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Quick Summer Tips for Ski Fitness
C.W. Schurman, MS CSCS
Just as a properly organized winter and spring training program prepares us for a great summer of strong mountaineering, so too should summer and fall be the perfect time to start preparing for a fun, safe and healthy winter of skiing. Whether you prefer cross-country, traditional downhill, or ski mountaineering, now is the time to start thinking about your preparation. Below are five tips you can implement in the coming summer months to insure that your body will be ready to hit the slopes in November.
- Include roller blades in your fitness arsenal, especially if you enjoy cross-country skiing. By including ski poles on occasional roller blade excursions, you can also condition the shoulders and muscles in the torso that propel you forward. Try crouching down really low and mimicking speed skaters, pushing the legs out to the side as well as behind you to really engage the glutes and other muscles in the hips.
- Strength train on a regular basis, especially if you want to frequent more difficult terrain such as moguls. For more information on exercises to include in your routine, visit www.bodyresults.com/E2WinterSportTraining.asp and www.bodyresults.com/S2Skiprep.asp; the suggestions for late season training at www.bodyresults.com/E2SkiCircuit.asp can also apply in pre-season with modifications. Remember, if you are just starting into a strength program, begin your training with a set or two of 6-10 different lower body and core exercises, twice a week, and train in the 12-15 repetitions bracket with light weight. As you get in better condition, you can reduce the repetitions, increase the weight, and train for additional strength rather than endurance.
- Take it outdoors and enjoy the summer weather! As a ski fan, if you long for cool weather and snow, why not seek it out in the summer? The higher elevation slopes of the North Cascades and Canadian Rockies are great places to enjoy mountaineering year round, with cooler temperatures and in some places, snow year round. If working out in a gym setting is not your idea of a fun time, opt for moving your workouts outside to the nearest park that has a Par Course. These outdoor fitness courses were big in the late 80ís. They were designed so that you can walk or jog between stations (usually 18 of them, to mimic the design of golf courses) and then do the strength training at each station such as situps, balance step ups, pushups, pull-ups, and stretching.
- Build your quad strength. Strength in the quadriceps (large muscles in the front of the thighs) is essential both for walking down hill (as in hiking, scrambling, and mountaineering) AND skiing, so by having strong quads year round, you can jump right into either sport with reduced risk of pain or injury. For appropriate exercises see the pages listed above in #2 for beginning and advanced suggestions, and reverse step ups at www.bodyresults.com/E2kneetest.asp.
- Increase stamina. A solid foundation of fitness would include at least 3 weekly aerobic workouts of 30-45 minutes duration, and might include biking, walking, jogging, jumping rope, working on the elliptical machine, rowing, trail running, hiking, or climbing stairs. A strong endurance base provides you with a solid foundation for more advanced leg strength endurance workouts that will enable you to ski harder, faster, and injury-free. Having a good aerobic base also helps you more effectively recover between challenging ski runs. Without good aerobic capacity, your legs will fatigue after a few ski runs and you will need to take more frequent breaks. By building your stamina over the next month, come September and October you will be ready for ski fitness classes and strength training that will let you jump right into skiing once the slopes open in November.