Pre-Season Ski Workout

If you search the Web you will find many different approaches to pre-season ski conditioning.  It can be challenging to know which program is best for you.  While it is true that there are many different ways to achieve your goals, there are some basic principles that should drive the development of a good pre-season ski program.  In this article, I hope to explain these principles and apply them to develop a program that you can use for your pre-season workout.

 The first principle is that your workout must be safe.  This is one of the biggest mistakes people make regarding the program they choose.  You must be honest with yourself about what your conditioning level is when you start and pick a starting point that is appropriate for you.  If you have been sitting at your desk all fall and jump directly into a plyometric exercise program, you are likely to become injured before you even get on the slopes.  For you, the start point should be to develop some basic strength and conditioning and then progress into more dynamic exercises.  This means that your program will take longer and your start time should be earlier.  Your age will also play a role in the speed of your progression.  Let’s face it, as we get older, it simply takes longer to get in shape and it is much easier to injury ourselves as we work out.   

The second principle is that your pre-season ski program should match the physical demands faced while skiing.  Not everyone skis the same and so not every program will be right for you.  You should take an honest look at what kind of skier you are.  If you are an aggressive skier who skis backcountry, off the Bridger ridge, or off the tram at Big Sky, your pre-season program should look different than if you ski greens and an occasional blue run, avoiding bumps and jumps.  If you never leave the ground while skiing, you probably don’t need much jumping in your workout.   Below are some characteristics of skiing that you should look for in every pre-season ski program. 

1.       Skiing is dominated by eccentric squatting.  You perform an eccentric squat when you resist and control your speed as you lower into a squat position. 

2.       Skiing requires the ability to maintain a squat position for an extended period of time.

3.       Skiing also requires quick explosive lower extremity movements not only in the sagittal plane but also in the rotational and frontal planes.

4.       There are also significant demands on your core in the rotational and frontal planes.

These are the four components that should be in every pre-season ski workout.  Below is an example of a progression that I recommend and contains all four of these components.  This routine starts at a moderate level so depending on your level of conditioning you may need to start easier.  You can do this by doing less reps or holding the lift for shorter duration.  It also assumes that you are healthy and do not have any active injury that requires special consideration.  This program also gives a solid progression for those who are more fit and ski more aggressively.  As you progress through these exercise phases, and your conditioning level improves, you want to work through the exercises with increasing speed.  By super setting (going directly from one exercise to another without a rest) lower extremity and core exercises you can work through the strengthening progression in less than 30-45 min.  Additionally, this program can be done in your living room with very little equipment.  This program is designed to prepare you for skiing and will help reduce your chances of being injured on the slopes.  If you have any questions or have a specific injury that you would like addressed prior to skiing call us at (406) 586-4678. We would love to help you any way we can.  

Phase One – General Lower Extremity Conditioning

  • Cardiovascular fitness:  2-3 days/week

    • Run, bike, elliptical, stair climber for 30-60min

  • Strength and Power: 2-3 days/week

Pre-Season Ski Program - reps and sets only.jpg

Phase Two:  Intermediate Dynamic Exercises

  • Cardiovascular fitness:  2-3 days/week

    • Same as phase one – increased the intensity as tolerated.

  • Strength and Power:  2-3 days/week

  • Super Set #1  –  (1 set of each exercise and repeat 2-4 times)

    • Squats – Single Leg with Rotation 

      • 5-15 reps/side

    • Telemark Jumps

      • 15-20 reps/side

    • Speed Squats    

      • 20-30 reps

  • Super Set #2  –  (1 set of each exercise and repeat 2-4 times)

    • Cup Pickup

      • (4-5 cups/sd)

    • Bosu Skier Tucks (you can do this without the bosu)

      • 30-60 sec hold

    • Dynamic Step-ups (Front, Side, And Rotational)

      • 15-20/sd

  • Core:  2-3 days/week (work this into either your cardio days or strength and power days)



Phase Three:  Advanced Plyometric Exercises

Cardiovascular fitness:  2-3 days/week

  • Same as phase one just further increased the intensity as tolerated.

  • Strength and Power:  2-3 days/week

    • Super Set #3 (1 set of each exercise and repeat 2-4 times)

      • Squats – Single Leg with Rotation

        • 5-15x/sd

      • Telemark Jumps

        • 15-20/sd

      • Jump Squats

        • 10-20 reps

  • Super Set #4 (1 set of each exercise and repeat 2-4 times)

    • Bosu Skier Tucks (with or without the Bosu)

      • 30-60 sec hold

    • Box Jumps – Front

      • 10-15 reps

    • Lateral Hurdle Hop

      • 10-15 reps

    • Skier Jump Turns

      • 10-15 reps

  • Core:  2-3 days/week (same as in phase 2)

Note:  If you are a backcountry skier, I recommend that you include an incline into your workout – such as a stair climber or elliptical with the front inclined.  Also, many backcountry skiers experience hip flexor pain during and after a longer skin.  I have found the rowing machine to be a great way to improve your hip flexor strength and improves your ability to pull your ski forward through deep snow during the tour in. 


Early Season Nordic Skiing Drills

Early Season Nordic Skiing DrillsThanks to the Bridger Ski Foundation the Gallatin Valley has some of the best groomed nordic ski trails in the nation! The snow is finally here (hopefully to stay) and soon the trails will be getting into skiing shape. Early season is...

Volunteering Outside the Physical Therapy Clinic

Volunteering outside the Physical Therapy clinicVolunteering Outside the Physical Therapy ClinicWhat brings you joy? And more importantly, are you filling up your life with that list of answers? For me, it’s pretty easy. Family, friends, work, fitness, and...

A Guide to Achilles Pain

Healing Above the HEEL- A Guide to Achilles Pain The Achilles tendon is the largest and strongest tendon in the body. In fact, the tendon transmits forces nearly 4x body weight during walking and 8x body weight during running. Although the Achilles can withstand a...

Preventing Early Summer Injury

As the days get longer and the trails get drier it usually means your running and biking miles will start to increase. We get asked a lot how to prevent injury in this transition season. Often this is when we go from exercising more at the gym or on the ski hill to...