Exercise Like an Olympian: Ski Jump Training

Olympic hopefuls share an on-the-go version of their strength training routine

Olympic-level athletes are arguably some of the fittest people on the planet. When competition time comes, it’s their job (literally) to make sure their bodies are in tip-top physical shape. But no matter how talented you are, achieving Olympic-level fitness is not a feat many can accomplish on their own, which is why Olympians workout intensely with the world’s most renowned trainers and coaches.

Not only are Olympic athletes’ workouts extremely intense, but they’re extremely intelligent, too. Each type of athlete needs a very specific type of strength and in turn, they each perform very specific types of workouts.

“Skiers need mostly lower body strength, but also shoulder strength to help break falls,” U.S. Women’s Ski Jumping Team head coach Alan Alborn told me when I joined him and three of the team’s members for a workout session at Uplift Studios in New York City.

The three Olympic hopefuls— Nina Lussi, Alissa Johnson, and Abbey Hughes—shared their inspiring stories, as well as some of the challenges that come along with the elite athlete lifestyle, like maintaining a training program while traveling. “If you don't have a gym to go to that's not an excuse to not do anything,” Alissa told me, referring to both her own travel-packed itinerary and the experience of the everyday exerciser.

Together, Lussi, Johnson, Hughes, and Alborn (a former Olympic ski jumper himself) led me through the following workout; an on-the-go version of their regular strength training routine. No gym? No problem. All you need is a little bit of space, a resistance band, and a yoga mat (optional) to follow the instructions below and exercise like an Olympian, ski jump style. 

The Warm Up: Repeat 2X

1 minute Run in place

1 minute Knee touches

1 minute Butt kicks

1 minute Squats

The Workout

Lateral Lunge: 1x8, each leg

Start standing with your feet hip-width distance apart. Bend your right knee to lift your right leg and take a wide step out to the right as you squat down and extend your left leg. Return to the starting position and repeat. 

Stride and Twist: 1x8, each side

Inside hand remains on the ground, outside hand twists open and reaches up.

Push-up Walk Out: 1x10

Focus on taking small steps forward to walk your feet towards your hands. When you reach the top, walk your hands forward to return to the starting position and then do a push-up.

Hip Abduction: 2x30, each leg

Focus on keeping your leg as straight as possible and your core engaged. Alternate legs for each set.

Resistance Band External Shoulder Rotations: 1x16, each position

With your hands about fist-width apart hold the resistance band (for the first set down low, then with your arms extended straight out in front, and last with your arms lifted straight above your head) and with small movements pull the resistance band in and out. 

Jump Rope: 3x30 seconds

Squat Jump: 3x3

Assume squat position; be sure to keep your knees above your ankles and to sit back into your heels. Focus on keeping your core engaged as you powerfully push the floor away and jump as high as you can, being sure to land lightly on your feet.

Dumbbell Jumps: 4x4

Use 5-10 lb. dumbbells (depending on your ability). Focus on powerfully pushing the floor away while keeping your shoulders back and down and your core engaged.

Single-Leg Squat Reach: 3x8, each leg

Balance on one leg, with a very slow and controlled motion, squat down with your grounded leg and  touch the floor in front of your foot. Slowly return to the starting position and repeat.

Low Plank (Prone Stabilization): 3x1 minute

Focus on keeping your core tight by drawing your belly button into your spine and tucking your hips under. Make sure to maintain a flat black, keeping your entire body in a straight line.

Side Plank Hip Dips: 3x45 seconds, each side

Lying on one side with your elbow directly underneath your shoulder, place your top foot on top of the bottom and then lift your hips up off the floor. Dip by tapping your hips to the floor lightly. Return to the starting position and repeat.

12. Kneeling Opposite Arm, Opposite Leg Raise 3x15, each side

Assume an all fours position. Keeping your core engaged, raise your right arm forward while simultaneously extending your left leg backwards. Return to the starting position and repeat the same movement on the opposite sides.