Hopefully you have started that preseason training program for the slopes! If not get going now! While you still have plenty of time! Whether you ski or snowboard, starting your preseason training now will improve your strength, endurance, and flexibility in time to improve your overall performance and decrease your chance of injury on the slopes. You ever hear anyone in the lodge complain that their legs were too strong shooting straight down the mountain and they miss stopping four to five times to rest? Yeah, me neither!
Cardio: When it comes to cardio, pick your poison. You can do something as cheap as running, enjoy the fall foliage on your road or mountain bike, or you can spend the money to get a ski trainer. The type of cardio is not as important as the fact you are doing cardio.
Stretching: Stretching is an important component for the slopes. With greater flexibility, you can improve your overall ability and prevent significant injuries. There are various types of stretching techniques; static versus dynamic, to foam roll or not, and various types of yoga. Ultimately, everyone is different and flexibility is just as different between different types of people. Therefore, the key is consistency. Whatever method you feel improves your flexibility the most, utilize it on a consistent basis to get the greatest gains you can.
Preseason Training for the slopes
Last week we covered the first two basic exercises that will be instrumental in carving up those legs to better carve the mountain. This week we give you 2 more. As we progress through the eight exercises attempt each three times a week as we build your program, either as a stand alone exercise program or as a part of your regular exercising. As always, before you start any type of exercise program, make sure you are healthy enough to start it safely. If you have any questions, doubts or any medical conditions, you should check with your MD first before you rock and roll.
Here are the next two Basic Exercises!
The third exercise is the side lunge. It is an excellent exercise for the slopes that effectively targets your hip abductors, hip adductors, quadriceps, glutes, and hamstrings in one .
The Set up: Find an open area in your home to accommodate this exeRC preferably in an area with enough space to accommodate moving side to side without hitting anything. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.The Exercise: Standing with your feet shoulder width apart (start/end position) you are going to take a step with your right leg out to the right side almost as far as you can (midstance position). You can place your right foot slightly turned out. You are going to transition your weight over your right leg while lowering your body down towards the ground as low as you can by bending your right knee when you are descending while maintaining your left knee extended. Once the bend in your right knee is at or beyond 90 degrees, you are going to return to a standing position returning your right leg to a shoulder-width distance. That is one rep. Perform ten times lunging out with the right leg followed by ten times lunging out to the side with the left leg to make one set. Try to perform three sets of 10 reps on each leg.
The Cues: Some things to watch out for: 1) You must step out far enough with your leg to accommodate the depth of your lunge, the lower the lunge the further the step. 2) Maintain an upright trunk position and avoid bending at the waist when going down into the lunge. 3) Keep your trunk back to prevent loading the toes and knee when going into the lunge. 4) Maintain the opposite leg as straight as possible. 5) Don’t just slide your knee out over your toes to go deeper, but actively attempt to lower your body straight down towards the ground.
Modifications: Some modifications you can use to reduce/progress the exercise: 1) Change the depth. If this exercise is challenging, in the beginning, a quick adjustment would be to not step out as far to decrease the depth you can squat. Attempt a distance that makes you feel like you’re working but not so low that you feel pain. In the beginning, it may be useful to put something down (a footstool or yoga block) in between your legs as a handhold to maintain your balance for when you are lowering down. As you get stronger, lower the size of the object. 2) To make the exercise more challenging you can add weights to your hands or challenge your balance more when you return to the upright position instead of immediately returning the striding leg to the start position you can kick it into the air and then slowly, maintaining control, you can lower it back down into the midstance position.
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 stride leg creating more pain in the knee. 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 all the issues as mentioned above. Decreased glute strength can lead to greater use of the lumbar spine muscles potentially creating low back soreness. Weakness in the hip adductors can lead to decreased stride length and depth throughout the exercise.
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.
Modifications: 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 these exercises 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 some underlying muscle imbalances 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!