Prepare Yourself Now for Skiing This Winter
By Steve Share -
Sports Winter fitness season is here and weather willing youll
be skiing local cross-country and alpine trails in a few weeks. Until the snow
comes, youve still got some time to train so that you dont wake up stiff and in
pain the next day.
Serious skiers, of course, never really let
up on their ski conditioning. Theyre the folks you may see on roller
skis, poling and gliding around some cities all summer.
Chad Giese, a top racer and coach in the
Twin Cities area of Minnesota, is among them. Giese races in the United States
Ski Associations continental circuit, and he won the Mora Vasaloppet last
Roller-skiing is a major part of his
training, though he doesnt start it until June. At the beginning of the
summer, he roller-skis one or two times per week, eventually progressing to
four or five times per week by the end of the summer.
If you havent logged in miles and
miles on roller skis, hopefully youve run or biked to keep in shape.
Thats great, but now you need to mix up your workouts: Increase the
intensity, try some interval training, and especially work on core strength and
"Until the snow flies, getting out and
hiking and running with poles is probably the best thing you can do," Giese
says. "Hiking with poles is an excellent workout."
Take an old pair of poles you dont
care about, ones 5-10 centimeters shorter than your cross-country ski poles. As
you walk or run, push with the poles, just as if you were classic skiing.
Add some uphill "bounding" with poles to
your dry-land hiking. Bounding helps develop your quickness and agility,
according to Ahvo Taipale, ski coach and owner of Finn Sisu ski shop.
Start with 15-20 steps uphill, leaping or
bounding and stretching out your stride. Then come back and repeat 10-15 times.
"That will develop quick power for your legs," Taipale says.
Bounding with your poles also helps develop
"Its critical that you develop your
core strength," Taipale says. "Your skiing technique is as good as your weakest
In Finn Sisus dry-land training
programs, partners throw and catch a medicine ball, practicing forward, lateral
and backward passes to develop core strength and balance.
Upper-body and core strength are also
important to alpine skiers. Running and bicycling, popular cross-training
sports for many skiers, dont do enough to get you ready for skiing.
"I want you to take one of those days off
from running, and I want you to go to the gym," says Chris Fellows, director of
the North American Ski Training Center in Truckee, Calif.
He recommends squats, leg curls, pull-downs,
bench presses and dead lifts.
"The core stuff is key. All your movements
center on your midriff."
In addition to strength, he recommends
training for speed, endurance, flexibility and balance. He suggests taking a
yoga class for flexibility and balance.
"You have to add a balancing component to
the mix," he says. "I dont care if you stand on one leg in your office
Your best training for skiing is going to be skiing. [But] you can do a
lot to get yourself ready. You can do a lot to prevent injury."
For women skiers
Special considerations apply to women skiers
considering preseason training.
"Women especially need to work on their arms
and upper body," says Kim Rudd of the Minneapolis Ski Club. Rudd coordinates
the clubs annual Thanksgiving Cross-Country Ski Camp.
Stephanie Sloan, a former world champion
freestyle skier, agrees. "If you dont work out in the gym, you waste a
lot of time trying to ski yourself into shape," she says.
In addition to working the core muscles,
Sloan recommends weight-bearing exercises, which help build calcium
particularly important for women as they grow older.
"Weve got to be a little more
concerned about losing our bone density," Sloan says.
Not everyone, of course, has the time or
inclination to hit the gym weeks before hitting the slopes.
"The hard-core stuff is good, but a lot of
people dont have that commitment or that time," says Jeannie Thoren, of
Duluth, whose Womens Ski Clinics have won her national recognition.
Women in particular may shoulder more family
responsibilities and may not have as much time to exercise or go to a gym.
She points to a number of lifestyle changes
that anyone can make to enhance their overall fitness. Take the stairs instead
of the elevator. Park farther away from work or the grocery store. Carry your
own groceries. Dont eat past 7 p.m. so you can burn some of the calories
off before bed. And most importantly, make your activity fun.
"You have to do something that you like,"
Thoren says. "Otherwise even with the best intentions you
wont keep it up."
Snow at last
Youve hiked with your poles, bounded
up hills, lifted weights, added sprints and long, slow runs to your running.
You even went to yoga class. When that first snow comes, youll be ready
to make your first tracks of the season.
Still, take it easy at first. Your body and
your ski technique need to get reacquainted with the snow.
Alpine skiers: Ski a green or blue run (or
two or three) before heading to the black diamonds.
Cross-country skiers: Stick to gentle,
rolling trails before attempting the steeper, more challenging trails. And if
youre planning a vacation to some serious mountains, get in as much local
skiing time as possible here before you go. You dont want to overdo it
your first few times skiing and risk injury. Depending where you live, you may
have a long winter ahead of you.
Training for the ski season with a group can
be a great way to commit to a training program, get expert coaching and meet
some new friends. Putting in long hours training by yourself can get pretty
Other online resources
link illustrates and explains the benefits of bounding, yoga, hiking, in-line
skating, plyometric exercises, mountain biking, and trail running.
article "Five Principles of Preseason Ski Training," by Chris Fellows, director
of the National Ski Training Center, outlines training tips for flexibility,
balance and coordination, strength, speed, and endurance.