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Five Principles of Preseason Ski Training

North American Ski Training Center "NASTC"
is a multi-day, total-immersion, performance ski school for avid alpine and backcountry skiers. NASTC is dedicated to providing upper-level skiers with the best instruction and courses available. With NASTC you ski all day in small groups with PSIA (Professional Ski Instructors of America), Examiners/Clinicians (the teachers of teachers), and AMGA (American Mt. Guides' Association), Ski Guides."

Five Principles of Preseason Ski Training
Most skiing conditioning articles describe the vigorous off-snow training routines of the latest Olympic and World Cup skiing sensations. What the articles often gloss over is that these gifted athletes have full-time conditioning coaches who design, track, facilitate, and evaluate their individualized dryland training programs. For the 99.99% of us that are not part of this elite group we are left to our own devices.

Perceptions of preseason conditioning stem from Hollywood's depiction of Rocky's training regime. Remember the scene where he cut down a mature redwood tree with a hand ax, then dragged the rounds out with a metal chain draped over his shoulders? Then when he finished that, he woke up at 2:00 am to run across Philadelphia wearing a hooded sweatshirt and throwing punches at the sky (all the while keeping his raw eggs down). However, we as Americans subconsciously know that there is an easier and faster way to achieve top conditioning (it's the American way to do it fast and easy after all). Just purchase a six months' supply of creatine, read a copy of the latest Muscle and Fitness magazine, drink can of Red Bull, and you are on your way. What we all really want to know is how can we get back into skiing shape with as little trouble as possible.

The first component of pre-season training is flexibility. I quickly found out that being compared to a box turtle as far as one's flexibility was not a good thing! I also found out that it is time to redirect some of the gym time I have spent on biceps curls towards hip flexor stretches. By the way: hip inflexibility is not our fault; it is a national epidemic probably covertly initiated by the furniture industry. Flexibility training regimes should focus on hip flexors, hamstrings, trunk flexibility, and calves.

Preseason Training Tip # 1: FLEXIBILITY:
The best thing one can do preseason is to establish a stretching program. If you are of the undisciplined lot then enroll in a yoga or stretching class to loosen up. This will help motivate and guide you toward proper technique. For the self-motivated concentrate on hip flexibility, hamstrings, and trunk limbering.

Balance and coordination are the corner stone to good alpine skiing. Without it you fall down a lot. A prescription for training in this second focus area can begin with one-legged dips first with your eyes open and then with your eyes closed. Then move on to jumping rope, which is the best plyometric activity. Stair and bleacher hops are good too. When you get good at it try it on one leg.

Preseason Training Tip #2: BALANCE AND COORDINATION:
Trying to balance standing on one leg can be a challenge, however if you want to improve balance and coordination try standing on semi-circle foam tubes (available at most physical therapy practices) and doing one-legged dips. For timing and a good plyometric workout try jumping rope. Bongo boards are fun and are used by many national ski teams for coordination drills, Excellent cross-training can be done through inline skating, tumbling classes, trail running, rock climbing, and trampoline training.

Strength gaining activities.
Here, a heavy dose of legs and trunk work with moderate focus on the upper body is good. As in all these components a good warm-up period is mandatory. Once the blood is moving a series of squats, leg press, calve raises, leg curls, and ab/adduction exercises is suggested. The trunk focus could include throwing a medicine ball sideways, high crunches, low crunches, twisting crunches, and face down lower back exercises. A good drill for arms and trunk is to use an inflatable gym ball. Raise the ball to a pike position with your hands on the ground and your feet balanced on the ball. Once in this position you pull your legs toward your upper body and repeat this 10 times. It's a killer! I know what you're thinking: "we don't ski on our arms." However, your pole plant technique can make or break a run through the bumps or short turns in the steeps. That is why it's good to work the lats, triceps, and upper back muscles. With a strong upper body you can stabilize and correct while allowing the feet something solid to turn against.

Preseason Training Tip #3: STRENGTH:
Strength training helps athleticism as well as helps prevent injury. Flexibility refers to the range of motion at a joint or joints and strength will help control those movements. Most avid skiers like to work on their quad muscles and forget about the opposing hamstring muscles. Work the opposing muscles and spend extra time on the trunk this season.

Quick sprints, lateral hops, resistant running drills with a sport cord (surgical tubing), and obstacle course hops are suitable drills. Timing is everything and in skiing if you don't have quick feet the skis will soon be taking you for a ride instead of the other way around.

Preseason Training Tip #4: SPEED:
Quick lateral movements can be ingrained by placing a pillow on the floor and hoping sideways from foot to foot while maintaining a balanced upper body. An excellent resistant drill is to attach a rubber sport cord around your waist, then have a partner hold one end while you run. Your partner should provide enough resistance to keep you at bay. Try this while running sideways. This is the true test of your lateral movement agility.

Raise your heart rate. It doesn't matter what sport your chose to do this via, as long as it is one you enjoy and can commit to doing for 40-60 minutes regularly. The sky is the limit for this: mountain biking, swimming, roller blading, running, hiking, basketball, soccer, tennis, and a hundred other aerobic past times are all great ways to improve your endurance level. The key is to pick something you enjoy and then do it regularly.

Preseason Training Tip #5: ENDURANCE:
If your goal is to ski strong all day long then a solid base of aerobic fitness is essential. There has been a great deal of study in the area of aerobic activity and most agree that varying the intensity of your workouts will provide the best results. If you run, then change from low and slow one day to a faster pace the next. Interval training added to the mix will help build that aerobic base.

The components of flexibility, balance and coordination, strength, speed, and endurance should be a part of every skier's preseason training. Of course the intensity will change from World Cup racer to recreational freeskier but the fundamentals will remain the same. Most skiers over age thirty don't aspire to be the next Jonny Moseley, however we all want to be quicker, stronger, and more confident on our skis. There are huge and worthwhile benefits to be gained from preseason conditioning, namely: increased athleticism, improved technique, and injury prevention. There really is no reason not to start your program now.

Contributed By: Chris Fellows

North American Ski Training Center "NASTC is a multi-day, total-immersion, performance ski school for avid alpine and backcountry skiers. NASTC is dedicated to providing upper-level skiers with the best instruction and courses available. With NASTC you ski all day in small groups with PSIA (Professional Ski Instructors of America), Examiners/Clinicians (the teachers of teachers), and AMGA (American Mt. Guides' Association), Ski Guides.










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