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Updated Tuesday, November 20, 2012 at 04:46 PM

6 ways to get into shape for ski season

By Craig Hill
(Tacoma) News Tribune

If you are a resort skier or snowboarder, there's probably not a lot you have to do to get ready for ski season.

The chairlift will do the hard work, and you just have to slide down the hill and take breaks whenever your thighs start burning.

But why not ask a little bit more from yourself this season? Why not start the year with strong legs so that you can get the most bang for your buck? For a $60 lift ticket, you're probably going to want more than just a handful of runs.

Or better yet, what about having enough confidence in your fitness to climb something without a lift so you can experience cutting backcountry tracks in solitude?

Every trainer I've ever talked to about conditioning for ski and snowboard season offers the same exercise: wall sits. But let's dig deeper to get ready this season.

Here are some ideas:

Wall sits

Before we go beyond wall sits, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention there are good reasons this exercise is constantly suggested for training. It's great for building leg strength and it's easy to do. Simply sit against the wall as if you are perched on an invisible chair and hold it.

You can do this between reps of your current workout, while you're watching TV or during your break at work. There are numerous other ways to build leg strength, of course, but keep in mind that to get the most out of ski season you'll want to work more than just your legs.

Do more core

A strong core can do wonders for helping prevent injuries. We're not just talking glamour muscles here. Go beyond your six-pack abs and work on your glutes, back and hips, too.

Pedal

I've yet to meet a pro skier who doesn't spend a great deal of time on a bike, whether he or she likes cycling or not. Riding your mountain, road, cyclocross or spin bike is an excellent way to build cardiovascular strength and leg power.

Stretch

It's easy to just roll out of the car and head straight to the lift, but give your body a little extra help by stretching before stepping into your skis. If you aren't stretching and improving your flexibility, you're asking to get hurt.

Plyo

Plyometric exercises such as lateral hops (jumping rapidly from side to side) or box jumps (leaping repeatedly onto a sturdy box or elevated surface) will improve your explosiveness and your ability to react on the slopes. Make sure you warm up thoroughly before a plyometric workout.

Circuit training

Doing these exercises at your local gym, personal-training studio or CrossFit facility will strengthen your core and legs while helping you work on balance, flexibility, explosiveness and other aspects of fitness. These classes are excellent ways to train for ski season. Expect a wide variety of exercises, including plenty of wall sits.


STEVE RINGMAN / THE SEATTLE TIMES




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