The Best Leg Exercises for Skiing

The Best Leg Exercises for Skiing

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You'll get more from your skiing if you turn up with well-conditioned legs.

Ryan McVay/Digital Vision/Getty Images

If you love to ski, you're probably looking forward to your next ski trip and hoping it's going to be a good one. You can make your ski trip even more enjoyable by hitting the slopes feeling fit and strong -- especially in the legs, which bear the brunt of the work. So get them in good shape by doing some leg conditioning exercises.

Build Better Balance

Squats are one of the most complete leg exercises you could do and they are particularly useful for ski training when you do them using a balance trainer such as a BOSU, inflatable cushion or wobble board. Stand on your balance trainer with your feet around hip-width apart. Push your hips backward, bend your knees and squat down until your knees are bent to roughly 90 degrees. Make sure you push evenly with both legs and correct any left-to-right shifts in balance. Stand back up and repeat. Do two to four sets of 12 to 20 repetitions.

Catch Some Air

Skiing is as much about balance and coordination as it is about strong legs. Lunge jumps develop all of these fitness characteristics simultaneously. Take a large step forward and then bend both legs. Lower your rear knee to within an inch of the ground. Jump straight up into the air and switch legs so you land with your leg position reversed. Immediately spring up and into another jump. Perform two to four sets of six to 12 repetitions of this strenuous exercise.

Leap To It

Pushing off your edges to turn, especially when you are going fast, places a lot of stress on the outside muscles of your thighs, which are the abductors. This side-to-side movement can be mimicked by performing lateral jumps over a low hurdle, box or other barrier. Stand sideways on to a shin-high obstacle and then jump over it. Land softly on the balls of your feet and then immediately spring back over. Try to spend as little time on the ground as possible -- imagine the floor is covered with hot coals. Do two to four sets of six to 12 repetitions on each side.

Squat 'Til You Drop

Because wall squats develop leg endurance, they are a particularly effective skiing exercise. Lean your back against a smooth wall and slide your back down until your thighs are roughly parallel to the floor and your shins are vertical. Push your butt and back against the wall and then hold this position for 30 to 60 seconds or until you cannot continue. Rest for a moment and then repeat for a total of two to four sets.

It's Okay To Be a Slacker

Slacklining provides a fun but effective way to develop leg strength and balance at the same time. You'll need access to a slackline and some sufficiently strong anchors, such as trees, to perform this exercise. Set up your slackline according to the manufacturer's instructions. With a ski pole in each hand for balance, mount the slackline and then walk slowly between the trees. Don't worry if you don't succeed the first time. Just keep practicing and, as your balance improves, you'll soon be able to traverse the entire length. Set your slackline up as low to the ground as you can so any falls are unlikely to cause injury.


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