5 Pre-Ski Season Exercises for You and Your Kids To do at Home
It's almost the snowy season! And after a year long hiatus, it will be great to be back on the squeaky stuff. The first day on piste is always an exhilarating one as you find your ski legs and rediscover the snowy playground you hold so dear. You get reacquainted with muscles you had long forgotten over the summer. Three runs in and you realise maybe you should’ve worked on your ski fitness in the offseason. Well, you still can!
Rhys Artridge from Snow Performance in Melbourne has some great advice for us about simple but effective pre-season ski exercises that you can do at home, with (or without) your kids!
30 mins, twice a week
First of all, you all probably want to know how much time you need to commit to these home ski exercises. Rhys recommends 30 mins a session, twice a week for active parents who do daily laps around the house, juggling work and children. If you find yourself sitting at a desk for most of your day, then this may be more crucial to stick to.
The National Strength & Conditioning Association guidelines recommend 2 - 3 sessions per week to continue to gain strength, but this depends on the level of fitness and experience of the individual. More advanced folk should consider more frequent fitness sessions, whereas the less experienced will find a good result with 1-2 sessions per week. Lucky for us all, the body adapts quickly with repetition so old exercises will be less challenging the more you do them.
These simple home ski exercises focus on the lower body to improve lower body strength and power, which in turn also helps to improve your postural control. Snowsport athletes also tend to be good at sports that require jumping like basketball, netball and volleyball, among others.
For everybody else, targeting and strengthening the lower body muscles – the glutes, hamstrings, calves and thighs –just means we get around better and more efficiently in our daily movements. On the slopes, it translates to less burny ski legs so you can get another run in before ski school pick up.
Kids ski fitness at home
Have you ever done some simple warm-up stretches with your kids only to have them laugh at you mercilessly? All while you’re struggling to touch your toes with your outstretched fingers? While these exercises are safe and perfect for the whole family to join in on, be prepared for this phenomenon again.
Kids have a lower centre of gravity, are more flexible, weigh less and have different body proportions. Chances are, they will find almost all exercises that you do together significantly easier than an adult. One way to change things up a bit while practising these isometric exercises is to throw a ball to each other while you are all holding your exercise positions. Another challenge is simply to try not to laugh while holding these positions – you’ll get a bonus ab work out with this too.
The mirror is your best friend
Not everyone has a personal trainer on hand to spot mistakes and correct techniques. Rhys suggests doing these ski fitness home exercises in front of a mirror, especially while you’re still learning how to do them correctly.
Hold for 10, rest for 3 and repeat for 6
An experienced trainer like Rhys can consolidate a variety of exercises into a work out regime but holding a position followed by a period of rest, also known as an isometric hold - is a great way to start things off.
Each exercise will follow this guideline: 6 sets x 10 seconds on, 3 seconds off.
For example, we will hold the squat at the bottom position for 10 seconds, come to the top to rest for 3 seconds then back down for 10 and repeat. In the case of the side plank, this means 10 seconds on each side until you have completed 6 sets or 6 x 10 seconds.
Rhys recommends completing this entire circuit of 5 exercises a total of 3 times which should take approximately 25 minutes, followed by appropriate stretches. When this becomes easier, you can add a weight or increase the repetitions.
How this helps: Squats replicate the movements we do when we sit down and stand up. Squeezing your abs (or pretend abs) will help to stabilise your core muscles and of course, squeezing your glutes as you straighten will … well, there’s a reason why the Kardashians love squats.
Avoid locking your knees straight when you get back up to the top.
How this helps: Besides working your glutes and quads, stabiliser muscles are also recruited to maintain your posture and stability which makes the forward lunge an excellent exercise for balance training.
Avoid lifting your heel off the ground. If your knees hurt, skip the lunges.
Bridge Hip Extension
How this helps: Hip extension exercises help us to stabilise our pelvis and lower back. These movements are used when we walk, run, stand, swim, climb stairs and of course, ski and snowboard. Strengthening our pelvis and lower back muscles help to provide a stronger foundation for these activities.
Avoid pushing from your heels. Instead, the power should come from your hips and glutes.
How this helps: Lateral lunges mimic movements that we do when we change directions, so it improves flexibility as well as strengthening your inner thigh muscles —another good exercise for postural control and stability.
Avoid leaning too forward or backward. Let your knees track forward and your hips go back, as long as you keep pressure through your heel. Keep your chest up and posture straight.
How this helps: Side planks are not only great exercises for strengthening oblique abdominal muscles, but also challenge your balance. Shoulder and hip stabilisers are also engaged in this exercise.
Avoid letting your hips sag, aim to keep a straight line from your shoulders to your feet.
Snow Performance is a strength and conditioning specialist service in Richmond, Melbourne. Snow Performance founder and director, Rhys Artridge, has a background in alpine ski racing that spans over 10 years including Europa Cup Ski Cross and race coaching at Mt Panorama in B.C, Canada. This experience is supplemented with an undergraduate and Masters degree in exercise science, focusing specifically on ski and snowboard athlete development.
Having suffered an ACL rupture twice, Rhys has empathy with the injured athlete and has tried and tested strength and conditioning programs that lead the injured athlete back to snow.
While Rhys has extensive experience on snow, he has been living and breathing the fitness industry for the last 8 years. Rhys develops and implements strength and conditioning programs for junior athletes from 12 years old, development athletes, national teams and snowsport enthusiasts.