You’ve gotta have some serious confidence to zoom down a mountain at warp speed—in a unitard.
And though most of us don’t rock full-body spandex as well as the U.S. Ski Team, even the most amateur skier can master a few moves that will help them maneuver the slopes safely (and get into Lindsey Vonn-esque shape).
Try this workout a few times before your next ski trip to help protect all the most important joints, gain strength in the main muscle groups that help you stay upright, and build up endurance. That way you can your can spend the whole day on the slopes instead of limping back to your cabin.
Get perfect downhill form:
Once you’ve got the form down, it’s all about maintaining the strength to hold it. Do so by working the outside of your hips and glutes. The United States Ski Association calls these muscles the "prime movers" as they keep the lower back protected and give you more speed and power.
Try a squat crab walk: Start in a squat position, holding a weight (or not!) away from your chest. Walk, feet out and then feet together, 10 times to the right, and then return to the left. Repeat five rounds.
Protect your knees:
According to the American Physical Therapy Society, medial collateral ligament (MCL) and anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tears account for more than 30 percent of ski injuries. Ouch. Strong hamstrings help protect knee ligaments from tearing or rupturing, and developing strength in the posterior chain of the body gives you more overall power when jumping and pushing off the feet.
Work hamstrings with a basic deadlift. If you’ve never done a deadlift before, have a trainer work through the mechanics of this classic gym move with you to make sure your form is safe. Start standing, holding a barbell that’s moderately heavy at mid-thigh height. Bending at the hips while keeping your spine straight, tip forward and with controlled motion let the barbell come about 6 inches off the floor. You’re halfway done. From here, maintain a flat back and stand up straight. Contract your core to keep your back flat as you come to standing, and think about using the hamstrings to pull you up to standing. Repeat three rounds of 10 repetitions.
Try running or walking on the treadmill in the weeks before to help your muscles get used to standing and working for long periods of time. If you’re not an experienced runner, try taking brisk walks on the treadmill at an incline of about 5 percent for 30 minutes at a time. Runners, try jogging at a 3 percent incline: Working on an incline forces the posterior chain (the muscles on the back of your body) to work a little harder. Stronger glutes can only help you once you lock into those skis!
Power up your arms:
Experience skiers know it’s not all smooth sailing down the mountain; sometimes you get a little lost or stumble upon uneven snow depths and take a tumble. Being strapped into skis can make recovering from any of these incidents pretty cumbersome. Thank goodness for ski poles—and strong arms.
Tricep kickbacks can help prevent faceplants, or at least get you ready to recover from them quickly. Grab two dumbbells, step feet together, and sink your hips back to a squat position. Tip your body forward so your hips make a 45 degree angle, and extend your arms straight behind you with pinkies up toward the ceiling. Bend at the elbows until your hands meet your hips, and then extend elbows and kick the weights back toward the sky again. Repeat three rounds of eight repetitions.
Hit this whole workout at least three times before you head out for your first round on the ski lift this season. You’ll feel strong and confident when the time comes to make your way down the mountain, whether on the bunny slopes or the black diamond course.
Photo credit: Alicia Cho