6 Great Ski Exercises

6 Great Ski Exercises

The ski season is upon us, so it’s the perfect time to add a bit of cross training in the gym to enhance your performance & prevent injuries.  We’re excited to have Marnie Hartman, DPT prescribe some exercises for safe, strong and stable knees. And yes, our gym in Haines, Alaska is an unfinished attic above a fish processing plant…

Heli-Ski Prep for Happy Knees

1. Multiple Angle Squats – Skiing is a multi-planar sport.  Train your knees to stabilize in neutral with these variable angle squats.

Squats for Skiing

From L to R: Feet Neutral, Feet Turned Out (External Rotation), Feet Turned In (Internal Rotation)

Sets & Reps:

  • One Set of 30 Reps at high velocity & minimal resistance
  • One Set of Isometrics of all 3 Ranges x 20 second hold – Add moderate to maximum resistance
  • One Set of 10-15 Reps at slow velocity – Add moderate to maximum resistance

Notes on form: Regardless of the hip angle, keep the centerline of the knee transitioning over the first and second toe. Sit back enough to keep the knee joint behind the toes at the deepest point of the squat. Draw your low belly in while keeping the spine long. Keep your shoulders back over the hips. Remember form is key to getting the most benefit out of any exercise. Use a wall to decrease the angle at the knee if you are tight in your hips, thoracic spine and/or ankles.

2. Chop Rotations – Help save those knees during deceleration and acceleration with a strong, coordinated hip and core complex movement.Chop Rotation for Skiing

Sets & Reps:

  • 1-3 Sets of 15-20 Reps with moderate to minimal resistance

Notes on form: Use a kettlebell, medicine ball or free weight. Begin in a small squat with hands and weight to the outside of the foot. Be light on your feet with your toes weighted more than your heels. Try to keep shoulders back over your hips, draw in your lower belly and lengthen your spine (imagine your spine is a BBQ spit that you will rotate around). Explode out of the legs while rotating and reaching the arms up over the opposite shoulder, keeping arms relatively straight. End point should create a straight line from your hands to your opposite heel. Return to the squat slowly (1/3 to 1/4 the rate of the extension movement). Repeat opposite side.

3. Cross Over Lunges – Develops lateral hip strength. A must for strong, stable knees. Cross Over Lungs for Skiing

Sets & Reps:

  • 1-3 Sets of 15-20 Reps with moderate resistance

Notes on form: Start in a neutral stance square your shoulders over your hips, lower belly pulled in, lengthen your spine, step your left foot forward and across the midline, keep your hips and shoulders square forward (don’t turn shoulders toward foot), bend both knees into a lunge. As the back heel raises keep the weight over the rear big toe, not allowing your foot to roll out over the pinky toe edge. Push off with the front leg and return to neutral. Alternate legs for total number of repetitions.

4. Lateral Box Jumps – Paying attention to knee position during explosive exercises in a controlled gym environment helps to ensure healthy knees in the backcountry.

Lateral Box Jump

Sets & Reps:

  • 1-3 Sets of 10-15 Reps Each Side

Notes on form: Squat next to the box keeping the center line of the patella/kneecap between the first and second toes. Use your gluts and push down through your toes to explode up to the box, landing in the same neutral squat and quickly rebounding back to the floor. Ensure your knees do not fall in toward each other as you squat. Just like the previous exercises, try to keep your shoulders over your hips, lower belly engaged and lengthen your spine.

Trainer’s Tip: This is a good one to add in between sets of other exercises to keep the heart rate pumping while strength training. Chose an appropriate height box or Bosu ball for your ability and then challenge yourself by increasing the height by just 2 inches after a week of practice.

5. Side Plank Dip With Leg Raise - Another great exercise emphasizing lateral hip muscle strength (a must for decreasing stress to the medial compartment of the knee joint) with a little extra core for bonus.

Side Plank With Leg Raise

Sets & Reps:

  • 1-3 Sets of 15-20 Reps Each Side

Notes on form: Lie on your right side and be as straight as possible. Place your right elbow directly under your right shoulder. Draw the right shoulder head back and keep your neck long and neutral, flex both feet while pressing the outer boarder of the right foot into the floor. Squeeze your quads, draw the belly in while lengthening the spine. Push down into the right arm and lift your right side off the floor. Draw the top of the right hip and the lower right ribs toward each other. Once at the top of the hip bridge, pause for a moment, then lift the left leg, keep the toes and front of the knee pointing forward, lower the leg, then lower the hip. Keep the movements distinct to ensure your form and muscular control are ideal. Repeat left side.

6. Swiss Ball Stability Lunge – Train your knees to stay in alignment with an unstable foundation. Ball Spassov Squat for Skiing

  • 1-3 Sets of 15-20 Reps Each Side

Notes on form: Begin with your left foot on top of a Swiss ball. Place the right foot neutral (don’t toe in or toe out), draw the low belly back, lengthen the spine, shoulders over the hips with shoulder blades drawing down the back. Begin to bend the front knee like a lunge or single leg squat. Keep the knee tracking between the first and second toe, without allowing the knee joint to go over the toes. Stay square and stable as you return to a stand.

I hope these exercises help make your days stronger and longer in the mountains this season!

Marnie Hartman is a Doctor of Physical Therapy practicing in Haines, Alaska. She also is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist through NSCA as well as a 200 hour Registered Yoga Teacher. Greg’s been lucky enough to share a life of adventure with her for nearly a decade!

Written on December 13, 2013 by Expedition Broker We are a no-fees booking agency located in Haines, Alaska providing expert, first hand knowledge and personal service while maintaining the same prices as booking directly with guiding companies, often even saving you money. For additional information check out About Us.

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