Pat Sharples is an icon in freestyle skiing and coaches the Salomon and Oakley freeskiing teams as well as the British World Cup Half-Pipe Team. He knows better than most the physical demands of free skiing, and not only because he won the British Masters Freestyle Championships in Laax this year.
"One of my worst ever injuries was snapping my cruciate ligament in my knee but the rehab I did taught me some great conditioning exercises that all skiers should do to stay healthy and fit for the slopes," Sharples says.
So how do you train for the dizzying 360°s and off-piste runs? "Remember that skiing strength isn't really all about the legs - it goes through the core," he says. "It's a mistake to look at the ground and lose your centre of balance."
Sharples gets his skiers to do core, joint and muscle-conditioning exercises, along with trampoline work to get them used to centring their vision. He says that if you do this workout for just one month before your holiday, you'll be fully prepared to push your limits without fear on the snow.
Before you start this workout get your heart pumping and legs ready with some high-knee jogging followed by bodyweight squats, or try these freestyle warm up exercises from pro freestyle skier Fabio Studer, or even this 10-minute ski warm-up.
To mix things up, you can also add these ski exercises to your training regime.
Workout For Skiing Strength
1 Dumbbell step-up
Sets 3 Reps 30 each side
Building strength endurance in your legs is key for long days out in the snow. This exercise recruits your glutes, quads and hamstrings.
- Place your whole foot on the bench
- Hold the dumbbells with your thumbs towards the wall in front
- Keep your shoulder blades back and core braced, and make sure your shoulders stay level as you step up onto the bench
- Swap legs after 30 reps
2 Decline press-up
Sets 4 Reps 5
You will need strength endurance in your upper body so that your muscle condition is balanced and runs through your core.
- Keep your body in a straight line from shoulders to ankles
- Lower down slowly and hold for five seconds at the bottom
- Inhale as you lower and exhale as you press up
- Don’t let your hips sag
3 Single-leg squat with dumbbell
Sets 3 Reps 15 each side
This exercise is used as rehab for the muscles around the knee but it also helps protect healthy joints against injury.
- Brace your core and keep your torso up as you stand on one leg
- Squat as far as you can while maintaining balance
- Concentrate on moving straight up and down
- Swap legs after 15 reps
Curl to press
Sets 3 Reps 10
Shoulders play a part in holding the torso in a good skiing posture. Your arms need to be strong enough to balance the body.
- Start with your thumbs pointing out
- Curl the weight to your shoulder so your palms face you
- Drive the weight straight up with thumbs pointing back
- Keep your knees slightly bent
Workout For Skiing Form
1 Aquaman plank
Sets 3 Time 10sec
Your core needs to be able support your spine through the diagonal plane of motion, especially when rotating in mid-air.
- Start in a plank position with your core braced
- Lift one leg and the opposite together so they form a straight line
- Look in the mirror to check your lower back is flat, and don’t overextend your neck
- Hold for as long as you can, up to 10 seconds
- Switch to the other arm and leg
2 Vision anchor
Sets 3 Reps 4
Improve your tricks by keeping your eyes on the same spot. When you land you'll know where your body is in relation to the ground.
- On a trampoline, bounce four times and then lift your knees to your chest
- Keep looking at the same spot on the wall
- Hold your arms out to the side for balance
- Keep your torso upright
3 Ski bridge
Sets 3 Reps 10
Designed to get your hip flexors and core working together as they would while skiing to prepare them for the demands of the slopes.
- Place a medicine ball under your calves
- Keep just your heels touching the ground
- Lift your hips up so that your body is in a straight line
- Tense your core and the tops of your thighs and hold for two to three seconds
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Nick Hutchings worked for Men’s Fitness UK, which predated, and then shared a website with, Coach. Nick worked as digital editor from 2008 to 2011, head of content until 2014, and finally editor-in-chief until 2015.