Health December 19, 2018

Get Tuned Up

Building strength and stability for ski season

Whether you choose classic cross-country, skate, or alpine skiing, it’s hard to deny that ski season is quite possibly the best time of the year here in the Valley. In fact, for skiers and boarders alike, it’s not just the natural beauty that makes winter full of blissful moments; it’s the activities that get your blood pumping through both exertion and adrenaline. And to get the most out of winter on the hill, preparing your body for the unique movements it’s about to undergo is the ultimate game changer. Practicing the same fitness regimen you stick to in the spring and summer may not cut it.

The key to getting ready is tackling the instability that comes with the snowy territory. To do so, you’ll want to practice moves that fire up small stabilizing muscles around the joint to increase the body’s familiarity and comfort with imbalance. This helps stave off injuries, particularly those around the knee, which are the most common ski-related injuries. With that in mind, begin by focusing on core work and leg strength.

In order to determine the best conditioning exercises for snow sports season, we looked to Yvette Hubbard, fitness director at Zenergy, a Ketchum health club and spa with specialty training programs to prepare clients for ski season.

Squat jumps

Squat jumps strengthen the quadriceps.


The Move: Squat Jumps


Why:Because the quadriceps are dominant throughout the turning cycle in alpine skiing, it’s important to build the muscle group through eccentric deceleration exercises. Eccentric contractions are generally used to decelerate or to absorb energy, which is heightened by jumping out and landing into the squat.


1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.

2. Without collapsing your chest, lean back into a squat, keeping your weight in your heels rather than your toes.

3. Once in a squatting position, engage your core and jump directly up in an explosive motion.

4. Land back in a squat position, keeping your knees soft, and upon landing, immediately jump back up.

5. Repeat three sets of 10 reps.

*Modification: standing squats, leaving out the jump



The Move: Planks With Alternating Shoulder Taps

Why:Important for any athlete, building a strong core is especially crucial for skiers and snowboarders, not only for general strength, but also for staying injury-free as it’s key to staying stable in unstable conditions. Particularly when working hard during ski turns, the function of the core muscles is to maintain good positioning on your skis as you lean forward from the hips. Choosing a core move that involves only one hand or one foot making contact with the ground will cause you to be a little off balance. However, it is invaluable for improving rotational stability.


1.Start in a plank position with your wrists under shoulders, palms flat on the ground, and your feet hip-width apart.

2.Lift your right hand to tap your left shoulder.

3.Return right hand to the ground and repeat on the alternate side, tapping your left hand on your right shoulder.

4.Repeat three sets of 10 reps per arm.


Split stance lunge

The split stance lunge helps the legs and core.


The Move: Split Stance Lunge

Why:By navigating your body in a narrower plane while making vertical movements, you are working your balance and stability. This also fires up both large and small muscle groups, strengthening and stretching the hip flexor muscles that are often underutilized during sedentary time.


1.Stand with the feet hip-distance apart.

2.Keep your upper body straight, core engaged, shoulders relaxed and your chin up.

3.Step forward with your right leg, lowering your hips until both knees are bent at about a 90-degree angle. Make sure your front knee is directly above your ankle, and your other knee lowers slowly to the floor.

4.Activate your inner thighs by squeezing your legs toward each other, and keep the weight in your front heel as you push back up to standing, keeping your right foot in place so you can lower back down.

5.Continue to lower and lift with your right leg forward for 15 reps.

6.Switch your stance so that your left leg is forward. Complete 25 reps on that side. Repeat three times on each leg.

This article appears in the Winter 2018 Issue of Sun Valley Magazine.