6 Exercises for an Injury-Free Ski Trip

Published online on Sierra magazine’s Explore blog, November 5, 2013

6 Exercises for an Injury-Free Ski Trip

As winter approaches, ski bums are checking off tasks on their ski season prep list: choose your resort, make green travel plans, choose sustainable equipment. But no matter how early you bought your lift ticket or gear, a pulled muscle or injured knee can still ruin your trip (or season). In Washington, The Inner Circle Gym’s Adam Vognild teaches ski conditioning classes to help participants get their muscles ready for the backcountry skiing, downhill skiing, and snowshoeing season ahead. “People don’t get hurt on the first day of their ski trip,” says Vognild. “They typically get hurt on the third or fourth day, when they don’t have the endurance to keep going.”

If you’re serious about getting in shape, working with an instructor or trainer is key, Vognild said. It may be hard to believe, but there is a wrong way to do squats, and “you only get so many bad repetitions before you hurt yourself.” Check out gyms in your area to see if they offer dry land training courses, or discuss your needs with a trainer who can give you tips for safe and productive exercise.  

Vognild shared with us six important components of dry land ski training, and recommended a few basic exercises to get started: 

1. Strength: To prepare your leg muscles for the slopes, Vognild recommends a simple classic: the squat, or the single-leg squat. “A strength set of any exercise routine [should be] loaded to the point where you can’t complete more than six repetitions at a time while maintaining proper form. This repetition structure will increase muscle strength and is usually done with a two-to-five minute rests between three-to-five sets of repetitions.” 

2. Strength-Endurance: Strength-endurance exercises should focus on beginning to utilize the cardiovascular system, rather than building muscle. Exercises include lunges, sit-ups, and push-ups in sets of 12 or more reps over roughly 45-150 seconds. 

3. Endurance: “Making sure you have a reasonable amount of cardiovascular training is important,” says Vognild. Running, biking, swimming at a low enough intensity to be maintained for hours can help to build endurance and get you ready for the season. For those starting from square one, Vognild recommends starting with a brisk walk several days a week, and slowly adding volume.   

4. Power: In Vognild’s class, participants do squat jumps and split jumps to increase power. You can also try short sprints at maximum effort, hill sprints, and stair climb sprints, all “explosive movements utilizing fast-twitch muscle fibers often throughout the entire body.”5. Balance: “Balance is key,” says Vognild. Improve balance by repeating movement that will require stabilization. Jumping, landing, standing, and squatting on one leg can all help to improve balance.

6. Mobility and Flexibility: “Become more mobile and flexible so that you can maximize your range of motion.” To increase flexibility, stretch quads, hamstrings, wrists, and try the downward dog yoga position. 

“You should make a point to include every component of conditioning into your workouts throughout the week,” says Vognild. “The goal for all of these workouts is to be consistent and, over time, to add volume and increase resistance.” 

For more exercises and tips, see Vognild’s more detailed description of The Inner Circle Gym’s dry land training program.

Read online at SierraClub.org


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