9 Effective Ski Exercises to Prepare you for Skiing Season

woman stretching before exercise
Christa Burkett
By Christa Burkett
Last updated on February 22, 2021
Table of Contents

I don’t care if you’re new to the sport, or if you’ve been skiing since the very first day, you can’t deny the fact that skiing is an intense, arduous physical activity.

Sure, from the bottom of the hill, throughout the chalet window, it might look like skiers are slowly making their way down a gentle slope. But up close, in reality, they’re likely hitting speeds of 10 to 20 miles per hour, carving over hardpacked snow, ice, and fresh powder (If they’re lucky).

But in order to make it look as graceful and as elegant as most skiers do from the bottom of the hill, it takes a whole lot of lower, core, and upper body strength, stamina, and endurance. Your ski ability level doesn't matter here - no exceptions.

That’s why I’ve decided to put together the following guide on the absolute best ski exercises to do in order to get in shape for ski season. 

So turn the TV off, put down your smartphone, unplug the radio, and get ready. 

Because we’re diving into the 9 best, glute-toning, calf-burning, hamstring-stretching ski exercises to prep your body for the slopes. 

Skiing Exercises For Legs - The Bottom Burners

Although skiing uses almost every muscle in the body, there’s no denying the fact that the legs take the brunt of the punishment. 

That’s why it’s more important than anything else to make sure that your legs are in shape for ski season. 

Not only are the following exercises great for getting into shape, but the stronger your leg muscles become over time, the more control you’ll have over your skis, making skiing a much safer, and more comfortable experience. 

1. Squats

woman doing a deep squat outdoors

Sitting down and standing up doesn’t usually seem like an intense workout, but when you get started doing 10 or 20 squats in a row, you’ll quickly start to feel almost every muscle in your calves, thighs, glutes, and core begin to burn. 

Although squats are super simple to do, it’s important that you ensure proper form while performing each squat. 

  1. To do a squat, you’ll start by standing with your feet facing forward, roughly shoulder-width apart. 
  2. Then you want to squat down until your thighs are nearly parallel with the ground. 
  3. Try to keep your knees behind your toes, your heels planted firmly into the ground, and if you want, you can try holding your arms directly out in front of your to help you keep your balance. 

Then, rise back up to your starting position, and repeat about 20 to 30 times before resting.

2. Calf Raises

It’s not surprising to know ankle injuries are a common occurrence in the world of skiing. 

After all, it’s your feet and ankles that keep your entire body attached to your skis. 

Therefore, it’s a good idea to use calf raises to help you strengthen your calves and ankles as part of your skiing workout.  

To perform a calf raise, simply stand with your feet hip-width apart, and then, raise yourself up onto the balls of your feet, while trying to maintain strength and alignment in your calves and ankles. 

You can also do this exercise with a leg press machine. However, calf raises are the perfect example of a simple, easy-to-do workout that can be done at home without any equipment. 

3. Runner’s Lunges

woman doing runners lunges at night

For another really good burn that’s sure to get your quads, glutes, and hamstrings in shape for the hills, make sure to add lunges to your workout routine. 

Once again, you’re going to want to start with your feet about shoulder-width apart. 

Then, you’ll want to take a large step forward with your right foot, lunging into it until your right knee is bent at about 90-degrees, and your rear, left knee is just a few inches off the ground. 

From here, you’ll want to push off from your right heel, returning to the starting position. 

Then, alternate by stepping forward with your left foot and repeating the exercise, while continuously maintaining a strong core and keeping your hips and shoulders in alignment at all times. 

4. Single-Leg Deadlifts

While skiing, your balance is greatly influenced by your ankle stability. And this is exactly why I love the single-leg deadlift, which engages your body’s muscles much in the same way that skiing down a hill does.

For this exercise, start by standing completely upright. Next, extend your hands forward, start leaning forward at the same time, and slowly raise one of your legs behind you, keeping the other leg slightly bent at the knee to help with your balance.  

As you lean forward, make sure that your back leg stays out as straight as possible, always keeping it in-line with the rest of your body, and your arms extended forwards towards the ground, but not touching. 

Essentially, you want to work on keeping your balance and being able to maintain it on a single foot. 

Ground your base leg, and hold for a few seconds, then, release, returning back to your starting position. 

Repeat 4 or 5 times, and then switch legs.

As you gain more strength, you might want to try lifting a smaller-sized weight in your hands as you lean forward. This helps to add a bit more of a core workout to the single-leg deadlift. 

Core Exercises For Ski Season

In order to absorb a lot of the impacts while tearing down a ski hill, it’s important that skiers have strong core muscles to help protect their spine and lower back from injury. 

Therefore, make sure to add these 3 simple core exercises to add to your pre-season ski routine. 

5. Situps Or Crunches

Fitness woman doing abs crunches

To do situps or crunches, start by laying on your back, bending your knees, and planting your feet firmly on the ground to help you keep yourself stabilized. Either bring your hands up to your ears, elbows out or cross your arms against your chest. 

Next, engage your core muscles to sit up towards your knees, crunching your ab muscles together as you go. It might help to use a weight or something heavy to weigh down your feet, keeping them on the ground.

Start by doing sets of 10 to 20 crunches, and increase your repetitions as your core gets stronger. 

6. Plank Reaches

Plank reach exercise

This next exercise is great for targeting a good range of muscles, including your shoulder, arms, legs, and core. 

Plank reaches really push the body to resist its own natural desire to rotate, which makes it great for strengthening both the posterior and anterior sides of the body. 

To do a plank reach, simply start from a plank position, with your forearms flat on the ground. 

Make sure to keep strength throughout your core at all times, squeezing your abs as your move, and keeping your feet firmly grounded, just slightly wider than hip-width. 

From here, you’re going to want to raise one arm off the ground, reaching forward, while trying to keep your torso as straight as possible. 

The key, again, is the resist letting your body rotate as you use one arm to reach ahead while also maintaining your balance with the other. 

If you can, I recommended starting with about 2 to 4 sets of 10 to 15 reaches. If this exercise is too easy, you may try lifting the leg opposite to the arm you raise at the same time as well.

7. Leg Raises

woman performing leg raises to strengthen her core

Leg raises are great for prepping your core for ski season because they target most of your lower abdominal muscles, which skiers rely on to be able to maintain control over their lower body. 

To perform a leg raise, simply start by laying on your back, and raising both feet off the ground just a few inches. Then, you’re going to want to squeeze your ab muscles and slowly raise your legs away from the ground. 

Make sure to engage your lower core, and hold your legs up for at least 5 to 15 seconds. Then, gently lower your legs, without letting your feet touch the ground. Then, raise your legs again for another hold. 

Repeat for 5-15 times, 2 to 5 sets. 

Upper Body Exercises For Skiers

Although the legs and core do most of the work while skiing, there’s no doubt that your arms and shoulders do their own fair share as well. 

So, in order to make sure that your whole body is going to be in shape for the slopes, make sure to add these two simple exercises to your complete pre-season ski workout. 

8. Chest Press

Chest presses are great for targeting your pectorals, while also building strength in your shoulders and core. 

To perform a chest press, you’re going to need a set of dumbbells. 

Start by lying on your back either on the ground or on a bench with a weight in each hand. Then squeeze your chest muscles, bringing the weight up, directly over your shoulders. From here, slowly lower the weights back to your starting position, just slightly lower than your shoulder blades, and repeat. 

The key to the chest press is to make sure that you’re properly targeting your pectorals, shoulders, and triceps. 

So make sure to do your reps slowly, and aim for at least 2 to 4 sets of about 8 to 10 reps.

9. Pushups 

man performing push-ups on a training mat

Although pushups are a rudimentary exercise, they’re great for helping you get ready for ski season because they not only help you strengthen your arms and shoulders, but they’ll also help you tighten and tone your core and legs at the same time. 

Plus, there are many different variations of pushups, which can each be used to target different upper body muscles. 

For instance, a standard pushup will mainly target your bicep, tricep, and shoulder muscles. 

But if you perform a “triangle pushup”, while keeping your palms close together, making a triangle shape with your thumbs and forefingers, it’ll make your pushups significantly more challenging, while focusing the exercise on your pectoral muscles. 

Wrapping Up

Whether you're a teenager, adult or senior, you'll benefit greatly from working out your body at home. It doesn't have to take all day to be beneficial - as long as you continually try to push yourself, you'll progress.

Not only will these 9 ski exercises help you on the slopes, they'll improve your overall health, balance and core strength. This is something that we use in many aspects of our life and people who don't work out much tend to suffer from having a weak core which can lead to all kinds of pain and muscular imbalances.

Set aside just 30 minutes a few times a week and run through the above ski training program in front of the TV or while listening to some tunes or radio.

Nothing more to say. Get to it and you'll be rocking those all-mountain skis in no time feeling better than ever.

Christa Burkett

Christa Burkett

Christa is an avid skier who loves to explore the world. She has a particular love for speed and snow which she first found in her adulthood but since then she's made up for it by volunteering at ski resorts and learning from the best.
Published June 22, 2020
Last updated February 22, 2021
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