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Ski Yourself To Victory

  • Written by  Ash Phelps
The key to improving balance and coordination in your body is to give it more to think about at one time. The key to improving balance and coordination in your body is to give it more to think about at one time.

Skiing holidays are becoming more popular for winter getaways. Prices for all-inclusive European ski packages have been dramatically reduced in recent years, and more slopes are constantly being discovered. However, with all the excitement it’s quite easy to forget that skiing is actually a sport rather than a stroll in the park. Balance, coordination, anticipation and strength are just some of the elements associated with the sport. If you want to be more of a snow king than a snow ball then preparation for a skiing getaway is essential!

We’re not talking extreme boot camp circuits or 100kg deadlifts here, we’re talking pure core and balance training that will improve your flexibility and confidence. Even if a ski trip isn’t on the cards for you just yet, these training exercises can help you level up on whatever sports you play. Expect to work muscles that you may not have felt before and a suppleness in your joints that will aid you in any exercise you do.

Background

The key to improving balance and coordination in your body is to give it more to think about at one time. Keeping your body guessing is only half the job; your brain will have to work equally hard to know when to shift your weight and the exact rate to do it in. Getting your body in check and your mind ticking along in unison will enable you to process thoughts and actions faster on the slopes. You’ll spend more time skiing in between those trees rather than going through them. The exercises that will prepare you for your skiing adventure will focus on, and work more than one body part at a time. You won't find sit-ups or lunges here. Instead we’ll look at more advanced, less familiar, exercises that will give you quick results and oodles of benefits to aid your performance when you hit the slopes.

A strong and flexible core is the foundation of your skiing performance. Improving your core will make balance and turning significantly easier. You’ll also improve your posture, helping you work with the snow instead of against it. Good flexibility will provide you with huge benefits. If you tend to skip the stretching element of your workout, now is the time to bring it back into play. Simple arm and leg stretches should be preformed before and at the end of any workout; without a doubt before you put your ski’s on. Injury is the last thing you want to end your trip. Stretching should never be ignored. Strength in skiing is by no means essential but will only aid you if you’ve got it but adding stacks of weight to your workout is not the way. Instead of lifting big with low repetitions, we’ll be looking at building strength primarily by using our own body weight and keeping the repetitions at mid level where applicable. There’s no better time to get yourself leveled up and ahead of the game than right now! Prepare yourself well, and your ski trip will take you to new heights (literally).

Single Leg Dumbbell Deadlift

Balance is critical while skiing and this exercise will not only improve your balance but also give you the confidence to accelerate yourself on the slopes once you grasp it. Remember, practice makes perfect, so if you find it hard to keep your balance at first, don’t despair - stay focused, and you will reap the rewards.

Standing with a light dumbbell in your right hand lift your left foot bending 90 degrees at the knee so that your foot is behind you. Then, keeping your right leg as straight as you can, lean forward and lower the weight to the ground while balancing on your left leg. Return up to the starting position and repeat 10-12 times. Switch the weight to your left hand and perform the exercise again while balancing on your left leg. Try for 3 sets on each leg.

Swiss Ball Russian Twists

A great exercise to strengthen your core whilst giving your body and mind more to think about and control with the added twist. Sit on a Swiss ball and, for support, either have a training partner hold your feet, or secure them under something that won’t move. Your starting position is key - lean back with your arms outstretched in front of you until you feel a nice tension in your abdominals. Too far back and you’ll be putting extra strain on your back and too far forward will make the exercise ineffective; aim for around a 45 degree lean back. Once you’re in position begin to slowly twist yourself to your left keeping your arms outstretched in front of you. Aim for a 90-degree turn if you can, then bring yourself back to the starting position and carry through to your right without pause. Try for 3 sets of 10-12 twists. Once comfortable you can attempt holding a weight or medicine ball with the twists. I would suggest nothing more than 6kg’s to familiarize yourself with the extra tension, after which up to 10kg’s should do nicely.

Plank With Leg Raise

The Plank can produce muscles in your core that would make a whole world of men jealous. Add a leg raise to the exercise and you are going to another level, which can aid your ski performance. The plank is performed on your elbows and your toes while facing the floor. Keep your elbows at a 90-degree bend and have your feet together. Your back should be flat and in a straight line from your head to your heals. Check yourself against a mirror to make sure your back doesn’t drop.
With your abdominals contracted you are now performing the plank exercise. Hold this initial position for 10 seconds and then begin to raise one foot off the floor about 6 inches. Hold this position for another 10 seconds before lowering your foot back down and lifting up the other for another 10 seconds. Once completed, rest for 30 seconds before performing the exercise again. Do 3 sets. When this becomes second nature you can incorporate a bend in the knee with the raised leg. Begin by raising your foot 6 inches off the ground while holding your balance. Then bend at the knee aiming for 90 degrees; your foot should now be pointing towards the ceiling. To make the exercise even more challenging, work yourself up to the entire exercise lasting 60 seconds instead of 30 seconds and don’t overindulge on the 30 second rest

Single Leg Squats

Not forgetting your legs, but incorporating further balance and core work, this 3-in-1 exercise will work your quads, glutes and hamstrings. Standing with your feet shoulder-width apart, raise your left leg off the ground so that your left ankle is in line with your right leg's knee. Bend at your right knee until your thigh is parallel with the floor whilst keeping your right foot flat, pause and then return to the top. Perform 3 sets of 10-12 reps. To make things harder, try holding a pair of dumbbells in each hand.

Shoulder Press With Twist

Your arms will be tested on the slopes, although hopefully not from pushing yourself up and out of the snow too often. This exercise will strengthen your shoulders and arms while testing your core and improving flexibility. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart with a pair of dumbbells in each hand. Raise the weights up to a starting position with your arms at 90 degrees to your sides. Push the weights up and incorporate a twist as far to your left as is comfortable. Keep your feet flat on the ground and touch the dumbbells above your head as you finish the twist. When you begin to lower the weight, twist yourself back until you are in the starting position. Pause, and then repeat this movement to your right. Perform 3 sets of 10-12 reps.

With the knowledge and exercises provided here, you will greatly improve your performance and abilities both on and off the slopes (even if you are a seasoned pro). Of course, nothing is ever going to actually beat getting out on the slopes and practicing the sport for yourself, but you can do so with confidence in knowing that your body is prepared for the workload. You’ll find yourself being able to control your body’s reflexes better than before, even when adrenaline takes over. Now that you’ve got the knowledge and training, you just need a slope.


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Last modified on Wednesday, 29 June 2011 06:28

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