These are my top 6 bodyweight exercises you can do in the gym to get you ready for skiing. These moves are going to be valuable whether you are a beginner or an expert on the slopes or in the gym.
Single Leg Balance
Exercise number one is a single-leg balance. Now, this is simple, but it is incredibly effective at waking up the intrinsic muscles of your feet, ankles, knees and hips. These help keep you balanced, whether you're skiing on powder or ice.
To do this properly, you're going to want to start with one foot on its tip toe. The other foot is spread wide with equal weight through the big toe and heel.
You're going to lift that other foot off the ground without raising any hip up or letting it drop down. And from the position you're simply going to balance.
Start with three sets of 10 to 60 seconds. Whatever you can do without having to touch down or start making massive movements with your body to stay balanced.
If this gets too easy for you, you can either add a band to add some resistance, turning on your core more.
You can also close your eyes while you're doing it or have a friend pull on the other end of that band to really make this dynamic balance.
Rear Foot Elevated Split Squat
Exercise number two is a rear foot elevated split squat. Even though skiing is a bipedal sport, meaning we're using both legs at once, your left leg and right leg are doing something wildly different depending on if it's your outside ski or inside ski.
For that reason, single leg movements are incredibly important.
Take three steps away from a bench, box or bottom stair that you're using to elevate your back foot. Keeping your hips level, sink down, turning on our core to keep our pelvis tilted slightly back and torso neutral.
Then come back up to the top.
As you get better at this movement, you can move down lower. You can also add weights to either hand, but you're going to want to work on your strength with this movement.
Start by doing between 4 to 8 reps and fully recover before you start your next set.
Front Lever Cossack Squat
Exercise number three is our front lever cossack squat. The reason I love these is because in the gym we tend to neglect lateral movement and skiing is an incredibly lateral sport.
To do this one, walk your feet wide enough that you just start to feel the first bit of a stretch through your groin. You’re then going to raise a very lightweight up to shoulder height. No higher, no lower.
From there, sink sideways with your knee tracking over your second toe to go about a quarter of the way down and then come back up.
It's important to not sink the hips back, but rather try to take the bottom of your hip and bring it towards your opposite heel.
Start with sets of 4 to 8 and make sure you're fully recovered from one set before you start the next.
To progress this movement, you can sink lower into your cossack squat and you can increase the amount of weight you're holding out in front of you.
Single Leg Lateral Jump
Exercise number four is a single leg lateral jump. Now this move is used to reduce ACL injuries in ski racers.
Another reason I love this ski exercise is that it's a great introduction into plyometrics which builds bone density and builds the strength of your tendons and ligaments.
You're going to want to progress this slower than you would muscle-based movements because it takes longer for connective tissue to adapt to training.
I seriously recommend videoing yourself to avoid excessive knee movement to the inside or weird hip angles while you're jumping.
Prioritize jumping technique before height or quantity. You're going to want to start with ten sets of two jumps, making sure you stick the landing and ensuring that you're fully recovered before you start your next set.
Now the sky is really the limit for progressing this movement! I love to do box jumps, so you are jumping forward to the side, to the back, to the side.
Lateral Skater Jumps
Movement number five is lateral skater jumps. As a ski coach, one of the fastest ways I can get an athlete to improve is by getting them to put 90% of their pressure and weight on their outside ski when they're making a turn.
This exercise helps us get into that position before we even click into our bindings.
I typically coach clients to start this one well within their capacities before trying to push the limit of height or distance for these jumps.
Start this one with ten sets of two, making sure you're fully recovered in between jumps.
And progressing this one can be super fun to start with. You can increase the number of jumps you do. As you get more confident, you can start jumping onto various surfaces like onto a box and off of one to increase the load that's going through those muscles, tendons, ligaments and bones.
Wall Lean Leg Lift
Our sixth bodyweight ski exercise is our wall lean leg left. It is incredibly specific to skiing.
What you want to do is find a pole or a wall to rest your hand or elbow against it. Then keeping both hips pointed the same direction, you're going to lean towards the wall.
Do not let those hips turn and point across the room or dip towards the pole or wall. We want to keep them parallel to whatever you're holding on to.
From there you're going to push through that outside leg nice and strong. Then lift that inner foot towards your outside knee or right underneath your hip. You've got to get the right amount of lean here in order to feel this one in your core.
I strongly suggest quality over quantity. Only do as many as you can while keeping proper form and increase that number as you get stronger.
To make this one harder, you can increase the time you're holding or increase the depth of the movement.
Incorporate these Bodyweight Exercises for Skiing into your Training
Take these movements into the gym and give them a try.
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