Don't miss another snow day with an injury or weak legs that can't ski more than a half day!
Every time I read a skiing magazine recommending specific, targetted ski workouts, I have to cringe when I see what they are recommending. After all, isn't the goal of an good skier's training routine to minimize injuries while simultaneously building rock solid strength and endurance in your legs and core?
The answer is yes!... All skiers want to tear up the slopes as long as possible, avoid the dreaded "jello legs", and prevent those unfortunate injuries that might cut our skiing season short.
The problem I've seen with traditional workouts that are recommended for skiers is that they not only use ineffectual exercises that don't translate that well into actual skiing movements, but also may even be setting you up for an injury. For example, if you've seen workout regimes that recommend machine leg presses, machine leg extensions, and machine leg curls, run screaming from that workout as fast as you can! Not only will it set you up for unfortunate injuries, but it won't help your goal of strength and endurance that's actually applicable to skiing movements.
The same can be said if you read authors advocating smith machine squats or any smith machine exercises whatsoever... they should all be avoided as smith machine movements follow unnatural movement patterns (not biomechanically correct) that can create excessive stress on the back and possible injury there and/or in the knees.
Now what about wall squats ? Well, although almost every skiing fitness program in existence seems to recommend this exercise for skiers, I don't agree. It is a step in the right direction compared to the machine-based exercises mentioned earlier. However, wall squats are still not a truly effective exercise that translates directly to strength and endurance throughout the entire range of motion that the legs must use while skiing. This exercise can be mildly effective since even an isometric exercise held for endurance in one joint angle will still result in a slightly wider range of motion, but I actually have at least a dozen exercises that are MUCH more effective than wall squats.
One of the other major faults that I've found with typical ski workout fitness routines is that they often forget achieving a proper joint strength balance (proper strength ratios between quadriceps, hamstrings, etc). Although skiing demands a lot of work from your quadriceps and less work from your hamstrings and glutes, it is still crucial for injury prevention to maintain proper strength ratios between all of the muscle groups of the lower body and also make sure the small stabilizer muscles around the joints are properly fortified. This is something else that's lacking in most skier workout programs.
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Mike Geary is a certified Personal Trainer and Certified Nutrition Specialist and the Author of the popular skiing fitness book for people that are serious about their ski season - Avalanche Ski Training, Your Guide to Carving Down the Mountain with the Power of an Avalanche.