Here is the fourth exercise in our series of four primary and simple exercises to improve strength and get ready for hitting the slopes.
Remember, these four exercises 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 minimal equipment.
As always before you start any exercise program, make sure you’re healthy enough to start it safely and if you have any question/doubt or any medical condition you should check with your MD first before you start.
Decline Squat Pauses: The fourth exercise is the decline squat pause. It is an excellent exercise for the slopes in that it effectively targets your quadriceps for those long tuck positions. It is also the only exercise of the four that does require some equipment.
The Set Up: This exercise is considerably easier to set up utilizing the Reebok step equipment. You will make an eight-inch step by placing four risers–2 on each side–underneath the step.
Place two more step tops perpendicular to the 8-inch step you just built efficiently making a ramp. In a pinch, the same can be done with only one step on top. Stand on the ramp facing the ramp with your feet shoulder-width apart.
The Exercise: Standing with your feet shoulder width apart (start/end position) toes pointing down the ramp 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. Once you lower your body down as far as you can while maintaining proper form, you should pause for five seconds. Then slowly return to an upright 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.
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 decline squat.
4. Keep your heels down throughout the motion.
The Mods: Some modifications you can use to reduce/progress the exercise:
1. Change the depth. If this activity is challenging, in the beginning, a quick modification would be to not squat as far to decrease the depth. Attempt a distance that makes you feel like you’re working but not so low that you feel pain.
2. To make the exercise more challenging you can add weights to your hands or challenge your balance more you can perform the exercise as a single leg squat. In so doing remember to adjust the depth of the squat to accommodate preforming the exercise on one leg while taking even greater care in making sure that your stance leg is in alignment between your hips, knees, and ankles.
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 knees pointing in and creating more pain on the inside of the knee.
Weak hip muscles will also allow the hip to shoot out to the side.
Weak quadriceps can increase pain and pressure along the kneecap into the patella tendon just below the knee.
Decreased mobility in the ankles can lead to all 3 of the aforementioned issues.
Decreased glute strength can lead to greater use of the lumbar spine muscles potentially creating low back soreness.
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.
Check back next week for our next blog post in our new Getting Ready for Skiing and Snowboarding: Exercises and Tips Blog Series!