Let’s face it—no matter how active we stay all summer, there’s usually a steep re-entry curve when we first hit the trails for the season. Unless you’re in the midst of a serious race-centric training program, those first couple days back on the snow are going to hurt a little—but not if you start prepping with some simple lower-body power development now.
Studies show that strength/power development can help create a change in a skier’s reduction of workload. In other words, stronger equals better technique equals less effort. The lower the workload, the more efficient a skier’s movement is, conserving energy—and it just makes your weekend ski a heck of a lot more enjoyable.
One easy way to work this in: the lunge. This functional exercise beats a machine for increasing overall balance and pulls more stabilizer muscles into play. Lunges activate your quads (forward lunges) glutes and hamstrings (reverse lunges),and are amazing for overall thigh strength and muscle definition. Bonus: They’re completely portable and equipment free.
To perform them, make sure your form is absolute perfection. Start in front of a mirror, stand tall with chest lifted, and put your hands on your hips for balance. As you step forward and move into lunge position, make sure your back stays upright (no tilting) and your forward knee stays at a 90-degree angle without pushing out over the toes, which will strain your knees.
Mix it up
There are variations as well. Lifting the arms in a V shape challenges strength and stability, as does adding weights, such as light dumbbells or kettle bells, but be sure to first master unweighted lunges with perfect form. Side lunges work the sides of the glutes, which are stabilizers for the hip, and walking lunges are an all-around lunge upgrade, increasing range of motion and balance.
To integrate this handy little exercise into your pre-season warmup, start with 3-5 sets of each lunge type (forward, reverse, etc.), knocking out 8-10 reps per set on each leg. Allow yourself at least a day or two of recovery between lunge workouts to ease any soreness.
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