Preparing for Winter Sports Season
|October 27, 2013||Posted by The Fit Scoop under Uncategorized|
Whether you downhill ski, cross-country ski, snowboard or snowshoe, the winter sports season is just around the corner. (Unfortunately I’m not sure if any skiing is in our future this season because of having a newborn!) If you plan to hit the slopes or the trails this winter, now is a great time to start preparing. Strong legs can help improve your performance and reduce your risk of injury. The best leg exercises will not only strengthen your legs but also improve your agility, coordination, and balance. Prepare for a successful ski season by performing the following leg exercises two to three days a week with at least 48 hours between training sessions.
The tuck position requires the ability to contract your quadriceps for an extended period of time. Wall sits are an excellent way to build isometric strength in the quads. To perform a wall sit, stand with your back flat against a wall and lower yourself until your knees are bent to 90 degrees. Your lower legs should be perpendicular to the floor and the upper legs parallel to the floor. Hold the wall sit for 30 seconds to one minute, depending on your fitness level. Rest 30 seconds and then repeat again two more times. To make the exercise more challenging, either hold the wall sit beyond one minute, perform the wall sit while holding weights in your hands, or perform the wall sit with just one leg at a time.
Jump-overs are plyometric moves that develop muscle power and strength while improving agility. They help you ski fast and push hard out of turns. To perform jump-overs, place a low object such as a rolled up towel or a book on the ground and stand with the object to your right. With your knees bent and your feet together, jump laterally over the object, landing with the object to your left. Be sure to land with your knees slightly bent and with both feet in unison. Repeat by jumping over the object again in the opposite direction. Continue jumping from one side to the other for 30 seconds as quickly as you can. Rest 30 seconds and repeat again two more times. As you become fitter, you can increase the length of time spent jumping, increase the height of the object you are jumping over, or perform the jumps with one leg at a time.
Squats are an excellent leg strengthener for skiers because they work all of the lower leg muscles at once. Performing squats with just one leg adds to their difficulty by engaging your core and challenging your balance. To perform single-leg squats, stand on your right foot and press your hips backward while simultaneously bending your right knee and lowering yourself as if you were about to sit in a chair. Your left foot remains off the floor for the movement. Keep your hips level, your core engaged and your back flat. Lower yourself as far as you comfortably can and then press through your right foot and squeeze your right glute to rise back up to a standing position. Perform 10 reps on your right side before switching to your left side. Aim to perform three sets with each leg. You can make the move more challenging by holding weights as you squat.
Romanian deadlifts are an effective way to build hamstring and gluteal strength. Strong hamstrings can help prevent ACL injuries, a common problem for skiers. To perform the exercise, hold a barbell in front of you, bend your knees slightly and hinge forward at the hips while maintaining a flat back. Keep your arms straight and lower the weight to just below your knees. Maintain a slight bend in the knee during the movement. Contract your glutes and hamstrings to pull your torso back to the starting position. Perform three sets of 10 reps to start. As you progress, increase the weight and perform four or five sets of five to six reps.