At first glance, city life wouldn’t seem to offer many opportunities to prepare for your next skiing expedition. Think again. With these 11 exercises, even city dwellers can get into prime shape for the slopes.
Skiing hits your quadriceps harder than any other muscle group. Spare yourself days of soreness by building up your quads before you take on the mountain. Lunges are the perfect exercise for this. While standing up straight, step forward until your front leg makes a 90-degree angle. Keep your back straight throughout. The trailing leg shouldn’t touch the ground, but your knee should come close. Alternate between legs. You can do this in reverse as well, meaning you’ll be taking a step back, rather than forward, to initiate the move.
2. Side Lunges
When carving down the slopes, your inner and outer thighs are called into action over and over again. Prepare with side lunges. Like the standard version of this exercise, start by standing up straight. Step out to the side while keeping your back upright. Bend the outer leg, but don’t overwork the knee. Keep your shin perpendicular to the ground as you engage your hips to ensure your joints aren’t overloaded. Return to standing position before performing a side lunge with the other leg.
Keep your shins upright and, like with side lunges, bend at the hips while performing squats. This way you’ll only be working your quadriceps and glutes—and not your knees. Skiing automatically puts you in a half-squat position, so it’s best to get used to this movement and position so you won’t be taken by surprise when you get off the lift. Plus, squats engage your core—something that gets put to the test with every turn down the mountain.
4. Calf Raises
Your calves are what prevent you from tilting forward and tumbling down the mountain, so it’s wise to give them some attention. While standing upright, raise your bodyweight on your toes and then slowly come down. You can perform this with the balls of your feet on a step or a curb to free up a broader range of motion.
5. Box Jumps
Find a sturdy box that’s a comfortable enough height to, well, jump on. Explode off the floor with both legs and land on the box in a squatted position. This is important: make sure you keep the landing as soft and as quiet as possible. This will protect your knees while also working the muscle groups that you want to be engaging. The result? Power for the slopes and a good deal of endurance.
Not only will riding a bike help your posture and cardiovascular health for skiing, it will also build key muscle groups that will be heavily engaged on the slopes. If it’s an option in your city, mountain biking on park trails is a great way to prepare for the high altitudes you’ll experience on your skis.
7. Incline Jog
This endurance-builder is also a way to engage your quads and hamstrings—two areas that you’ll get to know well on a ski trip. Set the treadmill at a (manageable) incline and start slow—this exercise does not call for sprinting.
8. Stair-Climbing With a Heavy Backpack
Like the incline jog, this lung-buster will both build muscle and prepare you for all-day tests of endurance on the ski slopes. If you work in an office building, skip the elevator and pack a little more than you’d usually bring to work. It’s a slog, but you’ll be well prepared for cross-country journeys when you’re off the beaten track.
9. Core Exercises
Sit-ups, crunches, bicycle sit-ups, wood chops, medicine ball throws—if it works your core, it’ll help you ski. Having a six-pack is nice, but it’s not the goal for skiers. Your core is responsible for giving your power and control in your turns. It’s what keeps you going where you’re going and can help prevent spills that come after lazy turns.
10. Push Ups
Skiing isn’t all legs. You’re going to be pushing off with your poles, so don’t ignore your arms. Push-ups, with your elbows tucked to your sides, will give you a stronger chest and stronger triceps. Translation: You won’t have to be pulled to the next lift by your kids.
Stretching immediately before and after skiing is incredibly important when it comes to preventing injury. But don’t wait till you get to the chalet to stretch. Increased overall flexibility will help prevent the aforementioned injuries, but it will also make skiing more comfortable and, as a result, more fun.
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