We all know how brutal getting back on the slopes after months away can be for your muscles. If you want to skip the aches and pains, now is the time to prepare your body. Thankfully, you don't need to spend hours a day working on your ski or snowboarding fitness because incorporating just a few key moments into your day can make a huge difference. Here are five killer moves recommended by physical therapist Linda Scholl, who runs a ski fitness class at University of Utah Health Care, you can do right at home. Do these moves every day and we guarantee you won't regret it come opening day.
Before jumping right in, make sure you do 5 to 10 minutes of light cardio to warm up your muscles. Take a lap around the block or if you're short on space, try alternating between high knees, butt kicks, and jogging in place.
One Leg Deadlifts
Standing on one leg, keeping your back straight, hinge at the hip and lift the unweighted leg behind you as your trunk bends forward. If the flexibility is there, reach to the ground with your hands. Finish by coming up with the back straight. Do 15 repetitions on each side. Here's a video tutorial.
Want to make this move more challenging? Grab a weight and hold it in the same side hand as the leg that is being lifted.
Ready to get your heart pumping? Place a sturdy box on the ground (or use a small stair to your side) in front of you. Using both feet jump onto the box/stair and the jump back down. Don't have a box or stair? Try jumping back and forth over a line. Do 30 jumps, making sure to keep your abs tight throughout the exercise.
Ok, the last thing you probably want to do is run up stairs, but this is really effective way to build strength and get in cardio for the season. "Running or jumping up stairs is always a great way to get strength for skiing," says Scholl. "Make up patterns as you go up: one foot at at time, grapevine sideways up/down, 2 foot jump up to the next, skip as many steps as you can. Use a railing to be safe if you need to but don't limit your creativity." Do three minutes of stairs a day ahead of the season.
There are dozens of different types of squats you can do, but you should start with the basics. Stand up straight, hinge at your hips, and lean your trunk forward, then aim your buttocks back as you squat deep till your legs are at roughly a 90 degree angle. You can stand in front of a chair and squat into it to make sure you're getting low enough. To make it more challenging, you can go for a one-legged squat, add weights, or go for more repetitions. "If you are only using one leg at a time, be sure to keep your knee over your ankle, your hips level, an your trunk square." says Scholl. Do at least 2 sets of 12 squats.
Strengthen your core by diving into plank and side plank for 60 seconds each. To get into forearm plank, place forearms flat on the ground, with your shoulders directly over your elbows, and lift your body horizontal (keep your back straight) to the floor, putting weight on toes (or knees if you need to make it easier). Once you've held your regular forearm plank for a minute, roll onto your right forearm and stack your feet, hold for a minute and switch sides. "Make sure to flatten your lower back to engage your core," says Scholl. You can even raise your left arm up to the sky or lift your top leg for an extra challenge.
At the end of your workout, make sure you take a few minutes to stretch. Need some suggestions, try these yoga poses for skiers and snowboarders.