We are 2 weeks into some preseason training program for the slopes! Here’s to hoping you’ve been able to get the exercises in at least 3 times each week. If not get going now! While you still have plenty of time! Whether you ski or snowboard, starting your preseason training for the slopes 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 on the slopes complain that they miss the good ol’ days when their legs would be so fatigued they couldn’t go back out to the slopes after lunch? 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
Over the past two weeks we have covered four basic exercises that will be instrumental in strengthening your legs to better crush the mountain. This week we are going to transition to some more advanced exercises. 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 first two Advanced Exercises!
The first exercise is the squat jump. It is an excellent exercise for the slopes in that it effectively targets your quadriceps, hamstrings, and gluts dynamically just like descending the uneven slopes.
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.
The Exercise: Standing with your feet shoulder width apart (start/end position) toes parallel to each other pointing forward. You are going to slowly bend your knees to lower your body into a squat position; back flat, butt sticking out behind you, hips turned. At the same time gradually 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. 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. 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 greatest 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 swing them to shoulder height while jumping instead of overhead.
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 to not 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 low that you feel pain. 2) Stand and rest between each 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.
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 issues mentioned above. Ankle instability can lead to unevenness when landing which could contribute to rolling the ankle.
The second exercise is the speed skater. It is an excellent exercise for the slopes in that it effectively targets your hip abductors, hip adductors, quadriceps, glutes, and hamstrings in one exercise.
The Set Up: Find an open area in your home to accommodate this exercise, preferably in an area with enough space to accommodate moving side to side without hitting anything. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.
Exercise: Standing with your feet shoulder width apart (start/end position) toes parallel to each other pointing forward you are going to leap to your right like you are jumping over a small stream or large puddle, landing on your slightly bent right leg.
Once your right foot lands on the ground you are going to further bend your right knee to load your right leg into a one-legged squat position (back flat, butt sticking out behind you slightly, right hip bent) while allowing the momentum to carry your left leg behind your body, crossing past your right leg. At the same time, your right arm will swing behind you from the moment you land while your left arm will cross in front of your chest. Once your right leg is loaded, you will immediately leap back to your left, again like you are jumping sideways over a small stream or large puddle, landing on your slightly bent left leg.
Again, once your left foot lands on the ground you are going to further bend your left knee to load your left leg into a one-legged squat position (back flat, butt sticking out behind you slightly, left hip bent) while allowing your momentum to now carry your right leg behind your body, crossing past your left leg. Similar to when leaping to the right your left arm will swing behind you from the moment you land while your right arm will cross in front of your chest. That is one rep.
Perform ten times leaping to the right and then immediately back to the left as if both leaps are one fluid motion to make one set. Try to perform three sets of 10 reps.
The Cues: Some things to watch out for: 1) You Must leap out far enough to the side with your leg to increase the force production used, the further the leap the higher the force production and consequently the more significant the knee bend required on the landing leg. 2) Maintain a slightly bent trunk position to counteract the weight of your opposite leg crossing behind you. Think of an Olympic speed skater’s position during their race. 3) Keep your butt back to prevent loading the toes and knee when landing and pushing off on the stance leg. 4) Allow momentum to help load each side by allowing both the opposite leg and both arms to swing somewhat freely. 5) Maintain your feet pointing forward each time your stance leg lands on the ground.
The Mods: Some modifications you can use to reduce/progress the exercise: 1) Change the distance of the leap. If this exercise is challenging, in the beginning, a quick modification would be to not leap out as far to decrease the depth you squat sown. Attempt a distance that makes you feel like you’re working but not so far that you feel pain. In the beginning, it may be useful to just hop from one leg to the other. As you get stronger, attempt to increase the distance you travel sideways. 2) To make the exercise more challenging, you can increase the distance traveled in each sideways leap. Try adding some type of marker to jump past as a goal. Additionally, you can make the exercise harder by pausing in the single legged squat position prior to leaping back the other direction, set a goal of a 2 second pause between jumps where you are paused like a loaded spring before jumping back the other direction, and as you get stronger you can increase the tie of the pause.
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 more excellent 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 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!