The 7 Most Important Exercises to Prepare for the Slopes
Ski season is here and that means one of two things for you skiers and boarders out there: one, your whole body is in tiptop shape and you’re totally ready to take on the mountain—or two, your fitness level could use some help before you hit the snow. If you fit better in the second category, don’t feel bad, it’s tough staying strong for a seasonal sport and we have the major moves to help you get strong for the slopes.
When it comes to skiing and snowboarding cardiovascular fitness is key. These two sports take a lot of stamina and when you get tired injury is far more likely. So whether your routine of choice includes running, rowing, cycling or jump roping, make sure you get that cardio in. And then there’s strength…
We called on some snow sport experts, personal trainers and yogis to highlight the most important moves to build strength for the slopes. The following moves are the 7 most important for building total body strength that will help you power down the mountain.
1. Lunges. This move builds lower body strength in the quads, glutes, hamstrings and core—essentially the main muscles we rely on for strength on the slopes. To make this move more effective add dumbbells or try out variations of lunges.
How to do a lunge: a complete guide to the perfect lunge.
2. Burpees. This is the move everyone loves to hate and that’s because it’s super effective. Burpees build total body strength, improve cardiovascular fitness, help build explosive power and improve joint range of motion. Practically everything you need for the slopes, all in one exercise.
How to do a burpee: a complete guide to the perfect burpee.
3. Push-Ups. It’s important to challenge the upper body in preparation for the mountain and the classic push-up is one of the best ways to do it. Push-ups can be tweaked to target different areas but generally, this move can benefit the arms, shoulders, chest, and back.
How to do a Push-up: a complete guide to the perfect push-up.
4. Squats. This move will bring lower body strength full-circle, targeting the glutes, quads and hamstrings. Add on the benefit of core strength and an improved range of motion and squats will set your lower body up for success on the mountain.
How to do a squat: a complete guide to the perfect squat.
5. Utkatasana (chair pose). Our go-to professional yogi and recreational snowboarder Eoin Finn pointed out this pose for shred-ready fitness. “This pose imitates the movement of a snowboard carve. It opens up tight calf muscles, strengthens the legs for the power required for the piston like action needed for a loose and smooth carve,” Finn says. “It also provides a ton of core stability and decompresses the lower back.”
How to do a chair pose: Begin in standing with big toes touching and heels slightly apart. Bend your knees and sink the pelvis low as you reach the arms over head. To increase traction and decompress the spine lengthen the sit bones in opposition to the arms which are slightly inwardly rotated to increase freedom of the shoulders. Breathe long and deep for 30-60 seconds staying relaxed as the heat builds. Enjoy.
6. Single-Leg Romanian Deadlift. Balance and strength are the two main benefits this exercise brings to your training.
How to do a single-leg Romanian deadlift: with a pair of dumbbells, one in each hand, stand tall with your feet about hip-width distance apart. Allow your right knee to bend just a bit as you fall forward at the hip, allowing your arms and torso to move toward the floor. Keep your back and left leg as straight as possible, your torso should be parallel with the ground and your left leg should be straight out behind you. Use your glutes and hamstrings to return to the starting position by lifting your torso and bringing your left leg back to the floor. Repeat this move several times and remember to switch legs.
7. Planks. Arguably one of the best exercises for total body strength, planks activate muscles throughout your core, back, shoulders and glutes. Variations of this exercise, like the side plank, will help prep your body for the slopes too.
How to do a plank: a complete guide to the perfect plank.