Why "Ski Conditioning" Matters!

September 28, 2020
SLC Ski Conditioning + Winter Sports Series

If you’re planning on being on the snow this year, you need to consider strength training. And I’m not talking about performing bodyweight lunges until your legs want to fall off. I’m talking about actual strength training involving some heavy lifting. Here are the top 3 reasons to incorporate strength training into you pre-season program.

1- Performance- Eccentric strength is a huge component of skiing, which is essentially the muscle’s ability to reduce force and contributes to applying that force in a new direction. Think of being able to power out of a sharp turn. Exercises like squats, lunges and eccentric specific movements all increase this type of strength. Many skiers use the summer biking season to develop leg strength and endurance. The problem with this approach is that there is no eccentric muscle action when you cycle, which is why strength training is important!

2- Improved Endurance- Whether you ski lift served terrain or hike the backcountry, endurance is going to be a huge component! Any activity that lasts for longer than 40 seconds relies primarily on aerobic metabolism- these demands may reach 95% of elite alpine skier’s maximal aerobic power. Strength training increases endurance by improving work economy-essentially you are using less energy to move at the same speed. Cross country skiing is perhaps the most endurance based winter sport, and a study out of Norway showed time to exhaustion improving 136% after a 9 week strength training program!

3- Injury Reduction- Let’s get one thing clear-any trainer who tries to sell you on “Injury Prevention” is a snake oil salesman. No one can claim their program will prevent injury. However, strength training has been shown to drastically reduce your risk of injury. Common ski injuries include knee tears and sprains (ACL, MCL, etc.) that can be reduced when we strengthen the glutes and hamstrings. Snowboarders tend to see more lower back injuries, which can be reduced when we strengthen the hips and core. Fatigue is also a potential risk for injury-especially eccentric leg strength fatigue.  No one wants to spend the winter sitting in the lodge because you got hurt!

Strength training allows you to do more on the snow, which allows you to have more fun! It’s also a great way to minimize your chances of ending your day (or season) early with an injury.