Here is the third in our series of four advanced exercises to improve strength, power, and endurance to get ready for the slopes. These four exercises continue to target primary leg muscles used in skiing and snowboarding (your quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, and hip abductors) with a conscious effort to focus on exercises that could be easily performed in the home with no equipment.
The advanced four exercises do require enough room to execute, so please take a moment to find a place in your home where there is a more significant amount of free space. Move some furniture around to make room, and check to make sure the ceiling is not too low if you are in your basement. Again, before you start any exercise program make sure you are healthy enough to start it safely. If you have any question/doubt or any medical condition, you should check with your MD first before beginning.
180-degree run stance squat jumps: The third exercise is the 180 degrees run stance squat jump. It is an excellent exercise for the slopes in that it effectively targets your hip abductors, hip adductors, quadriceps, gluts, hamstrings, and trunk in one use. This one is especially good for snowboarders who love to nail any jumps with backside 180s or 360s.
The Set Up: Find an open area in your home to accommodate this exercise, preferably in an area with enough space to accommodate variations in your jumping and landing. Stand with your feet shoulder width apart but with the back leg slightly behind your Front leg and your toes remaining parallel to each other. This position should look like you are about ready to take off and run.
The Exercise: For this explanation, we are going to assume your right leg will start as your back leg. Stand with your feet shoulder width apart but with the right leg slightly behind your left leg and your toes remaining parallel to each other (start/end position).
Again this position should look like you are about ready to take off and run towards your left. You are going to slowly bend your knees to lower your body into a squat position; back flat, butt sticking out behind you, hips bent while maintaining your back leg, in this case, your right leg, behind your front left leg. At the same time slowly bring both of your arms back behind you fingers pointing towards the ground.
Once you lower your body down as far as you can while maintaining proper form, you should pause before swinging your arms forward in front of your body towards the ceiling as you jump as high as you can in one motion, both arms and legs going at the same time. In mid-air, you are going to spin 180 degrees towards your back shoulder (in this case your left shoulder).
You want to land on your toes while maintaining your feet shoulder length apart and immediately bend your knees to lower yourself back down to the start/end position while swinging your outstretched arms behind you in an arc. Now you should be standing in the exact opposite motion you just were in (your Back right leg is now your front leg, and your left leg is now the back leg). You should now look like you are about to take off running to the right.
You will repeat the jump from this position utilizing the same form, but now in mid-air, you will again spin 180 degrees towards your back shoulder (now your right) landing in the original start/end position. That is one rep.
Perform ten times to make one set. Try to perform three sets of 10 reps
The Cues: Some things to watch out for:
1) You Must maintain a straight line from your hip to your knee to your foot. Do not allow your knees to go in towards each other, or your hip to stick out to the side especially when landing or jumping up as these two times require the most significant force production in your legs.
2) Hinge at your hips to ensure a flat back to maintain good posture.
3) Keep your butt back to prevent loading the knees when going into the squat.
4) Keep your knees ‘soft’ when landing. This means your legs should not be held rigid or straight on landing but that you should immediately absorb the landing and be in control back to the start/end position. Think of your legs like a spring that needs to be loaded (when you absorb the landing and squat down) before springing up into the air (when you jump back up).
5). Depending on your ceiling height you may not be able to swing your outstretched arms overhead. In that case, keep your elbows bent and swung them to shoulder height while jumping instead of overhead.
6). Be mindful of not over rotating when spinning in mid-air. A helpful hint when spinning towards your back shoulder is to spin your head around first and site a spot with your eyes while in the air to better assist your stabilization when landing. Remember where your eyes go your head will follow and so will your body. At home, you can place on objects on the floor away from your exercise area on either side of you to help train your eyes to “sticking” your landings.
The Mods: Some modifications you can use to reduce/progress the exercise.
1) Change the jump height. If this exercise is challenging, in the beginning, a quick modification would be not to jump as high to decrease the force production and maintain better control/form on the landing. Attempt a distance that makes you feel like you’re working but not so high that you feel pain.
2) Stand and rest between each half rep of the set. This will allow you time to ensure you are in proper setup form before each rep.
3) To make the exercise more challenging you can attempt to jump as high as possible, the higher you jump, the greater power and control you will need.
4) Link your jumps. Instead of pausing after each rep in the start/end position you can immediately jump up into the ensuing reps, turning the exercise into one constant fluid arc of motion throughout the ten reps.
5) Once the 180-degree spin is no longer difficulty, you can attempt a backside 360 spin landing on the same side as you started. If you do this make sure you do ten reps spinning 360 in both directions.
The Issues: There are a variety of issues that people can experience with this exercise, but a few of the more common are:
Weakness in the hips can contribute to the knee pointing in on the landing leg creating more pain in the knee both when landing and when pushing off to leap.
Weak quadriceps can increase pain and pressure along the knee cap into the patella tendon just below the knee.
Decreased mobility in the ankles can lead to all the aforementioned issues while reduced ankle stability can contribute to laterally rolling the ankle upon landing.
Decreased glute strength can lead to greater use of the lumbar spine muscles potentially creating low back soreness.
Vestibular issues can increase dizziness when attempting to spin in the air and this exercise should be avoided if you do or suspect you may have a vestibular issue.
If you are having difficulty figuring this exercise out or are experiencing pain that you would describe as being more than just out of shape, give us a call and we can give you a free screening to see if there are some underlying muscle imbalances that may be contributing to your issues as well as further education to make sure you are performing the exercise correctly.
Check back next week for our next blog post in our new Getting Ready for Skiing and Snowboarding: Exercises and Tips Blog Series!