5 Bodyweight Exercises for Skiing

Our resident Fit2Ski guru, personal trainer Guillaume Tual, gives you the lowdown on the best bodyweight exercises you can do at home or the gym to prepare for the season ahead.

The Australian and New Zealand ski season has just started and you may be thinking about your upcoming trip and how much training you have done to get ready. Let’s be honest for a second, every year it’s the same song: you don’t find time to implement a proper snow routine or you rush to the gym to squat and run on the treadmill.

This year I am making this easy for you as I want you to have a blast on the slopes with your family and friends, try new gear, feel fresh the next day, ski from first to last chair, come back in one piece so you can tell everyone how much fun you had. Does this sound like a good idea?

I have created a series of some of the most efficient exercises for the snow using different tools you can find at the gym, and if you don’t belong to any, well, this is your lucky day as here are 5 Bodyweight drills you can do anywhere and anytime! No excuse, get those ski legs ready!

Warm Up:

Perform 10 repetitions of the following exercises:

  1. Bodyweight squats (knee depth)
  2. Forward-Reverse Lunge (maintain upright torso)
  3. Clock Hops (half a meter hops front-centre-right-center-back-center-left-center)
  4. Curtsy Lunge with trunk rotation (towards back leg)
  5. Downward Dog to Front Step (replace right hand with right foot and repeat)

Plyometric Box Jumps (Sagittal and Lateral):

How: Find a stable surface (box, chair, bench) that is about knee height. Stand in front and jump up then step down. Make sure your feet are hips width apart, bend your knees and drive your hips back before jumping up. Try to land on the box as light as posible in a squat position before standing up. Repeat the same drill but start aside the box. Lateral jumps are more difficult but target the hips and core in a different way.

Tips: Watch the stance of your feet. Don’t land with feet close. Imagine you have skis under your feet. Stay supple and absorb the landings as much as possible with your knees and hips.

Progress: There are different ways to progress and increase the explosive effect of this drill. Try to jump up then down and straight back up. The least time you spend in contact with the ground the more elasticity is required by your muscles. You can also start on the box and jump down and explode up as high as you can as soon as you land (forward bound works too).

Note: Plyometric drills are very tiring for the nervous system and should be done at the beginning of the workout to get maximum efficiency. If you have a history of calf/tendon/plantarfasciatis tear, seek advice from a health professional before doing this drill.

Loaded Beast to Deep Ape:

How: Start in a modified child pose position with your butt over your heels, arms stretch forward, head between shoulders and knees hovering over the floor (feel the abs keeping them up). Explode forward and as if you were pulling the ground with your hands and land with your feet right beside your hands into a deep squat position, feet flat on the floor. Push back from your hands and jump back into the start position.

Tips: Keep your knees tucked to your chest in the loaded position, this will engage your abs way more. When landing in a Deep Ape, bring your shoulders up, maintain a straight back and sink the hips deep.

Progress: Increase speed of movement. You can also place you hands on a small step (10-15cm high) and try to land on it. You’ll have to explode way more to clear the box!

Pistol and Shrimp Squat:

How: The Pistol Squat is practically a single leg squat. Keep one leg straight in front of you while squatting on the other one. It is an advanced drill but extremely efficient for skiing as it tests the foot to hip control. Once your bum has touched your heel (yep, you must go all the way down or it doesn’t count!), drive your heel into the floor to come back up.

The Shrimp Squat requires a similar joint control. Bend one knee so your heel comes close to your bum. Keeping your foot there, bring both arms forward (this will help balance) and squat on the other leg to try to bring your bent knee to the floor before coming back up.

Tips: Use a TRX/band to hold on to and support your body if you can’t go all the way down. You will be able to pull yourself up more easily. Go as low as you can go and try to deeper each time you train as you need to build a lot of strength in the glute-quad complex.

Progress: Try barefoot! You’ll be surprised of how much you use your feet instead of your glutes and quads. You can also perform the squats on the flat surface of a Bosu ball.

Sprinter Step Up:

How: Put one foot on a box/chair/step/bench. Place the other further back on the floor so your front knee is over your toes. You should have a close angle at your hips and front knee. Drive your front heel into the box to step up and bring your back knee up. Squeeze your glutes and thrust your hips forward as you stand up. Step back down to the starting position and repeat. This drill is great to strengthen glutes and the Vastus Medialis (inner quad muscle responsible for knee tracking).

Tips: Use your arms as if you were running or on the starting blocks (opposite arm to leg). Make sure you keep your knee tracking with your middle toe (instead of falling inward). This exercise puts more strain onto the patellar tendon and knee cap, so make sure you clinch your butt even more.

Progress: Add a little hop from the front foot as you step up. You can also add a couple of light dumbbells.

Sumo Drops:

How: Stand up straight then drop into a sumo squat, feet wide and pointing out, hips at knee level. Keep your shoulders and head up maintaining a straight back. Jump back up to starting position. Try to land as smoothly as possible, absorbing the drop with your legs.

Tips: Cross your arms in front of you and balance a stick on it. If you tend to bend forward and lose that straight back, you’ll drop the stick.

Progress: You can add a barbell in front of the chest or hold a kettlebell. Try also to jump forward or sideways before dropping into the sumo position. A partner can point at where to go too.

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