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Strength & Athleticism & Skiing

post #1 of 79
Thread Starter 
Quote:
With regards to strength, there is a common myth that one needs strong quads for skiing. It is possible to competently ski expert runs without "strength". What we instructors see a lot of is people applying muscular strength to overcome inefficient skiing technique. For a lot of people, a little improvement in technique is a lot more effective than a lot of time in the gym.
Rusty posted this in his "How much would you pay..." thread and I thought it deserved its own topic. What do you think: is improvement in technique going to pay off more in your skiing than hours of gym time?
post #2 of 79
Hehe. A lot of my bad habits stem from a belief that I should be using the strength I worked so hard to acquire.
post #3 of 79
It's not quad strength, but muscular balance between the quads and hamstrings. If someone has over trained their quads at the expense of causing a significant muscular imbalance, their technique might suffer despite the best instructor or boot fitter.

That being said, the first serious injury I've ever had in my life occured this year, when my ski technique was at its highest, yet my fitness level was at its lowest. People need to strike a balance.
post #4 of 79
Quote:
Originally Posted by nolo
Rusty posted this in his "How much would you pay..." thread and I thought it deserved its own topic. What do you think: is improvement in technique going to pay off more in your skiing than hours of gym time?
I agree fully that strength is less important to technique, because strength is only useful in the application of good technique, and can be counterproductive if it is applied in lieu of correct technique.

However, I think it aldo depends on how one defines "gym time". Simple weight lifting training to improve strength, I think, is pretty useless until the higher levels of any sport. However, training to improve overall balance, agility, and reaction time will greatly aid in how well one can adopt to correct technique. So if your definition of "gym time" extends to such ancillary activities such as roller blading, trail running, gymnastics, and all over activities that work on balance and agility, then I think it is highly beneficial to skiing.
post #5 of 79
Quote:
Originally Posted by josseph
I agree fully that strength is less important to technique, because strength is only useful in the application of good technique, and can be counterproductive if it is applied in lieu of correct technique.

However, I think it aldo depends on how one defines "gym time". Simple weight lifting training to improve strength, I think, is pretty useless until the higher levels of any sport. However, training to improve overall balance, agility, and reaction time will greatly aid in how well one can adopt to correct technique. So if your definition of "gym time" extends to such ancillary activities such as roller blading, trail running, gymnastics, and all over activities that work on balance and agility, then I think it is highly beneficial to skiing.
Right on!
post #6 of 79
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lisamarie
Right on!
Somebody finally agrees with what I have to say!

Right on back to you, Lisamarie!
post #7 of 79
I do strength training all year round, mostly for triathalons or marathons. I credit strength training with improving my skiing performance, particularly with core stability, and keeping me healthy.

Quote:
Hehe. A lot of my bad habits stem from a belief that I should be using the strength I worked so hard to acquire.
Strength training will not improve the efficency of movements. It won't change a movement pattern. I certainly have been gulity of muscling a move on snow.

You can always dial down the intensity of a move, but its nice to know you have the power if you need it.
post #8 of 79
Quote:
Originally Posted by josseph
I agree fully that strength is less important to technique, because strength is only useful in the application of good technique, and can be counterproductive if it is applied in lieu of correct technique.

However, I think it aldo depends on how one defines "gym time". Simple weight lifting training to improve strength, I think, is pretty useless until the higher levels of any sport. However, training to improve overall balance, agility, and reaction time will greatly aid in how well one can adopt to correct technique. So if your definition of "gym time" extends to such ancillary activities such as roller blading, trail running, gymnastics, and all over activities that work on balance and agility, then I think it is highly beneficial to skiing.
Totally agree. One must balance strength acquisition with agility. A short story:

A few years ago, I had been doing 20 rep squats in the gym with my bodyweight on the bar. Stationary bicycling @ 80 RPM was the other mainstay exercise. As I grew in strength, my foot speed slowed more and more. Skating while playing hockey suffered a great deal -- the explosive power was there, just the foot speed was not.

Anyhow, upped the RPMs to 100 and the problem went away.....
post #9 of 79
Quote:
Originally Posted by BigE
T
A few years ago, I had been doing 20 rep squats in the gym with my bodyweight on the bar. Stationary bicycling @ 80 RPM was the other mainstay exercise. As I grew in strength, my foot speed slowed more and more. Skating while playing hockey suffered a great deal -- the explosive power was there, just the foot speed was not.

Anyhow, upped the RPMs to 100 and the problem went away.....
Last summer I biked exclusively as my exercise. Put over 6000km in the saddle. I was chargrined at how klutzy I became in the moguls. Slow feet, no balance, etc. This summer I drastically curtailed my cycling, and I started playing soccer once a week, and tennis another once per week. Though I am nowhere in the same aerobic shape I was in last summer, I am feeling much more agile... and unbelievably, better overall sense of fitness.
post #10 of 79

12 oz curls are good for out of shape skiers

My point was that most people don't need to work out to be able to ski all day or at an expert level. Most of the people that quit early because they are tired would be better served by an hour in a lesson than an hour in the gym/treadmill/rollerblade/12 oz curls. How many of us on the slopes have heard the comment "I need to get to the gym...." from people that otherwise look like relatively healthy humans?

I will concede that if you want to go fast, especially in the bumps, you must have some relative muscle strength. I will also concede that core strength (e.g. abdominals) and balance makes skiing easier. To the extent that you have such strength and balance, you are more capable to perform efficient skiing maneuvers and can perform them at higher intensities.

Is it possible to ski efficient parallel turns down an average black run at an average resort under average snow conditions with an "average" amount of muscle strength and balance? I say yes as long as you match your intensity to your level of fitness, with one caveat. It's possible, but not very likely. But that would be a different topic.

Meanwhile, we've only heard one voice (so far) in support of fitness being a REQUIREMENT for expert skiing (in the original thread).
post #11 of 79
I agree with the consensus that strength is not a replacement for proper technique. That being said, once proper technique is ingrained strength becomes more important.
post #12 of 79
Slow feet could mean just that your cadence was too low. The tennis/soccer for sure is helping you maintain agility core strength and dynamic balance. Balance on a road bike is quite static, and does nothing much for the core....

I found that direct core work on a fitball to be the best thing -- that will improve both tennis and soccer. I guarantee it.
post #13 of 79
Power is nothing without control.

A certain amount of strength is needed yes, but too much strength is often used as a crutch instead of good technique. Unless your technique is very very good, working out will do you little good. Of course if you find youself unable to stand up in the compressions a little weight training might be in order.
post #14 of 79
agreed with all of the below. but I would add that as age mounts, and general corporal strength declines, strength training can become a necessity just to avoid injury or re-injury... that's the flip side of being Young and Bulky, being old and brittle and having a problem with too little strength rather than too much which would require the strength rheostat Jess refers to below.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jess
I do strength training all year round, mostly for triathalons or marathons. I credit strength training with improving my skiing performance, particularly with core stability, and keeping me healthy.

Strength training will not improve the efficency of movements. It won't change a movement pattern. I certainly have been gulity of muscling a move on snow.

You can always dial down the intensity of a move, but its nice to know you have the power if you need it.
post #15 of 79
Thread Starter 
I think to be a good skier a person has to be reasonably fit, not a body builder. You don't have to work out to be fit either--some of us have lives that provide plenty of exercise in the pursuit of our daily bread and or happiness.

Power is just part of the picture, as Ghost said. Technique and strength are elements of Power.
post #16 of 79
In the begining, strength is of little importance, a minor issue.

At the upper end of the spectrum it becomes an issue. Balanced strength and endurance .... not the steroid bulked out brand of "strength".

As discussed, at our area we have many Pakistani individuals come for lessons many, lack strength to a degree that they can't even lift a foot when the ski is attached to the boot. At this (extreme) "tail" of the "standard normal curve", success will not be "a happening thing". There has been endless locker room discussion regarding this "phenomena"; dietary or lack of a base athletic "tradition" .... etc.

Nightmare #2, is facing a group from the "Golds Gym" school of conditioning. Just as many will end up on their backs.
post #17 of 79
At normal recreational levels of skiing, being fit is not necessary. Of course, the more fit you are, the easier the sport will be - but having powerful quads and abdominal muscles that resemble a washboard are not necessary for the everyday skier. Once a skier is at a certain (usually quite high) level in their ability, strength at that point will enhance their ability, since they will have all of the right movements to use their strength properly (using your skeleton to ski versus muscle... etc). I did not work out for skiing until just a few seasons ago. Last december i was squatting close to twice my body weight and benching about 20 to 30 pounds over my body weight. I also did a lot of balance excercises so that i wouldnt lose my balance, and knew how to move with the strength i had developed. As it translated to my skiing, i didnt get tired, i could man-handle my equipement on any terrain, and i could easily power out of a turn where my legs in the past were not strong enough to hold myself in.

Now, to relate that to a "normal" skiers life. My father, was/is a very active person for his age. In his late 30's he was diagnosed with diabetes. At this time he obviously had to control his diet much more. After about a year of this he had lost about 20 pounds (diabetes when not treated apparently can cause weight gain). He was amazed at how much easier it was for him to ski after he lost the weight. Over the next few seasons his skiing improved greatly... not 100% from the weight loss, but it was one factor that facilitated his improvement.

I really don't think that weight training or legs that resemble tree trunks is necessary to be an expert skier. I can ski when I am out of shape and perform everything that i normally can on snow - but i just cant do it with the same amount of power that i can when im in my best physical shape. If you really want to take your skiing to the next level, lessons are the place to start. From there if you really want to push yourself and stay in shape for the next season balance and cardio excercise is the way to go. Weight training should be reserved for last, and then combined with the above training methods. My cardio workout is running stadium/arena stairs... sometimes i will randomly skip stairs going up and down to make sure that i am working on balance and my quickness, which comes in handy when skiing trees and slalom courses.

Later

GREG
post #18 of 79
I'm a 48 year old recreational racer that lives over 3 hours from the snow, with appallingly high goals for annual improvement despite (in a good year) just over 20 ski days on the hill.

Which puts me in an unusual category of recreational skiers, since (1) the fitness demands of racing are higher than most recreational skiing, and (2) I train hard (strength, power, core, agility, balance) as a compensating factor so that I'm in better shape (and concentrating on things I think have the best cross-over to skiing, including balance challenges while weight lifting) than the guys I race against.

I find that strength doesn't decline much after an end of season break, and neither does balance. But the anaerobic capacity/explosiveness/foot speed challenges of high repetition jumping exercises (especially with a modest balance challenge like clearing a high obstacle repeatedly in lateral jumps) go straight to hell. And neither fencing nor tennis as an off season exercise seem to prevent that decline because they're just not hard enough.

IMHO, this contributes to getting faster than my rivals every year, improving faster than the other guys I ski against. Being more fit means you can demand more of your body on the hill, and better translate that abstract knowledge (must get shoulders forward) into practice.

SfDean

(Working steadily on perfecting the helmet clear, with and without a helmet, since 1958...)
post #19 of 79
SfDean - Have you tried racquetball?
post #20 of 79
Yuki,

I was wondering when someone would mention the "no bones" line of humanity (i.e. people that can not stand up on skis because their muscles have no bones to support themselves - it's a joke people). My comment about strength was based on "average". If one has below average strength or balance to the extent that they cannot manipulate the extra weight of the equipment or maintain any balance while sliding at any speed, then they obviously can not ski efficiently.

Bless me Barking Bears, for I have sinned. I call Christmas day at my resort "UN day". It's bad. I should not do it. But it is so true. On Christmas, we typically get a much higher than usual proportion of ethnic populations (e.g. East and West Asia) and a much higher portion of fitness challenged individuals. It's usually a very long day. Every smile earned on xmas is golden.
post #21 of 79

statistics

therusty, that's why I caged it under the "standard normal curve" and there is a population that is at the far end of the "tail" of the curve.

Nolo was (I believe), looking at the "average" Joe/Jane regarding strength and the anticipated rate of success. Nolo uses the term "reasonably fit".

Skiing time gets my vote. A strong technical foundation followed by building miles on the snow will get you around and where you want to be.

What kills my eyes (can't watch!) ... is a muscle bound jock and company who are gonna "conquer" that black diamond. The "power wedge" with lots of "body english" ..... not a pretty sight!
post #22 of 79
A good big man will always beat a good little man. I think strength will make good better, but it's no substitute for technique.

I used strength all my life in skiing, as I had a lot of it, but when I hit my mid 30s, I felt the muscle letting me down for the first time, and so got lessons! Also, the strength didn't allow me to ski deep snow and bumps at all.

Strength + Technique = Best. But a person with technique will beat a person with just strength.
post #23 of 79
I'm a 53 year old woman and a pretty good skier. I've been skiing since the winter of 1971-72.

I don't ever "work out". My current job is fairly physical, but my previous job involved sitting around all day long. I like to hike, but don't get a lot of opportunity.

In spite of this, it's been close to 20 years since I had any "morning after" muscle issues after the first day of skiing. I can usually do 20,000 vertical feet the first day out, and closer to 35,000 or 40,000 later in the season. Since I ski a pretty long season (averaged 65 days the last two years), I am in "peak" condition (for me) by the end of the season. This seems to be enough to carry thru the summer without any real issues. Naturally, I do better as the season moves along -- I ski tougher terrain and longer days -- but this is as much mental as physical. I really feel that once you are a good skier you really don't need as much stamina or muscle as back when you spent all day long trying to stand up after a fall. You rely more on your knowledge of how to use the ski than on sheer muscle.

I think as you edge off of groomed terrain into trees, moguls, chutes, back country, you start to need some muscle again but that's more due to the lack of ability to make nice arcing turns all the way down the hill more than anything else. Suddenly THINGS are IN THE WAY which require fast responses, sudden radical manuevers, etc. I need to say, however, that my brother, who is NOT a lightweight or even a "middleweight" looks better in bumps than I do because his technique is better than mine. He's huge and certainly not buff, but he has the "touch".

Anyway, this pretty much reiterates that technique counts for more than fitness.
post #24 of 79
Quote:
Originally Posted by nolo
is improvement in technique going to pay off more in your skiing than hours of gym time?
Added strength with no improvement in technique only allows one to become more proficient at skiing badly.
post #25 of 79
Quote:
Originally Posted by josseph
Last summer I biked exclusively as my exercise. Put over 6000km in the saddle. I was chargrined at how klutzy I became in the moguls. Slow feet, no balance, etc. This summer I drastically curtailed my cycling, and I started playing soccer once a week, and tennis another once per week. Though I am nowhere in the same aerobic shape I was in last summer, I am feeling much more agile... and unbelievably, better overall sense of fitness.
Would that I had spent less time cycling in summers past and more time on strengthening my core and improving balance with stuff like Pilates, agility drills, and plyometrics. Cycling is great for my aerobic fitness and has helped me almost keep up on backcountry skin slogs with hardcore younger skiers (I'm 52), but the bumps are something else.

My experience has been that once I reached a certain level of technical competence, the dominant factor, by far, in determining whether I would feel like I had become a better skier over the course of the season was core strength. It didn't/doesn't matter whether that strength comes as a result of skiing every day or as a result of a pre-season ski-specific exercise program (but in those years when I don't have the time or money for a season pass, it's a no-brainer).

And it more than just being stronger. It's also the knowledge and the confidence that I gain from knowing that I am prepared.

Progress in skiing, for me, is like following one of those small rivers that disappear temporarily underground now and then, only to resurface a little later downstream. It's a lot easier for me to locate the next stretch of running water -- that sustaining peak experience, even if it's just one joyous run -- when I know that I'm prepared to enjoy it.
post #26 of 79
I'd pick strength and athleticism in the beginner range [enables the acquisition of the whole skill set] and the expert range [technique is limited by practical ability to apply it at the high end]. At the mid range likely you are working against suboptimal levels in both areas and IMO it is much quicker [excluding travel time] to actively learn efficiency than develop an equally significant change in strength.
post #27 of 79
Well I got this whole thing started on the other thread when I stated that no amount of instruction can substitute for leg strength. I've read people's responses to their assumptions of what I meant. I just spent a huge amount of time trying to explain what I meant by it, only to have an "invalid thread" (huh?) message come up and my post was gone.

I'll try one more time. What I have experienced with myself is that, as my strength increased due to skiing (not weight training), applying technique became easier, this was due to the fact that the muscular requirements of the technique I sought to apply were met with less exertion, due to both more muscle mass and more efficient application of technique. I don't believe instruction can compensate for a lack of the muscle strength required to apply technique, and I don't believe it takes massive strength to apply it, but well conditioned muscles are more efficient than poorly conditioned ones. Further, I believe in the practice of technique, the legs become stronger, and that on slope conditioning and technique can fuse to achieve higher levels of proficiency.

I never said that one must have huge muscles to ski well, but I was mocked as if I had said this. I never suggested that any weight training was needed, but a refutation of the neccessity of weight training was brought to bear in response to me. Rather than seeking to understand me, energy was wasted seeking to disprove them. Nothing anyone wrote convinced me that what I was trying to convey was wrong.

I never suggested that muscular strength was an efficient substitute for technique, or that proper technique can't reduce the effort needed to ski well, but I certainly believe that combined they lead to higher levels of capability.
post #28 of 79
Quote:
Originally Posted by ant
A good big man will always beat a good little man. I think strength will make good better, but it's no substitute for technique.

...

Strength + Technique = Best. But a person with technique will beat a person with just strength.
My experience has been that a beginning levels, high strength can be detrimental to learning good technique, i.e., a beginner with high strength can "force" the skis to turn, a learner without that strength advantage must learn proper technique to make the turn happen. Result, the second learner gets better, faster, at least at lower levels.

(probably NOT an absolute truth)
post #29 of 79
What you did say was:
Quote:
Originally Posted by volantaddict
I also think that all the instruction in the world doesn't compensate for leg strength. Many people never ski enough days in a year to develope the musculature neccessary to truely apply the techniques they have already been taught, or have a sense of.
Now that we have a clearer idea of what you meant, we are all pretty much in agreement. It was the "many people" and "musculature neccessary" that threw us off on our rants. But the reason it struck such a strong response is that the "strength is a necessity" concept is a common myth. I hear it a lot.
post #30 of 79
My default reaction whenever I hear someone say that they could ski better or longer if they were stronger is that they have inefficent technique. Anyone who can stand and walk around for and hour or two can spend a day skiing at a recreational level. I have no scientific evidence for this statement but I have 20 years of anticdotical (sp) evidence to back it up. I've turned too many half day skiers into full day skiers with just one lesson to believe that strength has a whole lot to do with it. I've seen too many big men (and I mean really big) who were having trouble with groomed blues and easy blacks graduate to skiing bumps and non-groomed black terrain over a few days to think that increases in strength had anything to do with it.

If you can stand on your feet I can teach you to ski.

yd
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