The primary benefit of staying fit during the offseason, for any avid skier, comes in being able to spend full days on the mountain as early into the season as possible. Here’s a look at some great ways to stay in “ski” shape while waiting for the lifts to start operating again.
Skiing is the culmination of many different elements including weather, equipment, accommodations, and of course physical ability. Powerful legs and a strong abdomen are key to putting in a full day on the slopes and wrapping up the day with essentially the same amount of energy as you had when it started.
If these muscles groups are weak, your day can be cut short, or worse, you may have trouble making your way down the mountain unassisted. Without an exercise regimen in the offseason designed to keep these muscles toned, your upcoming ski season will get off to a rocky and unproductive start.
Riding a bike during the offseason is an excellent way to keep these muscles toned, limber, and strong and can be accomplished on a stationary or motion bike. A great approach is one that will include a combination of endurance and strength training.
To work on endurance, use the lowers gears on your motion bike or less resistance on your stationary bike. The idea is to maintain an easy, casual pace for a long distance designed to keep your muscles moving, your heart beating, and breathing that is steady. If you train five days a week, endurance training should make up 60 percent of that time, or three out of five days. After all, a full day on the slopes requires a lot of stamina.
For strength training, use the higher gears on your bike or more resistance on your stationary bike. If you’re riding a motion bike, find a route that includes plenty of uphill climbs. The idea, of course, is to use a combination of the strength of your leg muscles, the resistance of the higher gears, and the battle against the gravitational pull trying to pull you back down the hill.
Two days each week with a focus on strength training will pay off handsomely when the bottom falls out of the thermometer.
The Wall Sit
Once strapped into your ski boots, the concept of standing totally upright is altered. Ski boots are designed to automatically place us in the proper ski posture, which is legs slightly bent and back straight. Without strong thigh and butt muscles, fatigue will set in quickly.
A great way to work on strengthening these muscles sets and keeping your legs in a similar position is to do wall sits. With your back firmly against a wall, slowly slide down until your legs are bent at the knees at a 45-degree angle. If this angle doesn’t provide some “pull” and “burn” in your quads, you can slide farther down the wall, increasing your angle up to 90 degrees.
Find a position that will challenge you to stay in place for one minute. Do this for three sets, walking in place for one minute after each exercise. You can safely do this every day during the offseason, but every other day is also beneficial. Increase your time and push yourself to maintain this position for up to three minutes. You’ll be richly rewarded right at the beginning of the ski season.
Swimming is a great form of exercise no matter why you’re doing it. For skiers, however, it’s an excellent method for improving endurance and exercising virtually every muscle set in your body. One day each week you should add lap swimming to your workout routine. You can start out slowly, perhaps just 10 laps, but you’ll want to push yourself to increase this to as much as 50 laps as quickly as possible.
Olympic-size pools are 50 meters in length, which means there and back (two laps) is approximately one football field. Once you find your stride, you may discover that you’re just getting warmed up at 10 laps. This is a good thing. Shoot for 25 with a goal of 50, one day each week. This will increase your stamina, strengthen your muscles, and improve your breathing, which are all necessary if you’re going to put in a lot of time on the mountain in the upcoming ski season.
How do you stay fit during the skiing offseason?