Get fit for ski season with these at-home exercises
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — With opening day at Steamboat Resort fewer than two weeks away, locals are looking for the perfect workout to help them gear up for the slopes.
Getting in shape for ski season is essential to not only preventing injury but also improving the overall ski season experience.
“I think the most common injuries occur because people are de-conditioned,” Old Town Hot Springs personal trainer Rebecca Williams said. “Skiing is so different from workout routines people normally do. When they get on the slopes, they aren’t strong where they need to be. But also having the proper endurance is important, so when they get out there, they can ski for the time they plan to ski.”
For the average skier or snowboarder, Williams suggests a variety of exercises that can be done at home to help strengthen the key lower-body muscles.
“Your core stabilizing muscles are vital to maintaining balance and controlling all of your movements while you’re skiing,” Williams said. “When you’re skiing with just your legs, you’ll fatigue much faster. When you can ski and snowboard with your core, fire up your legs and stabilize, you’ll have more control through your turns, and you’ll have that ability to be more aware of your body becoming more worn out.”
The following exercises require a resistance band, BOSU ball and a 6- to 8-inch exercise ball.
The butt walk is self-explanatory. It’s an exercise to help strengthen the glutes. Take a small resistance band and loop it around your ankles. Place your hands on your hips, have a small bend in your knees with your toes pointed straight forward and your core engaged. Walk laterally while maintaining resistance on the band at all times. Williams advises to be mindful of your hips, working to keep them as quiet as you can as you walk sideways.
Clam shells also involve a resistance band and engage the glute muscles. Loop the resistance band around your quads, just above your knees. Start by laying on your right side. Bring your knees in toward your chest until your knees are in line with your hips, making a 90-degree angle with your body. Keep your feet together and slowly lift your top knee up while keeping your hips stacked and quiet. Slowly release your knee back down until it is almost touching your bottom leg.
Lunge with balance
Lunges with balance are a great all-around exercise to help with both strength and stability. Williams said that people too often ignore the importance of the little muscles, like hamstrings, that help stabilization in the legs. The lunge with balance puts an emphasis on balance and core strengthening while also strengthening the glutes, quads and hamstrings. Start in a traditional lunge with your right foot forward, knee directly over your ankle and left leg behind you. Make sure that your hips are parallel before making any movement. Sink down into your lunge and press up through your right leg as you drive your left leg up to balance. Bring your left knee up until it is in line with your left hip and pause at balance. Step your left leg back again into your lunge and repeat this process on either side.
Lateral squat jumps on BOSU ball
Lateral squat jumps use a BOSU ball, which is like a half-yoga ball with a platform on the bottom. Using the ball side up, start with your right foot on the ground and your left foot on the BOSU ball. Sink down into a squat then press up and jump to the other side of the BOSU ball, landing with your left foot on the BOSU and the right foot on the ground. Williams recommends starting with a set of 10 that are slow and low, focusing on form and lateral movement.
Planks engage the entire body but put a strong emphasis on the core. Using your forearms to hold your body in a plank position, make sure to not sink the back too low. Keep your spine neutral, and without moving your hips, slowly squeeze a small exercise ball in using your inner thighs and release. Continue to squeeze and release the ball while holding the plank position. After a few sets, slowly drop both knees down to the ground while keeping tension on the ball and keeping your hips stable. Slowly draw knees back up, pushing heels behind you so that you return to your original plank position and repeat.
There are a variety of simple movements that can go a long way. Start by sitting tall with your feet planted on the ground in front of you about hip width apart. Take a 6- to 8-inch ball and place it beneath your lower back. Slowly begin to hinge back while pressing your belly button down to your spine, keeping your chest lifted. Don’t extend over the ball. Place your arms out in front of you, lined up with your shoulders and hold there. Take a quick reset and make your way back to the same position. Focus on your chest, lifting it up 1 inch and take it back down 1 inch. Complete a small set of these while keeping your core engaged and chest lifted at all times.
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