There are few things that can put an end to a perfect day on the slopes quicker than tired, cramping thighs.
Considering you can pay as much as $73 for a lift ticket in Washington this winter, if you head to the hill out of shape you aren’t going to get your money’s worth.
Over the last few years I have had the opportunity to talk to several personal trainers, physical therapists and pro skiers and snowboarders about how to get in shape for ski season.
Here are some exercises they recommend:
Yoga is a good way to improve flexibility, balance and your ability to avoid injuries. Many yoga poses also strength your core and your legs.
THE WALL SIT
It’s an oldie, but people are still doing this exercise for a reason – it works. Simply place your back against a wall and slide down until you feel like you are sitting in an invisible chair. Hold it as long as you can. Place your hands on the wall, maybe even above your head, to resist the urge to lean forward. For an even bigger challenge hold the position on one leg.
Place one leg forward bent at the knee and the other leg straight back. Keeping your upper body upright, jump and quickly alternate your legs. For a tougher workout, raise your hands above your head. Yes, you will look like Molly Shannon’s famous Saturday Night Live character, Catholic school girl Mary Katherine Gallagher.
Start low in a squatting position and explode upward as you jump to your side. When you land, immediately repeat the jump back to where you started. For the more advanced, increase the power and distance of your jumps.
RESISTED CRAB WALK
Don’t ignore your hips and glutes when you train. With an elastic band around your ankles, squat and step sideways. Taking a big step with your lead foot and a smaller step with your back foot, making sure there is always resistance on the band. After 15-20 feet, walk back leading with the opposite hip.
INCHWORM WITH PUSH-UP
Bend at the waist and put your hands on the floor. Walk out with your hands until you are in a push-up position. Do a push-up, then walk with your hands back to the bent position and straighten up. This stretches your hamstrings and strengthens your chest, arms, shoulders and core.
PRONE WALK OUT
Strengthen your core by laying face down over a physio ball. With your hands on the floor, use them to walk away from the ball, which will roll down your legs. Keep your back straight. When your feet are on the ball, walk back until the ball is once again under your hips.
Standing on a box or step, let your left leg hang over the side. Squat with your right leg until your left heel touches the floor. Then straighten your right leg. After 10 to 15 squats, repeat with the opposite leg. Keep your squatting knee over your foot and your pelvis balanced. This exercise should improve your balance as well as strengthening your glutes and quads.
SINGLE-LEG SQUAT WITH TWIST
Holding a medicine ball or light weight with both hands next to your right ear, lift your left foot off the ground. Slowly move the ball across the body toward the floor where your left foot was, then slowly return to the starting position. Keep your right knee over the top of your right foot. Repeat on the opposite side. For an extra challenge try this while standing on a Bosu (a half ball designed for balance training) or a pillow. This will improve your balance while strengthening your legs, hips and core.
PHYSIO BALL BRIDGE WITH LEG CURLS
Lying on the ground with your heels up on a physio ball, lift your hips off the floor, making sure to keep them level. Then curl your legs, rolling the ball toward you. Continue to roll the ball out and back while maintaining the bridge. Start with two to three sets of 10 to 20 reps.