Section 13: Exercises

From: (Chris Webster)

A very good excercise to work on your legs is "wall sits". Pretend you're sitting in a chair while leaning against a wall. Also take something the size of a large detergant box, place it on the ground and jump sideways back and forth across the box.

From: "Stephen S. Hultquist"

Aerobics are the first need, especially if you're going to the Rockies or Sierras. Biking, running, rowing, etc. Second, general leg, shoulder, and arm exercises. Legs are obvious. Shoulders and arms because you hold your hands up all day with your poles in them! You need to start slow. I'd suggest starting with slow running or jogging to build up your aerobics, then check out a local gym and ask for some suggestions there.

From: John Gunn

The single best exercise for skiing is running up stairs. Otherwise basic overall fitness should be enough.

From: edsr!tantalum! (Kelly Shuldberg)

I've found that a good, solid combination of aerobic and anaerobic exercise helps me the best. I like to run, so that handles the aerobic side of things, but there are other activities that work just as well - biking, those stair machines, even walking, if you keep up a brisk pace, will help. You should do this (according to various "experts") at least three times a week for at least 30 minutes at a time. This will be more or less important, depending on where you plan to ski. Most of the western ski areas are quite high (the tops of Taos and Santa Fe are 12,000 feet, for example, and Alta and Snowbird start at 8,000 and go to around 11,000), and if you just jump from the lowlands to high altitude and start making oxygen demands on your body, there might be problems. Altitude sickness at these levels isn't likely to kill you, but it can make what should be a pleasant time a miserable one instead. Then do some anaerobic exercises to strenthen your muscles. I like dead lifts for my legs (they *really* work your quads), but doing them incorrectly or with too much weight can cause more harm than good. You can substitute weight machines like the Nautilus with less risk of injury, but personally, I think the results are less satisfying as well. I also think upper body strength is important, but it's really your legs that get the workout. You might try consulting a local trainer at a gym, or I'm sure there are books that contain good ideas. This program is just what works for me.


You might try my stuff. It's not too heavy duty but I can still ski bumps all day and race and post good results. Do these about three times each week:
  1. Stationary Bike (1/2 hour). If you do this fast enough it will build up your legs and your wind.
  2. Sit ups - 50. These will build up back muscles to absorb all that bending and bumps you hit all day long.
  3. Arm curls with free weights (40 lbs) - 30 reps. Builds up arms enough to be able to pole in lift lines and on flats without killing your arms.
  4. Lift dumbbells from your side to 90 degrees (with your palms down) - 20 or 30 reps each arm. (This gives strength to hold poles up all day, otherwise you might start dragging them which causes all kinds of problems when you ski).
  5. Get those spring contraptions from the sports store that you squeeze to build up your grip. Do about 40 per hand. Helps with the ski poles.

From: (Behzad Khamneian)

Legs: Squats, leg-curls (for the hamstrings), and calf exercises. Also, lunges and leg extensions would help. You don't have to do all of these, but extensions, lunges, and squats are the absolute musts (for building your quadriceps). I recommended leg curls so that you would have a good strength balance in your legs by not ignoring your hamstrings.

What I saw the U.S. Olympic coaches doing to potential skiers was the following: They had them out on a football field. The coaches told the skiers to bend their knees to 90-degrees (like squating) and jump forward, using both legs. One hop right after another. This will help toning, building, and endurance.

If you are not into lifting weights, riding bikes and running are also good exercises.

Remember: You don't necessarily have to lift heavy weights. Just tone up and build endurance. Make sure you stretch well and that your hips are flexible.

Upper body: Lateral and front raises (shoulders/deltoids), lat pulls (for your Latisimus Dorsi), and any tricep-building and toning exercises. You may also work on your Trapezius muscles.

From: Charles Fineman

Someone at a ski shop once told me that an instructor they knew jumped up on milk crates. Stand between two milk crates and alternate jumping on and off each crate. Jump off the left leg onto the right crate, then down. Jump off the right leg onto the left crate and down. She said he used ankle weights once this got too easy. She said he would do this during a TV show (don't recall if was 1/2 hour or an hour.)

From: (Jim Carr)

Whether cycling improves aerobic condition depends on distance and pace.

My views are colored by having experienced the transition from youth, where I was always in decent shape and also skied regularly, to 39+1 and living in Florida so that I ski infrequently. I was in the best shape when I ran and did some light weight work in college, but I can come close to that by preparing for *several* months before a trip. (As an aside, infrequent skiing means that your skills are rusty. I find that doing some class-type exercises is a good way to get the edge back.)

I focus on 3 things: legs, endurance and recovery, and upper body. Do not neglect upper body strength in a workout for skiing, especially if you are going to do bumps. However, any weight work should be done for power and flexibility, not "body building". Always work where you can do 3 sets of 10. I use a DP rower that converts for other uses and, although not adjustable as much as one would like concerning load, it meets my needs at a good price. The rowing is great for legs and general conditioning, and it can be used to do half-squats for the thighs.

I do two things for the legs: an isometric that strengthens the muscles around the knee (you tense the muscle like you would to hyperextend the knee - push it down - but do not let it move) and half-squats on the machine. The former is an exercise I learned from a friend recovering from knee surgery, and I find it helpful and easy to do in lots of situations. The latter helps in lots of ways, but one is worth some elaboration: I find that the number of bumps I can ski is directly proportional to the number of reps I can do at a particular setting of the machine. I also find that my recovery time between sets of bumps is reduced and also proportional to the way I work out. This exercise can be used to simulate the transition from aerobic to anaerobic and back to aerobic that is common in skiing but not in most casual workouts. Sort of like interval training, only with weights, since I will work toward doing at least 3 sets of as many as 40 half-squats at a setting that experience tells me will be effective. (I keep records.)

From: (Marc Sira)

Exercise I do to get ready for skiing (and for it's own sake B-): Rollerblading! on flats, up hills, down hills, sliding over cars B-). Skating (Ice) when the canal freezes, though last year that didn't give me much of a head start on skiing.

From: (Jan Cranny)

Shape magazine had a workout designed for skiers about a year ago that consisted of the following. I would sugest trying to get hold of the article - a picture being worth a thousand words etc... The ones I've marked as "normal" require some kind of equipment which should be at most gyms, you would be better off asking someone at the gym to show you how to so the execise than have me explain it. The number of reps and sets depend on fitness level.

Other activites recommended:

I found a sports shop near me that has ski slope, (basically a very large tread mill at an angle covered with carpet), I've been going about twice a month for the last year, I think it really helped with my skiing last year as not only had I had some practice before I got there but also the correct leg muscles had been used to exercising.

From: (Bob Van Horn)

Best work out and conditioning I could find involves two machines which I puchased and use faithfully. First was the Nordic Track Cross Country Skiing machine. Great for legs, back, butt, and wind. Also great to trim off the pounds. Second machine was one called "Skiier's Edge" which is a side-to-side trainer. Do Nordic Track M-W-F and Skiier's Edge T-Th-S. Usually hit them 0430 to 0500 while watching CNN, get the news, work up a sweat and start the day with a rush.

Works for me.!!

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