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It’s that time of year again. We’re just over a month away from the official start of what those of us with a passion for playing in the snow might consider the most wonderful of all four seasons. If you’re hoping to get a few more days of preparation training in before first tracks, there’s still plenty of time. Each exercise is chosen because it’s pertinent to a skill or type of strength you’ll need on the slopes, and the combinations make for a challenging workout.

Sample Workout and Instructions

Lift: Work up to three sets of five (3×5) pause back squats at 70-80% of your highest single or one rep max squat. The goal is for the last rep or two of each set to be challenging, but do-able. Complete a minimum of five warm-up sets at increasing weight. 1:00 rest between sets.

Accessory 1: Superset three sets of eight reps front rack lunges, (alternating, 16 total reps per set) with three sets of eight single leg kettlebell deadlifts on each side, (not alternating, 16 total reps per set). Do one set of eight alternating front rack lunges, then one set of alternating single leg kettlebell deadlifts, rest 1:00, rinse and repeat.

Accessory 2: Superset four rounds of 20 (4×20) lateral box jumps with one round of the 45-second plank series (see below).

Cardio Options: Three mile run, stop every half mile and complete 20 bodyweight squats OR three kilometers on a rowing machine, stop every kilometer and complete 20 bodyweight squats.

Editor’s note: each of these movements can be modified depending on your base level of fitness and the equipment you have available. Take a look at the “Notes and Modifications” section beneath each lift for modification ideas.

Pause Back Squat

Though we covered back squats in a previous ski season workout suggestion, they’re a universally valuable exercise and should be part of any lifting program designed to increase core stability, leg strength and power.

To recap, always start your back squat routine by warming up with an empty barbell after stretching, and then add weight as you’re comfortable doing so. To begin, you’ll need a barbell and a squat rack. Set the bar in the rack so sits at collarbone height or slightly lower. Duck under the barbell, position yourself so the barbell rests on your trapezius muscles, and tighten your back and abs. Stand up to remove the barbell from the squat rack, take one or two steps back, and position your feet shoulder-width apart with your toes turned slightly outward.

Take a deep breath in, look straight ahead, keep your weight in your heels and on the middle of your foot, and begin the movement by pushing your hips back as if you’re about to sit on a chair. Lower down until your hip crease passes below your knee, the sign of a squat below parallel, pause for two seconds, and breathe out as you stand as quickly and explosively as possible. The goal is to keep tension in your body through the entire movement. Don’t let your core relax at the bottom of the squat; you’ll have trouble standing up if you do. Click here for more information and here for a video of traditional squats, but don’t forget the pause at the bottom!

Pre-Ski Season Workout: Barbell Back Squats

Notes and Modifications: A Smith Machine will work perfectly if you don’t have a barbell and squat rack available. If you don’t feel comfortable adding weight, use an empty barbell or stick with bodyweight squats.

Front Rack Lunges with Bumper Plates

Traditional and weighted lunges are a great way to isolate one leg at a time, and to develop balance, but this variation on lunges gives your core a new set of variables to manage. To begin, you’ll need a barbell and a squat rack. Set the bar in the rack so sits at collarbone height, or slightly lower. Duck under the barbell and position the barbell so it’s resting on your shoulders. Keep your elbows up and pointed forward, and pinch your shoulder blades together to tighten your back.

Take a few big steps backward, then begin lunging, alternating legs. Don’t let your elbows drop or let your core loosen; you’ll feel your back start to round if you do. Be sure to let the knee of your back leg kiss the ground to complete the rep before you stand back up, and be sure the knee of your forward lunging leg doesn’t pass over your toes. For balance, I find it helpful to pick a spot in front of me to focus on. Click here for a video.

Pre-Ski Season Workout: Front Rack Lunges with Barbell

Notes and Modifications: If you don’t have a barbell and bumper plats available, use dumbbells or kettlebells. Choose a weight that will challenge you, i.e. the last few reps of each set make your quads burn! If you want an extra core challenge, do them as walking lunges.

Single Leg Deadlifts

If you’re a skier, you know how important it is to be able to balance on one leg and to correct that balance if something goes wrong. Traditional deadlifts are great for back and core stability as well as hamstring strength, which are all important for skiing, but single leg deadlifts add an entirely new variable to the mix – balance.

In this case, we’re going with a single leg deadlift variation that calls for a kettlebell in each hand. Stand on one leg, and with that leg slightly bent, perform a deadlift by hinging at the hip and extending the raised leg behind you for balance. Continue lowering the kettlebells until your body is parallel to the ground. Keep your back flat. Stand up, bring the raised leg to meet your other leg, then immediately go back down for another rep. Choose a weight that’s challenging, but that won’t result in your back rounding. Click here for a video.

Pre-Ski Season Workout: Single Leg Deadlift

Notes and Modifications: You can complete these with dumbbells or a medicine ball as well. For an added challenge, ditch one of the kettlebells and keep the remaining kettlebell in the same hand as the leg you have planted on the floor. Try not to twist your body at all while you’re lowering or standing up; keep your hips and shoulders square. Click here for a video.

Lateral Box Jumps

Short of actually practicing turns on the slopes, there aren’t too many exercises that’ll get you thinking about moving laterally with power like lateral box jumps will. Start with a box or flat, raised surface you can jump on to comfortably. Stand on one side of the box facing forward. Keep your feet hip width apart, bend at the knee, face forward, and jump on top of the box. Gain control, jump or step down, and set up for the jump in the opposite lateral direction. If you’re feeling brave, make the jumps fluid by bounding off the top of the box, then rebounding off the floor on the other side, like this.

Pre-Ski Season Workout: Lateral Box Jumps (3)

Pre-Ski Season Workout: Lateral Box Jumps (1)

Pre-Ski Season Workout: Lateral Box Jumps (2)

Notes and modification: Chose a box height that’s appropriate for you. The box in the photos is 20 inches tall, and if you’re not comfortable with that, start with a shorter box. We’ve used stacks of bumper plates at CrossFit Love to slowly increase the height of box jumps, beginning from the floor, and I’ve found that helpful.

Plank Series

During training for the 2014 CrossFit Games Mid-Atlantic Regionals last summer, my teammates and I worked with a gymnastics coach to develop handstand walking and other skills we’d be tested on in competition. As part of that training, we used a plank series to develop core strength that I’ve found both challenging and extremely helpful.

Begin in a plank position on your elbows, and proceed as follows:

  • Plank position, five second hold
  • Reach your right arm forward, five second hold
  • Back to plank position, five second hold
  • Move to a side plank, five second hold
  • Back to plank position, five second hold
  • Lift one leg up, five second hold
  • Back to plank position, five second hold
  • Reach one arm under and across your body, five second hold
  • Back to plank position, five second hold

Be sure to do the series in rounds of two to get the side, leg lift, and one arm reach positions complete on both sides.

Pre-Ski Season Workout: Plank Series - Plank

Plank Series - Arm Forward

Plank Series - Side Plank

Plank Series - Arm Reach Around

Any exercise you read about on this site are to be attempted at your own risk. It’s always a good idea to perform weightlifting movements with a partner and/or spotter. Any action taken based on the contents of this website is to be used solely at your own discretion, risk and liability. Always consult appropriate health professionals before proceeding with any action related to your health and exercise regimes While the information provided in this article is believed to be accurate, the author assumes no liability for the use or misuse of information.

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