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Getting in Winter-Ready Shape: The 10 Best Exercises for Skiing

The 10 Best Exercises for Skiing

The 10 Best Exercises for Skiing

So far, mankind has invented some pretty cool things, but skiing might just be up there as the best one of all time. It’s not every day you get to push the limits of your physicality, spend time in nature, and carve snow as if it were butter and your skis were a pair of hot blades. All that being said, skiing IS a physically demanding activity and it’s important to be physically prepared. Exercises for skiing are crucial for staying safe, staying fit, and owning the mountain when it comes time to carve it to shreds.

If you love skiing as much as I do, you’ll want to get fit and healthy before the start of the season. With winter approaching, now is the time to start those exercises for skiing. While leg exercises for skiing are certainly important, it’s crucial to remember that skiing is a full-body activity, and working out your entire body is the key to having the best bod on the slopes. If you don’t know where to start, that's perfect because we’ve done our research and compiled the exercises to prepare for skiing this winter. Lastly, before we dive into this list, the exercises below were hand-picked for skiers, not snowboarders. While many of these exercises may benefit snowboarders, we made this list for skiers exclusively.

10 Exercises For Skiing

Okay, so 10 might seem like a lot but trust us these exercises are not that hard. You can do most of them from the comfort of your home or on your back porch. With the help of Canaan and Charlotte Bennet (see videos), you can make sure your form looks correct while you try these exercises. Canaan is a seasoned physical trainer living in Boca Raton, Florida.

Before we get into this list, let’s make something very clear: These exercises are designed to get you ready for skiing, which means we picked them because we think they are going to keep you safe and healthy while you ski. So, you should be extra diligent when completing these exercises. That means doing them well and with good form. There is no point in doing these exercises if you are going to end up hurting yourself in the process. Remember, good fitness requires good exercise, and good exercise requires good form. Let’s get it.

1. Bulgarian Split Squats

There are many types of squats out there, but none target the entire leg quite like this one. Leg exercises for skiing are important because, while skiing is definitely a full-body activity, you are going to be using your legs A LOT. When working out your legs for the purpose of skiing, you are not going to need to load up with a bunch of weight to see positive results.

The Bulgarian split squat, for example, does not require you to use any weight at all. You can do these squats both fast or slow. Fast will help your leg muscles for the explosive power you might need on the slopes, and slow will help with stability and control.

How to do Bulgarian Split Squats:

  • Locate a chair, bench, or box (or anything you can use to prop up your back foot)
  • With your back foot propped up, place your front foot slightly in front of you. Your front-leg knee should be located right above the foot.
  • Sink into the squat until your thigh is horizontal.
  • Push up with force.
  • Do this repeatedly (3 sets of 10 squats)

2. Box Jumps

Box jumps are an excellent way to prepare for skiing because they work within your plyometric training category. That basically means that box jumps can help work on your explosive power, muscular endurance, and cardiovascular fitness. If you don’t have a box, find a step, a ledge, or any other kind of vertical platform that will support your weight.

This is another exercise that does not require any additional weight. Simply jumping up and stepping down will improve your balance, agility, mobility, coordination, and speed.

How to do Box Jumps:

  • With a box in front of you, spread your legs shoulder-width apart.
  • Bend your knees and, with enough force, jump onto the box.
  • Use your entire body! If swinging your arms and flexing your back helps, do it.
  • Do this repeatedly (3 sets of 10 jumps)

3. Leg Extensions (lightweight only!)

This might be the only exercise that you cannot do at home. Leg extensions have long been debated whether they are good or bad for your knees. It goes without saying, though, that strong quadriceps (top of your thighs) are responsible for keeping your knees healthy and injury-free. Strong quads act like cushions for your knees when absorbing shock, and skiing can be quite a shocking experience for your knees.

Leg extensions are a great way to strengthen your quads, but you must be careful when doing them because loading up too much weight on the machine may result in a knee injury (the very thing you don’t want!) Remember, you’re not trying to look like Arnold Schwarzenegger, you simply want to be fit for skiing. If you feel any sort of discomfort from this exercise, stop immediately.

How to do Leg Extensions:

  • Sit in any leg extension machine and make sure you have an easy weight.
    Place your feet beneath the padded ankle bar and push your legs toward the ceiling.
    Do this repeatedly (3 sets of 10)

4. Bodyweight Squats

Hopefully, you have done this one before. This is the easiest and most basic exercise on this list, but its benefits are undeniably amazing. When it comes to exercises for downhill skiing, body weight squats are essential.

This type of squat is going to help in more ways than one. It is going to strengthen your calves, quads, and hamstrings. It is also going to strengthen your lower back and help with lower-body mobility. This is one exercise that you should definitely make sure you do with excellent form. Having good form off the slopes will make sure you have good form when you are on them.

How to do Bodyweight Squats:

  • Spread your legs shoulder-width apart and extend your arms for added stability.
  • Sink into the squat as low as you can go.
  • Stand up and prepare for the next one.
  • Do this repeatedly (3 sets of 20)

5. Wall Sits

Alright, this is the last leg-related exercise, I promise. You can do wall sits anywhere there is a… you guessed it, a wall. Wall sits are kind of like holding a bodyweight squat at its most difficult position.

This is an isometric exercise that helps build healthy muscle tension and works on joint stability. Of course, wall sits will build muscle in your calves, quads, and hammies, but it is going to allow you to feel more stable as you cruise down the mountain on your skis. On top of that, this exercise will work on your core, which is imperative to be ready for skiing.

How to so Wall Sits:

  • With legs shoulder-width apart, sink into a squat-like position against flat all.
  • Hold this position as still as possible (pretend to be a statue)
    Do this repeatedly (3 sets of 1 minute each; or until you can’t anymore)

6. Deadlifts

Finally, we are done with the leg-oriented exercises. While deadlifts are, in fact, good for your quads and glutes, they are especially beneficial for your lower back muscles and core. Your spine is going to take a beating when you are taking sharp turns and hitting moguls. That’s why it is important to have a cushioned spine in order to give your body the support it needs.

This exercise will make sure your midsection, your lower back, and your core are tight and stable. That said, this is one of those movements that you want to make sure you are doing 100% right. With the wrong form, deadlifts can end up hurting your lower back. For skiing purposes, you won’t need to use a lot of weight. A couple of light dumbbells or a squat bar are perfect for this exercise (see video). The most important thing is to keep a straight back.

How to do Deadlifts: 

  • Make sure your feet are shoulder-width apart and your knees are slightly bent.
  • Slowly, with a straight back, and with control, bend your upper body over and bring it back up again.
  • Do this repeatedly (3 sets of 10-15)

7. Plank and Side Plank

Speaking of stability in your core, planks are designed to stabilize your core. Planks are pretty simple: Keep your back straight and your butt down, and you’ll be on your way to making sure your abs are toned and your core muscles have better endurance.

This static exercise is a great way to give your spine more protection when you inevitably crash while skiing. Planks benefit muscles such as your diaphragm, pelvic floor, internal obliques, and abs. With a strong core and a stable back, you won’t have any problem skiing the entire day. You can also ramp up the difficulty of your plank by turning to one side and holding it there.

How to do Plank and Side Plank:

  • Simply find a flat surface to do your plank.
  • On your elbows or palms, make your body as straight as possible and keep your stomach from touching the ground.
  • Hold this position for extended periods.
  • Repeat this exercise (3 sets of 1 minute each)

8. Russian Twists

First, we had Bulgarian split squats and now we have Russian twists. Russian twists are a great way to improve your core strength from literally anywhere. What makes this exercise so good is that you won’t need any exercise equipment whatsoever.

While Russian twists are good for building core strength, we chose them because they will improve your balance, coordination, and flexibility (all things you need for skiing!). If you have trouble keeping your feet in the air while you do this movement, try keeping your feet on the ground while you twist. As your core gets stronger, you will be able to keep your feet airborne longer.

How to so Russian Twists:

  • Find a flat surface to sit with your back and legs lifted off the ground at the same time.
  • Twist your upper body left and right, touching the ground beside you as you do.
  • Keeping your legs in the same place, make sure your twists are full and complete (no cheating!).
  • Do this repeatedly (3 sets of 18)

9. Burpees

Are you ready for a full-body exercise? That is exactly what burpees are going to offer you as you do exercises for snow skiing. Again, this is an exercise that you will not need any equipment. Burpees work out your calves, quads, hamstrings, glutes, lower back, core, chest, and arms. It’s a good one, to say the least.

Skiing is not easy, especially if you plan on spending time on those tricky double black diamonds. Ensuring your entire body is fit and ready for whatever comes your way, is the only way to make sure you stay safe and healthy this winter. Burpees, which are a great way to make sure you have great muscular endurance, are not the easiest movement on this list, but they might just be the most beneficial. Burpees are difficult, so do them in whatever capacity you are able to.

How to do Burpees: 

  • As fast as possible, go to the floor to do a push-up.
  • In one motion, rise to your feet in a squat position and explode into a jump.
  • land with good posture and do it again.
  • Do this repeatedly (3 sets of 10, or 6 sets of 5)

10. Jump Rope – Cardio

Lastly, we have a cardio exercise. You can do any form of cardio, such as jogging, biking, rowing, or swimming, but we chose the jump rope because of its skiing benefits. Jumping rope is proven to have less impact on your knees than jogging, and it burns more calories. The explosiveness used in your lower legs while jumping rope is a great way to prepare your calves for skiing.

That said, if you do not have a jump rope, jogging, or any other form of cardio, will do the trick. Biking might be the best alternative to jumping rope. Its low-impact movement is a great way to get your body moving without taking any hits. Just make sure to wear a helmet. Cardio will make sure that your cardiovascular system is ready for skiing as well as the higher altitudes of the mountain.

Will You Be Ski-Ready?

The time is now to get ready for the ski season! Outdoor Master has what you need to prepare in other ways, too. 

Need sunglasses for jogging? Need some new ski goggles? Need snow equipment in general? Let Outdoor Master help you prepare and make this ski season the best one yet!