It is FINALLY snowing in Tahoe, the one place in the country the polar vortex conveniently skipped (can’t say I’m too mad–going to the beach in January never gets old). It’s been completely barren at all of the resorts, despite the valiant efforts of all the snow-making crews. But now that it looks like winter has finally arrived, it’s time to hit the slopes!
Why do I love skiing so much? Well, first of all, it hits that sweet spot where you’re getting a great workout but having so much fun that you don’t care that your quads are on fire. It’s cardio, strength, and endurance for your entire body. You’re outside, in the snow, and it’s therefore way more exhilarating than being stuck in a gym. It’s a challenge, and no 2 runs are the same, so you’re constantly having to keep your mind alert as well as working your muscles (especially at 25 mph!). Even for those skiers who aren’t thrill-seekers, it’s a great time out.
On the flipside, skiing is definitely hard, and just about everyone feels the burn. By that same token, it can also be dangerous. Rocks, cliffs, trees, other skiers doing stupid stuff, bumps in the snow that you can’t see because everything is blindingly white… all of these are reasons to prepare your body before you ski—and to make skiing a habit instead of a one-off weekend. Liftopia has a great blog post about avoiding leg burn, which you should read.
Here are 5 exercises to prepare yourself for the slopes:
Squats. Liftopia stresses doing them, a lot of them, and for good reason. When you ski, you’re constantly in a squat, so why not do them over and over to prepare? Check out my earlier blog post to get some ideas for different types of squats so you don’t get bored doing only one kind.
Side lunges. Although squats are a good exercise for working a lot of your muscles, I notice that my inner thighs get pretty sore, too, especially if I have to do a lot of traversing and/or skating.
Skater jumps. Great to improve your stabilization, especially to the side (which you’ll inevitably use on the slopes–unless you’re my brother circa 2000 who refused to turn and nearly got his pass taken away). How to do it: Stand, feet shoulder-width apart. Pushing off of your left leg, hop and cross your right leg over, landing on your right. Repeat on the other side.
Standing Russian Twists (with weight). As the Liftopia article says, core is definitely important too–a strong core improves your balance and stability on the slopes. I like Russian twists because they generally mimic the movement of skiing (you don’t ski sitting down, after all). How to do it: take a med ball or weight, hold it straight out in front of you with both arms. Keeping your arms straight, rotate to either side.
Woodchoppers (with weight). I like them for the same reasons as the Russian twists. They are standing, have a good side-to-side component (working your obliques), and are generally a very functional ab (and leg!) exercise. How to do it: hold a med ball or weight in both hands. Squat down, bringing the weight to the outside of your foot. Come up out of the squat and swing the weight diagonally. Repeat on the other side.
Can’t wait to get out there… see you on the hill!