or Connect
EpicSki › First Run Articles › Exercises For Pre Season Ski Training

Exercises For Pre Season Ski Training

A recent thread asked the question, "What's the ONE thing you plan to focus on in your skiing this season?" There were lots of great answers, of course, but one response in particular, by SkiRacer55, gets down to the nitty-gritty for all of us skiers.  "Doing all my dry land so I can give myself the best chance of staying in one piece. There's always something to be working on in your skiing, but you can only do it if you're upright. In the last two years, in the Masters racing community I inhabit, we've had three deaths, several totally blown knees, and a bunch of other injuries that made the unhappy victim's summer consist of rehab instead of getting buffed for the next season."


Fact is, getting in shape before the first snows fall will help you ski harder earlier in the season and also can help you avoid a season-ending injury. Have a go at these tried-and-true exercises and add any others you think the community might enjoy!


Legs     |     Upper Torso     |     Core (Abs)     |     Aerobic Training     |     Other Resources




Pick your favorite 4 exercises and give about 1 min. between sets to build endurance


  • Classic Squats, 3 sets 12-15 reps - Determine what your single rep maximum is and try to complete the 12-15 reps at  50-60% of that number
  • 666 Squats (Hell Squats) - 6 sets of 6 reps taking 6 seconds to go down. Rest 1 second at the bottom, then take 6 seconds to lift back to straight legs - go LIGHT on weight!
  • Leg Press, 3 sets 12-15 reps - Alternate between seated leg presses vs. standing leg presses in different days
  • Lunges, 3 sets 12-15 reps
  • Calf Raises, 3 sets 10-12 reps


  • Wall Sit - Back flat against the wall, quads parallel to floor, knees at 90 degrees, arms folded across chest. Start with 1 minute and build up to 3
  • Box Jumps, 3 sets of 12 - The box should be slightly taller than the top of your knee caps. Jump up off of two feet and land on the ground on two feet.



Weak hamstrings can lead to ACL vulnerability

  • Leg Curls


  • Stiff Legged deadlifts (also can help with lower back strength)



Upper Torso

You don't need to lift hard and heavy, just enough to get some tone and increase flexibility. Take a look at those racers in their skin suits, you can see the rounded shoulders and biceps.


Using free weights or a resistance band, the following exercises will work your chest, arms, and shoulders.

Chest Fly (pectorals), Biceps Curl and Hammer Curl (biceps), Lateral Raises and Overhead Press (shoulders), Triceps Curls



Do Lateral Raises the Right Way:


  • Push-Ups

Max reps until feel a strong burn, 5 sets with a minute between each.





Core strength is key to balance and safety on the slopes

  • Plank

Assume a pushup position on the floor, but support your upper body on your forearms, keeping hips low and abs tight and your body as stiff as a board from head to toe. Hover in this position for as long as you can, going for longer and longer durations. To change it up, raise and lower each leg about 8"; raise opposite arm and leg and flex and extend while stabilizing with the core. 

  • Side plank

Turn sideways in a plank position so your weight is supported by one arm (either on the hand or the elbow) with the other arm is raised straight above the head. Hold for 30-60 seconds on each side. To change it up, lower the upraised arm so your hand is on your hip, and raise and lower your hips to the ground for 10 seconds each, switching sides after 8 reps. You also can lift the upper leg toward the ceiling in a side plank position, either stationary or with hip lifts, to add difficulty.  

  • Hanging crunch


  • Bicycles

Lie on the floor on your back with your legs lifted 45 degrees. Clasp your hands behind your head with elbows bent. Move your legs like you're pedaling a bicycle and alternately lift your shoulders to touch your left elbow to your right knee and your right elbow to your left knee. Focus on lifting your shoulders rather than raising your elbows to protect your neck. 


  • V-up twist


  • Superman


  • Decline push-ups


Aerobic Training

Got to have endurance to last all day and all season


  • Upright rows or erging - 6 to 8 sets of 40-50 reps
  • Eliptical Machine - 12 minutes intensely
  • Recumbent Bicycle - 12 minutes intensely
  • Intervals
  • Burpees



Other Resources


EpicSki isn't the only skiing resource online, just the best. What other sites, books, videos, etc. are helpful for you?

  • The library of Crossfit exercise videos.


Sample Crossfit exercise:

  • P90X



Comments (11)

I would like to see some ski-specific stretching exercises. As I get a bit older (I'm 61), stretching and flexibility are becoming more of a focus than the strength exercises I did in my twenties. The lower back area and hip flexors seem to require extra attention to stay supple and flexible. During ski season, I do a lot of quad stretching as well. A few minutes of stretching the quadriceps after a day on the slpoes helps to reduce soreness and stiffness the next day.
I'm and Bump skier from the 80's; In my opinion, and I have allot of them. I have had to rehab from tons of injuries, and I'm 49, the more I get massage, and deep tissue, and trigger point type therapies I realize they have been a greater advantage then just stretching. In addition, deep heat ultrasound, and range of motion work , very slow for hips mostly and sacroiliac joints. ie (tai Chi , hot yoga,, very slow, and less than the teacher,, allot less) this reduces stress at the hip, iliac, lumbars, utilize warm ups, and increase your warm ups as we get older.Also learn your anatomy specifically the deep muscles of the spine, and hips PSOAS muscles Very key trigger points.. hmm what else. the physiology behind this thought process,; as the muscle stretches , there is a trigger in the belly of the muscle that engages called "the golgi tendon organ) this organ send mechano-reception telling the muscle to tighten and strengthen ider to protect the joint from going into a stressful position. The joint may get a little looser, but the muscle can get tighter resulting in a situation that is too tight, over stretched over time. Decompression is also KEY! talk soon, all the best for this coming season!!
Anyone tried the insanity workout? I've been trying to get into it because of the core exercises, thinking it might be a good way to get ready for the season.
As an athlete all through high school and so far through high school, what I have found is that any for of athleticism gets the job done. Any sort of workout that is going to get you in condition, build muscle and improve mobility (i.e. any good workout) is all you need. So like the P90x (never done it, only seen it) would work great. Definitely gets you in condition, improves (mostly) bodyweight strength, really all you need when if comes to controlling yourself, and requires (not specifically improving) mobility. The only thing is, like drbumps was talking about, myofascial release (massage), invest in a foam roller. this should be used before and after every workout. I, as part of my football and track lifts, rollout before and after every lift and then in my free time hardcore stretch max 3 times a week. The improvement of flexibility will not come from stretching alone, it requires the improvement of muscle tissue, which is accomplished best through daily massage. Since NONE of us can afford this, thus the invention of the foam roller, DOES THE SAME THING. For people who have hip pain or knee pain use a tennis ball (once that is too soft use a lacrosse ball) and roll the hips (all around them). And as someone with bad arches in my feet, I roll out my feet with a lacrosse ball every morning and night plus after workouts and especially after a long day of skiing. In terms of what to do with a foam roller, the way I learned was just feeling what hurt on my body and figuring out a way to roll that out. You can obviously also look it up.
Back to the workout part. The only thing I found the need for in terms of working out and getting ready for ski season was adding wall sits. Whenever I can find a wide open run, I like to make downhill/super g style carve and really dig in and get aggressive. After a long day of doing this (and really is long. generally first group up and last man off and RARELY take a lunch break) I would find my quads to be the only thing that was sore. So I started doing wall sits to improve my static strength in that position and I found myself not only stronger down in those postions but more stable. I am now up to the lever of tucking on top of an exercise ball and holding that. This has greatly improved my stability and control when I get down there and none of the crud and variable snow has any surmountable impact.
summary: if you already have a good strength base, add in wall sits. AND FOAM ROLL (seriously, after a month you will never be sore)
The insanity workout is definitely legit and a great way to get ready for the season. You will want to supplement with some free weight exercises (squat, leg press, lunge w/ weights, etc.) to increase power and explosiveness, but insanity will completely cover your core and aerobic needs IMO.
P90x has 1 day of Plyo and 1 day of leg workouts per week which would relate directly to skiing. It's a great way to get in shape. P90X 2 is a lot more strength with balance exercises and it helps if you have gone through P90X first and built up great strength so you can really push yourself on X2. It seems like Insanity would be good for cardio and all around fitness as it has many similar in P90X.
Love the article, but I have one question. You recommend 3 set of 15 @ 60% of your one rep max, with only one minute rest in between sets. I feel that would be an incredibly taxing. You would probably need an incredibly strong base in your current strength and conditioning program to even attempt that. I would like to ask has anyone tried power lifting based programs like Mark Rippetoe's "Starting Strength" or Jim Wnedler's "5/3/1" as a conditioning program? Also I have found olympic style lifts, i.e. the power clean to be incredibly effective in increasing total body strength and explosiveness; the only catch is that they are the most difficult lifts to learn with-out proper coaching.
The 3 sets of 15 @ 60% of your 1RM was in reference to the classic squat, sorry for any confusion.
Three recommendations:
1. Chris Fellows' book Total Skiing has excellent material on ski-specific exercises, including some that involve balance.
2. Telemark! All this stuff you do in the gym strengthens the big muscles, but the little muscles get into play when you dynamically balance. In the early season when there's a lot more snow (natural or sprayed) on the blue runs than the blacks, tele'ing helps get you in shape and also poses a challenge if you're not an expert. Plus you look stylish and graceful. Normally I free heel about 1/2 the time, but in the first month I tele about 90%. I feel I'm ready when I can make continuous tele-turns down a run of 1000 feet or so, without my quads feeling on fire.
3. You do need the gym to work the hamstrings.
I started doing this workout a few weeks ago.  
...and don't forget about stretching.  If there's one thing that will keep you going strong as you age, it's stretching.  I'm a big fan of active stretching as demonstrated here:
(I'm not affiliated with "fitnessblender", just ran across it as good training resource.  )
I completely agree with the foam roller technique.  I've only been at it for a month and it's been highly effective.  (working to heal battered adductor muscles from years of abuse)  It hurts like heck, but believe it's worth it.  Same effect as trigger point or sports therapy massage.  1x per day.  1-2 minutes per muscle group.  No more.
For any level skier looking for a simple, but very effective, home or gym based, dry land skiing program I would look no further than the workouts offered on the CoreSkiing website.  Very effective at improving balance and strength on the slopes and you get a great core workout as well.  
EpicSki › First Run Articles › Exercises For Pre Season Ski Training