Originally published in the 2020-21 Masterfit Buyer’s Guide

Getting fit for ski season doesn’t take a fancy gym membership. What it does take is general cardio training– biking, hiking, running, or even vigorous walking–with some specific strength training that will improve your performance on snow.

Just ask Tyler White, who runs iSport, a training facility at Killington that’s a branch of the Vermont Orthopaedic Clinic. Tyler has helped everyone from Olympic gold medalists and NBA players to middle-aged moms and dads get stronger for the season ahead. His emphasis is doing key movements correctly.

“If you let bad technique go, it’s going to become worse technique,” Tyler likes to say. Bad technique, or simply doing whatever it takes to accomplish an exercise, like a squat, means weaknesses get weakers and strengths get stronger; the imbalance can lead to injury down the road.

To improve strength and balance for skiing, Tyler suggests these six movements (don’t call them exercises!), performed correctly. Doing this series for five weeks pre-season will help you ski better, reduce that early-season burn, and hopefully prevent injuries.

Bent Knee Side Step with a Mini Band

With an elastic miniband around your ankles, step laterally, pushing down through your feet with each step. Toes pointed forward. Two steps right, then two steps left. Repeat three times. Do 1-2 sets. This movement strengthens hip (gluteals) and quadriceps muscles, thereby improving stability.

Bent Knee Side Step with a MIni Band

Single Leg Multitouch

Stand on one leg with the other reaching behind you. Simultaneously flex your ankle, knee, and hip in one linear plane as you lower your body and touch the floor with your fingers. Do not let your knee or hip wobble to either side (out of the linear plane). One rep involves dipping three times and touching the floor in three places: on the left, in front, and on the right side of your foot. Do four reps for each leg. This exercise will strengthen your legs individually, improving balance and leg strength.

Single leg multitouch

Bulgarian Split Squat

Rest one foot on a bench behind you, then squat down with the other leg. Do not let your knee cave to the inside, keep it in line with your foot. Do 6-12 reps per leg, and 2-4 sets.This exercise strengthens quads, hamstrings and glutes and helps you overcome a favored side.

Bulgarian Split Squat

Side Rotations with
Resistance Cord

Hook an elastic resistance cord to an anchor (such as a door knob), then stand sideways to the stretched cord. Take a “ski stance,” then push into your feet to anchor your legs and hips as you pull the cord across your body, twisting your core (but not your hips). Return to the start position with control. Do 5-12 reps. per side, 2-4 sets.

Side Rotations with Resistance Cord

Side Lunge

From a standing position, step quickly to one side and squat on that leg. Then quickly rebound to the other side and squat on that leg. Step on your mid-foot, then transfer weight to your heel as your lunge. Do 8-12 reps each side, 2-4 sets. This movement trains your body to handle the lateral movements of skiing.

Side Lunge

Side Plank

Lie on your side, then prop your body up on your elbow. Your body should be in a straight line (don’t drop your hip) with weight on your elbow and outside of your foot. Hold for 20-90 seconds each side. Do 2-4 sets. This movement strengthens abs, glutes and shoulders.

4 Comments

  1. Hi Peggy,
    Great piece on exercise/fitness for eager skiers. For years, I convinced myself that all my regular distance running was enough. It wasn’t. When I first experienced back & knee problems skiing in my early 50s (15 years ago), I started physical therapy. Over many years I’ve accumulated 10-15 stretching/strength exercises which I do every day, all year long, and I’ve not had any recurring back/knee injuries…I think strengthening my core has been key to skiing hard & injury-free. Thanks for this .

  2. Cansnowplow says:

    SWEET article. The pictures brings Tyler’s words to life. I’ve never printed an article from this newsletter before now but his recommendations and chosen pictures are worthy of printing and pasting to my workout board! I’ve noticed the body position of the drops (dips) on the knee should never exceeds 90 degrees and in the photos, they never reach greater than a 70 degree angle. Completing 5 weeks of this workout will give me renewed confidence as I clic into my bindings. Excellent pre-season article, thanks Peggy.

  3. Thanks Peggy. Always good to see this reminder on developing muscles, flexibility and awareness of body position at the start of each season. Even if one does yoga regularly these ski specific positions really help you tune in on your strengths and opportunities for improvement.

  4. This is great article and a timely reminder to me that I need to get going with my pre-season conditioning. I especially like the Bulgarian Split Squat because I must admit that I do have that “favored side” issue. My local ski resort opens December 10, so there is no time to waste. Thanks!

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