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Preseason Ski Training. Hit the Slopes in Tip-Top Shape!

Skiing is a wonderful sport, but each year recreational skiers suffer injuries when they hit the slopes because they are not  physically prepared. Physical preparation is paramount!  Most recreational skiers get on the slopes 5-10 days per year. Advanced skiers a little more.  Most people don’t consider the importance of pre-season training.  We see more ski injuries in our practice every year due to lack of preparedness for the sport.

Now is the time to be thinking about getting in shape–before the first snow ever falls.

The good news is that there are many excellent strength and conditioning exercises you can do in advance to ensure you have an injury-free ski season. You need strong legs, a strong core, and strong arms.

Cardiovascular Fitness

You must build an aerobic base to help strengthen your cardiovascular system. Endurance workouts of 30 to 60 minutes, 3-5 times a week help with this area. You want to work at a pace where you are are sweating, but you are still able to carry on a conversation with your workout partner.  Running, hiking, rowing, bicycling, inline skating, swimming, stair climbing and elliptical machines are all appropriate for building an aerobic base.

This type of training boosts your body’s ability to consume and deliver oxygen to your muscles and will decrease fatigue while skiing.

Once you’ve established an aerobic base you can add anaerobic exercises to your training regimen. Anaerobic means “without oxygen” and refers to the ability of your muscles to function in a state of oxygen deprivation. When you ski continuously for 2 minutes, your body uses the aerobic and anaerobic systems about equally. Lactic acid is a byproduct of anaerobic function and is responsible for the burn you feel in your thighs at the bottom of a ski run. By training your anaerobic system, you will improve your body’s ability to process lactic acid, so that you can ski at a higher intensity for longer periods of time. Anaerobic training is often done by performing intervals of hard work for thirty seconds to three minutes followed by a rest period of equal time. An example would be inline skating rigorously for 1 minute, coasting for 1 minute, then repeating 5 more times. You could then take a 5-10 minute break and do another set. The total amount of time that you are working hard should be 10-24 minutes a session.

Strength Training

Strength training is an important component and can be started two to three times per week at the same time that you begin building your aerobic base. You need to have the strength to move and stabilize your joints as you power through changing snow conditions.

Lower extremity skiing-specific exercises include

  • Squats

  • Dead lifts

  • Front and side lunges

  • Hamstring curls

  • Bridging on the physioball

  • Wall sit

  • Leg press.

Good technique is imperative to prevent an injury in preseason! When possible use free weights since they require more balance and coordination than machines.

While most skiers know that they need strong legs,  it is also crucial that you strengthen the core muscles that surround your midsection.

A strong core allows for the extremities to work quickly and efficiently. Now is a great time to start that yoga class you have been thinking about. Yoga is a great way to incorporate both stretching and strength. Beside the traditional core exercises, we like to work on the physio and bosu ball,  and also incorporate front and side planks into the program


A good training program always incorporates maintaining or improving your flexibility. The  three major muscle groups that should be targeted are the:

  • Hamstrings  –  Quadriceps  –  Calf

Stretching exercises should be performed after a warm-up period and not at rest.

Balance and Agility

Paying attention to this area will greatly enhance the connection between your muscles and your brain.

The next component of a good ski conditioning program is balance and agility training.

Great exercises to work on balance and agility include balance board squats, physio-ball training, functional grid reaching, and agility ladders.

Explosiveness and Coordination

The final component is explosiveness and coordination training. This component can be developed through one to two sessions per week of plyometrics, which are jumping and bounding exercises that incorporate controlled landings with quick and powerful takeoffs. Plyometric training is designed to improve reaction time and increase explosive power, eccentric muscle control, and coordination of fast movements. For more advanced skiers, this type of training simulates on-slope conditions, reactions, and explosiveness. Box jumps, scissor or tele-jumps, and hurdle bounds.

It’s always a good idea to consult with a knowledgeable physical therapist if you need help designing a personal program.

Paspa PT will be happy to conduct a pre-season ski fitness screen to help you identify your deficits and determine which areas to focus on.

Call us today at 212.967.5337 or visit us at

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