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Weak quads! Any suggestions?

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 

Hi everyone,

 

I am an advanced beginner (can do turns with parallel skis, just now learning about weight transfer to carve turns). The first 3-4 times I went on ski trips, my quads would tire easily. After only 1-2 runs, I can never make it down a single run without stopping to rest my legs SEVERAL times. Granted, my legs are not in great shape, and I did not train much for those trips.

 

I just got back from a trip to Whistler, and for about 2 months before, I did some daily work trying to upgrade my leg stamina (wall sits - worked up to 20 minutes, squats and lateral squats on a Bosu, and static squats on a Bosu - up to 20 minutes). I got on the slopes at Whistler, and my legs felt as if I never did any training! I was tired very quickly, just like before. Granted, my training regimen was not very long or very intense, but it was way more than I have done before, so I would have expected SOME improvement.

 

On the other hand, my fiancee doesn't exercise hardly at all, but never has tired or sore legs when skiing. That's frustrating to me. Granted, she learned to ski when she was a child (I started when I was 30, and I'm 32 now). So, I'm sure my technique also has a lot to do with it.

 

Do some people just never get the leg stamina without a really intense training program? I only ski 2-3 times a year, so it's hard to motivate myself to train only for the purpose of skiing for many months on end. I'm sure a cross-training program would help. Any suggestions for efficient ways to increase leg stamina? I was thinking about doing some mountain biking and strenuous hiking as part of my cross-training. Any particular indoor exercises you would suggest?

post #2 of 18

Most likely the issue is not weak quads, but one of stance/boot alignment.  The combination of the forward lean angle of your boots and the delta angle of your bindings (the heel is higher than the toe) are putting you into position where you cannot stand up and let your bones support your mass.  Instead your muscles are doing the majority of the work even when you're just standing still.

 

My sister-in-law recently had the same issue (she's a beginner/intermediate).  She bought new boots, went skiing without me, and could only do 2 runs in 3 hours and her quads were shot.  I got the shop to exchange her boots for something with a better fit and much less forward lean so that she could actually stand up when wearing her boots.  We did 16 runs at Loveland Sunday (around 20K vertical feet) and although she sure was tired, her quads made it through the day just fine.

post #3 of 18


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by muah View Post

 

Hi everyone,

 

I am an advanced beginner (can do turns with parallel skis, just now learning about weight transfer to carve turns).

 

 

Snowplowing is very hard on the legs.      Take some lessons.   Preferably, high end ski lessons.

post #4 of 18

http://www.amazon.com/All-Mountain-Skier-Way-Expert-Skiing/dp/007140841X -- Chapter 1, Stance; and maybe Chapter 13, Alignment.  Or maybe not.  But definitely, Chapter 1.  And the rest of it couldn't hurt. 

 

Ride bikes, take lessons, but take the lessons with the stance concepts in mind.  Specifically, standing tall and forward on your skis so you're working big muscles less, and  "stacking up" your weight through your skeleton.

 

post #5 of 18

Get together with a qualified pro ski instructor or coach.  There are issues in your stance that can cause a great deal of fatigue in the legs, and the most common is being in the back-seat.  An instructor can identify this issue quickly and give you drills and exercises to improve your skiing stance and help you to "stack the bones" to ski more efficiently.  The problem can come from boot alignment, but is usually just technique.  Once you are in balance, skiing is not necessarily strenuous on the quads, but that is a strong message that you are behind, rather than down the hill in your skiing.

 

Many skiers reach the point in their skiing that you describe, and do not advance to the next level.  This is a very important time in your skiing to seek out qualified help rather than rely entirely on your intuition or feedback from friends.

post #6 of 18

Cirque - I have to disagree with your assertion that this is more likely a technique issue than a boot stance issue.  I just went through this with my sister-in-law and the boot manufacturers still don't have a clue about reducing the forward lean on their models.  The amount of forward lean on most boots is ridiculous - especially for beginners/intermediates.  Yes, it's very possible that this could be from skiing in the backseat, but I'll bet this is a stance issue.

 

muah - would it be a problem to get a picture of you from the side while in your boots, clicked into your skis, on a very flat hard floor?

post #7 of 18
Thread Starter 

Just as an update, I just got custom-fitted boots from one of the EpicSki master fitters, so I think I'm in good shape with those.

 

I do agree that it is likely my technique. I am still fighting the need to let my body "fall" down the mountain, and I expend a lot of energy doing this. I have taken a lesson every time I have gone skiing (all 5 of my ski trips), and I usually pick up one new thing every time. I guess it will just take time and more lessons.

 

Even so, are there any exercise suggestions that will help me until my technique improves?

post #8 of 18

Agree that a common cause of quad burn is riding in the backseat. Some generic pointers to help "get forward":

* Knees bent, pressuring tongue of boot

* Head/shoulders facing downhill

* Elbows ahead of spine

* Hands forward and low

 

Regarding quad strengthening...try the skier's squat. Back flat against wall, thighs straight out (horizontal), shins straight down (vertical). Hold it as long as you can.

post #9 of 18

muah - a "custom" fit boot does not necessarily mean you have had your stance alignment checked.  In fact most boot fitters do not check your overall stance alignment.  If they didn't look at you from the side while clicked into your skis then your stance has not been checked for fore/aft balance.

post #10 of 18

muah, most of your exercises are somewhat isokinetic.  A lot of members have had good luck adding in bicycle spinning and elliptical training to focus on core strength as well as the legs.  No need to really crank up the resistance.  Keep it aerobic and it should help. The exercises you described in the OP do strenghen the quads, but remember leg strength in skiing must be distributed to the hamstrings and glutes as well for good balance  and endurance.  Boy, this is really outside my expertise, and I won't take it personally when someone says I'm full of it here.  It has worked for me.

 

And I totally get Noodler's point.  Many bindings like the Rossi Axiels have a lot of delta angle on them, and if your boots also have a lot of forward lean, or you have a muscular large calf, it can put you in the wrong place.  Sometimes as easy as removing the boot spoiler, other times you can play with shims and see if it helps to lift the toes or heel.

post #11 of 18

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cirquerider View Post

 

muah, most of your exercises are somewhat isokinetic.  A lot of members have had good luck adding in bicycle spinning and elliptical training to focus on core strength as well as the legs.  No need to really crank up the resistance.  Keep it aerobic and it should help. The exercises you described in the OP do strengthen the quads, but remember leg strength in skiing must be distributed to the hamstrings and glutes as well for good balance  and endurance.  Boy, this is really outside my expertise, and I won't take it personally when someone says I'm full of it here.  It has worked for me.

 

Cirque is right that your exercises are focused, and skiing requires lots of muscles working together simultaneously. Bike work and ellipticals will help you immensely aerobically, but a little less anaerobically than you'd like if you only have 2 months to prepare for a couple days of skiing. Try some plyometric exercises at home. They'll need little or no equipment, and because these use short bursts of energy using your own body weight (a little more similarly to the motion of skiing than pure biking or elliptical work), you'll build up both anaerobic and aerobic stamina relatively quickly. I say relatively with a HUGE caveat, because one must remember that it takes time to build up your muscle mass, but once you have it, it takes longer to lose it.

 

Here are some for you to try:

-Squat Jumps

-Box Jumps

-Lateral Box Jumps

-Lateral Box Push-Offs

-Tuck Jumps

-Bounding

-Lateral Hurdle Jumps

-Single Leg Tuck Jumps

-Single Leg Lateral Hops

-Zig-Zag Hops

-Depth Jumps, and my favorite,

-Split Squat Jumps

 

Split squats are just fantastic, especially if you'd ever be interested in tele-skiing, as you jump up as high as possible and land in the split squat position, which is the tele position. Once you get good at these you'll look like a superhero landing and about to kick some butt !

 

For some extra killer boost, do all of these exercises using the Tabata protocol. Pick one of the exercises and do 6 to 8 -20-second sets at 100%, resting for 10-second between each set. It's really hard, so if you are struggling with the 2:1 ratio, try a 2:2 or 2:3 (work 20 seconds, rest 20, or work 20, rest 30, etc), until you work your way down to 2:1.

 

Post back here if you have more questions, but done correctly, plyometrics will give you both an anaerobic and aerobic burn without expensive machines or an expensive gym, and if you stick to a good regimen, may be able to get you back into shape more quickly.

 

As an added bonus, remember that pretty recent research has shown that for the average person looking to get in better shape, sprint training (which plyometric training is similar to) can be just as beneficial to your pulmonary and vascular system as endurance training (biking and ellipticals), with the added bonus that sprint training will work you anaerobically as well. Best bet? As always, do a mix of biking or elliptical and plyometrics, and throw in some good core exercises, push ups, pull-ups, and a few of your own favorite upper-boddy exercises. Hope that helps!

post #12 of 18

Get a bike. Ride it every weekday. Ski on weekends.

post #13 of 18

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cyclist View Post

 

Get a bike. Ride it every weekday. Ski on weekends.

 

Quoted for truth.      

 

Runners don't get quads.  Cyclists get quads.

 

And there is no reason one can't do intervals on a bike.

post #14 of 18

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by comprex View Post

 

 

 

Quoted for truth.      

 

Runners don't get quads.  Cyclists get quads.

 

Sprinters do, too!  Hence the plyometrics.

 

Cyclist and comprex are 100% correct–do intervals on a bike. I myself much prefer biking anyway. Running is too slow, but with biking I can actually go visit my parents in a day by doing a NYC-Philly century! 

 

One more off-season sport to add: speed-skating. Have you seen the size of Apolo Ohno's legs? Bigger than my head. Get yourself a pair of speed roller skates (the ones with BIG wheels) and skate the summer away.


Edited by reducedfatoreo - 3/4/2009 at 08:46 pm
post #15 of 18

I agree, get a bike!  I bring my bike in and set it up on a wind trainer, pop in the ipod and off I go.   I try to do 15 to 45 minutes daily.  No burning quad any more.

 

Sue

post #16 of 18

When I first started skiing (way back in 2007), my quads would be killing me after one day of skiing -- and this was on green slopes.   Three weeks ago, I skied all weekend on black diamonds (OK, mid-Atlantic blacks) and I barely noticed my quads at the end of each day.   What has changed?

 

1.  I've added squats and more (and more varied) core exercises to my routine.  I also run and bike, but was doing so pre-2007 too.

 

2.  My skiing technique has changed:  I don't put the brakes on every turn, or every other turn.  I think the quads participate in braking, and now that I'm doing it less, I'm using the quads less too.

post #17 of 18

Last year if I skied 3 days in a row my entire body hurt, especially my legs.  And forget doing a full bump run without intense burn.  Last summer I really got intense about cycling, strength and swimming then added running in the fall (taking off around 40lbs).  I just finished an 8 day trip, skiing 7 of them and in the end the only thing that bothered me was a *slightly* achy knee after the last day.  No burn, no soreness in the mornings.  And I did far more bumps than I've ever done by choice this past week.  

post #18 of 18

Everything they said and...

 

Here's a way to see if it is technique or muscle.  Have a competition with your fiance.  Do the wall sits together and see who can hold it the longest. 

 

Then after you win, slide your heel to the wall and bend your knee as much as you can sliding your butt down the wall.  I bet you'll be able to stay there for a long time.

 

That's the position you want to be (give or take some) in while skiing.  Butt needs to be in line with or in front of your heels.

 

If your quads start burning while skiing, pull your feet back under you.  You'll last all day.

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