Work It Out: The post-Thanksgiving ski workout |

Work It Out: The post-Thanksgiving ski workout

A Bosu ball is a favorite gym tool for skiers and snowboarders. It can be used for dozens of exercises, including lunges, squats and lateral jumps.
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Every so often, people forget that skiing and snowboarding are active, unpredictable sports.

Just look at early-season injuries: When the snow falls, people pour onto the slopes and ski just as hard as they did in March. Then, the soreness sets in — at noon. Your body hasn’t done anything remotely similar to skiing in at least six months and your muscles are moaning in agony. Next thing you know, you’ve pulled a muscle or, even worse, blown out your knee before the best snow even arrives.

It’s an unfortunate reality for dozens and dozens of skiers in November and December. But it doesn’t have to be so.

“Training is best to avoid injuries,” said Doug Roessell, owner of Elevation Fitness in Dillon. “If you’re not working your muscles, if you come at it cold and you’re not in ski shape, then you’re just not in ski shape. It’s as simple as that. You run the risk of having something blow out and that will be the end of your season.”

To help with last-chance prep, he designed a four-week training program to bridge the gap between the first day of the season and the first true powder day around Christmastime. This winter, you’ll be ready.

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Spend 10-15 minutes on the bike, treadmill or elliptical at a moderate pace before any lifting or strength exercises.


Ball wall squats

A ball wall squat is a variation on a traditional squat. It works your glutes, quads and calves while building balance and stability — the cornerstones for any skier.

Place an exercise ball against a wall and lean into it with your back, facing away from the wall with your feet in squat position (slightly past shoulder length).

Perform a squat while rolling your back along the ball. Go until your knees are past 90 degrees.

Return to vertical and repeat. Rest 30 seconds between sets.

Alternates: Add a medicine ball or dumbbells for weight.

Set: 3 sets, 12-15 reps

Bosu ball step-overs

A Bosu ball (aka exercise ball cut in half) is a ski racer’s best friend. Unlike regular exercise balls, they’re made to be placed flat on the ground and incorporated into dozens of exercises: Lunges, lateral lunges, toe touches, even squats and push-ups. The ball adds an element of unpredictability to work small stabilizing muscles that often get overlooked.

Place the Bosu ball on a flat, open surface. Begin in an athletic stance (knees slightly bent, feet at shoulder distance) on the right side of the ball.

Facing forward, hop laterally (sideways) over the ball by leading with your left foot first. Stay low and controlled during the movement.

Hop laterally back over the ball by leading with your right foot.

Repeat for 15 reps on both sides. Rest 30 seconds between sets.

Alternates: Add weight with a medicine ball held at chest level.

Set: 3 sets, 12-15 reps

Prone leg curl

Knee injuries are understandably common for skiers, but sometimes the culprit isn’t what you expect. If one of your muscle groups is stronger than the others, it can cause imbalance injures.

“We tend to have strong quads but let our hamstrings go,” Roessell said. “Those are where knee injuries can come from.”

Prone leg curls are the best way to target and tone your hamstrings — and keep them that way. They’re tough to replicate outside of a gym, though, so don’t be afraid to get familiar with a machine.

Set the weight on a prone leg-curl machine to an appropriate level. Do a few practice reps to find the right weight.

Keeping your spine straight and eyes on the ground, curl with one leg in a smooth and controlled motion.

Repeat for 15 reps with both legs. Rest 30 seconds between sets.

Alternates: Increase the weight by 10-15 pounds between sets.

Set: 3 sets, 12-15 reps

One-footed calf raises

Ever lost feeling in your toes after a long day in ski boots? Tight calves might be the culprit. Calf raises are a simple way to tone and strengthen your calves without adding a ton of bulk.

Find a raised surface like a gym box, bench or even a curb. Balance on your toes with your heel hanging over the edge.

Place one foot behind your ankle so that all of your weight is on one leg. If needed, use a ski pole or similar equipment for balance.

Press up to the ceiling in a slow and controlled motion, bringing your heel high off the ground.

Drop slowly back to the starting position.

Repeat for 15 reps with both legs. Rest 30 seconds between sets.

Alternates: Add a medicine ball or dumbbells for weight.

Set: 3 sets, 12-15 reps

Machine circuit

Roessell is a believer in total-body fitness. Skiing and riding are heavy on leg strength, he says, but you still can’t ignore your upper body. He suggests a combination of four exercise machines to tone your chest, arms and core. They can be done as a traditional circuit (perform one set on each machine at a time) or as a modified circuit (finish all sets before moving to a new machine). The trainer in him prefers the later.

“My philosophy is that the blood is going through each muscle group, so we want to work that muscle group to it’s highest potential before moving to the next muscle group,” he said. His suggested exercises:

Chest press

Seated row

Shoulder press

Tricep pushdown

Set: 3 sets each, 12-15 reps


Like a cardio warm-up, Roessell encourages everyone to stretch after a workout — and even he admits it’s his least-favorite thing. Spend at least 5-10 minutes stretching every muscle group you worked, looking for a pull that’s like a light rubber band.

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