single leg without having to worry about maintaining balance due to the stability of the supporting foot, meaning you can put emphasis on load rather than balance. This exercise can very effectively build strength in the knee joint, yet remains simple enough for a relative beginner to perform with technical proficiency.
Adductor Slides are a rather niche exercise to add to the list, but I think they are worth a mention. We can see from the previous exercises that single leg squat variations are very effective for skiers. But other more tertiary exercises like adductor slides are brilliant at mitigating injury and developing a well rounded body.
Assisted Single Leg KB Straight Leg Deadlift is an exercise that enable a lot of development of both the hamstring, but also the stabilising muscles in hip. This exercise can be technically difficult, single leg (uni-lateral) hinging is very challenging if you havn’t already mastered the bi-lateral hinge. The key to to try and keep the hips and shoulders in line throughout the entire exercise, this requires a lot of control over the hip stabilising muscles.
The Back Squat cannot be left off a list like this, it truly is the best exercise for developing lower body strength. It can take a little while to master the technique of the squat, depending on your starting point, but once your technique is solid and your ready to load some weight onto this exercise, you can see huge gains in strength that other exercises just do not provide.
The barbell hip thrust is the most effective exercise for increasing strength and muscle mass in the glutes. The glutes play an important role in skiing so strengthening them will allow you to see the transfer on the slopes.
The deadlift is very much like the back squat in that it is extremely effective at building posterior chain strength. Skiers rely heavily on their posterior chain muscles (muscles on the backside of the body) for skiing movements, especially when descending slopes or maintaining balance. Deadlifts target and strengthen these muscles, including the glutes, hamstrings, and lower back, which can improve skiers' ability to generate power and maintain stability.
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This resource was written by Sean Klein. Sean Richard Klein has thousands of hours of coaching experience and a BSc in Sports Science with Management from Loughborough University. He owns a gym in Bayonne France, CrossFit Essor, which runs group classes and a Personal training studio.