How to Build Strength For Those Ski Legs

Here in northern Colorado the leaves are changing and snow is beginning to blanket the high country. Winter will be upon us in no time, which means…Ski season is upon us! If you are new to the Chicks Training Tips take a few minutes to read the previous newsletters, there’s a lot of great information in there. This is training tip #25 which includes focusing on building strength in your ski legs! It’s incredibly beneficial for “the Chicks” to be introduced to new movements and concepts for training.

Maybe you’re stoked to get into backcountry skiing this season so you’ve registered for one of our many new Intro to Backcountry Skiing courses or Avalanche Rescue Courses with Chicks and the Silverton Avalanche School. Or perhaps you’re a more advanced skier it’s off to La Grave to ski the steeps of the French Alps.

Whatever the case may be, we need to build a good base of aerobic stamina and ski leg power into the mix for uphill travel, carving turns, dropping in for epic fluffy pillowy powder for days and 5,000 vertical days, so here we go! If backcountry is your game you’ll need uphill stamina and enough strength left for the downhill you earned.

Uphill is dramatically different that just going on a run around the neighborhood. If you live in an area where hills are available let’s log some vertical outside. If not, get on a step mill or find a tall building with a stairwell, run or speed hike up that stairwell. We’ve got 8 weeks to prep, then we’ll want to start fine tuning your skills on the slopes in December. Whoop!

Week 1- 4:
2 days a week set a goal of a minimum of 60min uphill effort, whether outside or inside, use that iPhone, Suunto GPS, or whatever the machine you’re using tells you is the vertical you are accomplishing. Numbers are fantastic motivators. For 4 weeks build a base and try to push yourself to accomplish a little more each week. For example, week one in 60min you manage 1000 vert feet gained understanding there is an up and a down element if outside. By week four maybe you’ve improved to 1250 vert.

 

Week 5 – 8:

Let’s push a little now that you have a base. Let’s try one slightly longer session a week 90 -120 minutes of sustained uphill for vertical gain. Maybe this is 2000 vertical feet maybe more. For our second day of the week we’re going to push our threshold a bit, warm up for 10 minutes then go hard for 10 minutes uphill, recover for 5 minutes, repeat this cycle three times and cool down.

Once the snow flies and you are skinning and skiing for days you’ll be so stoked that you took the time to prep your legs and lungs!

Now that we’ve started to fine tune your legs and lungs for the stamina for the uphill we need to build a reserve of strength and power for the down hill. Here are a few example works for gym training, all workouts can be accomplished in an hour, with a few minutes extra for cool down. All the movements in these workouts have been covered in past training tips aside from two movements with videos at the end.

Check out the training section of our YouTube Channel.

 

WO#1 for ski legs
Warm up 10:00 row, run, ski erg.
2 x 8 Shoulder openers
2 x 5 Cuban press
3 x 5 Wall squat
2 x 8 Goblet squat
2 x 5 Squat jumpThen:

Work up to 3RM Front Squat

Then:

3x FS + 8x Box Jump @ 18 – 24”

6 rounds reciting as necessary keep all movements quality. if no box available you can substitute jump with a heavy KB swing.

Then:

60 sec wall sit with a weight in your lap, medicine balls or slam ball work well followed by
30 secs split jumps and
20x Good morning or back extensions.

x 5 rounds

Then:

10x push up
10x leg lower
5 rounds
Cool Down

 

WO#2 for ski legs
Warm up 10:00 row, run, ski erg.
2 x 8 Shoulder openers
2 x 5 Cuban press
3 x 5 Wall squat
2 x 8 Goblet squat

2 x 5 Squat jump

Then:

Dynamic-Isometric Back Squat with 5-sec pause in each position, 4 stops (Hold at top, three stops to bottom, after last hold jump out of bottom of squat, complete six rounds of these efforts. Followed immediately by 8 burpees + rest 60 secs.
5 total rounds.
Use a reasonable weight on your back squat so you can actually jump and you can finish all six reps per round without reduced quality on hold and jump.
Then:
30 sec box jump
30 sec jump on and off a bosu ball on the floor, laterally round side up.
30 secs squat hold
30 secs rest

x 5

Finish with:

10x KTE
5x Pull Up
x 5
Cool Down

 

WO#3 for ski legs
Warm up 10:00 row, run, ski erg.
2 x 8 Shoulder openers
2 x 5 Cuban press
3 x 5 Wall squat
2 x 8 Goblet squat

2 x 5 Squat jump

Then:

10x Headcutter with KB
10x Back extension
10x Split jump
60 secs rest

5 rounds

Then:

1 – 10

Squat Ladder with partner. Begin reps from the bottom of the squat, each partner holds a squat while the other works.

Player one does one squat then holds at the bottom. Player two then does their first squat. Player One then performs two squats while player two is holding. Then player two does two squats while player one holds at the bottom of the squat. Players alternate reps and holds up to 10. Challenge yourself and try to go back down the ladder.

Finish with:
60 secs mtn climbers + 60 secs sit ups + 30 sec ring support or plank if no rings available.
5 rounds

Cool Down

There are videos of all movements in previous Chicks Newsletters on our YouTube Channel, and I’ve added videos of movements that are new in the above workouts:

Headcounters

Back Extensions

As always if you are unsure how to perform any of these movements get professional instruction.

If you need information on building your ski leg strength for a specific trip of any nature you can contact me via email.

Carolyn Parker
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