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Home workout routines (pre-season and in-season ski fitness)

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(@therealmrtall)
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I'm curious what all of you do for ski-related fitness routines, but mostly what routine you follow at home. I used to attend a 1-hour full-body HIIT class (focused on endurance, strength and power) 3-4 times per week before the pandemic, which has been reduced to zero times per week. Now that I am working from home full time, I'd like to get into the habit of carving out a dedicated fitness block to get some fitness training done to break up the day.

What do you do for pre-season and in-season ski fitness?


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(@adrian_hamilton)
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As our season, i.e. our trips to ski resorts, is actually short and sporadic, I tend not to work with true periodisation. Around the end of the Northern Hemisphere snow season, however, I will have a couple of weeks when I do very little exercise.

Then some time around early May I will go back to some basics of form in the work I do. I will work with little or no resistance in my strength sessions, work more slowly in my agility sessions and incorporate a little bit more aerobic exercise. I want to reprogramme correct movements which massively reduces the potential for injury but also allows adaptation of connective tissue which similarly impacts on injury. This then builds gradually over maybe a month to 6 weeks until I am working back at full tilt and hopefully by this stage things are working well.

I haven't made too many adjustments for age over the years. I never worked much with heavy weights. The biggest changes have been the one outlined above in allowing more time for adaptation but I really should have been doing that years ago and I might not have as many niggles as I do. In addition, I spend much more time warming up and mobilising before I train and this includes when I ski and also listening to my body much more than I used to. If I'm too tired or one of my old injuries is playing up, I will either change the training for the day or not do it at all, despite the fact that this frustrates me.

Gyms have never attracted me and so I do everything either at home or out and about. This way I never have to wait for equipment and don't get wound up watching meat heads showing off. I'm probably just jealous.

I worked out last year that to incorporate the variety and number of sessions I want to do requires a 9 day cycle. At first I stuck to this quite well but soon found other demands meant there were sometimes gaps between sessions that were too long, so I reverted to a more casual timetable. I incorporate 2 days off in every 7 on the whole.

If there is interest I will outline some specific exercises I do in the various categories but for now I will just address the way I structure my sessions. I have 2 things that work in my favour as I see it: 1. I am retired and therefore have the time and 2. I am very competitive (with myself) which makes motivation easier.

Things like hiking, mountain biking, canoeing etc. are different but for what I think of as home gym (a fancy word for my garage) sessions, I generally want to be training in 'The Zone' for between 35 and 45 minutes. More than this and from what I have read effectiveness and benefits are less than optimal.

I start the session with a progressive warm up to get the system working. This takes a few minutes. During the warm up I might use some very light weights to replicate the movements I'm going to make in the work phase. Ideally I will follow this with some foam rolling of the major muscle groups and then some mobilisation to get the joints mobile and synovial fluid lubricating them.

Then for the body of the session. I will usually choose 8 exercises and do 3 sets of each. The number of reps will depend on what I'm trying to achieve. Whatever the purpose, I use the principle of never doing the same session twice. This means changing one of the parameters of each exercise targeting a particular muscle group; either increasing the number of reps, the resistance, the speed or the actual exercise.

When the work has been done, I do a cool down (never understood the term warm down) involving easy movements and gradually lowering intensity, taking 5 or so minutes. I complete the session with some stretching of the main muscle groups I've used during the work.

That's my approach. 


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 kuba
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As for home only workout I do yoga and rehab ball balancing. I don't know if balancing really improves skiing but I feel like yoga helps to develop flexibility. And to me being flexible is one of the most important aspects of any sport- not only skiing. If we talking about pre-season preps in general (not only home) I do cycling, kayaking and swimming. Last two have probably nothing to do with skiing but I think it's good to serve our bodies as much activities as we can.


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(@adrian_hamilton)
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@kuba I think yoga and pilates are great additions to a fitness routine and will definitely improve flexibility, balance and control.

I suppose much depends on how fit you're aiming to be and how ski specific you want to make it.

To my thinking if you're really looking to optimise your ski prep there is so much you need to have in your schedule.

STRENGTH, AEROBIC CAPACITY, ANAEROBIC TRAINING, FLEXIBILITY, BALANCE, POWER, TECHNICAL to start with.

Then we need to look at how to make it functional; how to get muscle groups firing in the sequences we use them in our sport. We could discuss each element at length and I would certainly be up for that. As an enthusiastic amateur I know I have lots to learn and try.

 


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 kuba
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@adrian_hamilton I have to admit I had to google the second and third one:) Yes, that sounds like aproper schedule- do you break these and exercise one per day of a week (say, strength on Mondays, balance on Tuesdays...) or you squeeze all of them into one session?


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(@adrian_hamilton)
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@kuba you can combine some elements into the same session and there's some crossover in certain exercises. For example, you can very easily make agility and power sessions anaerobic, in fact it's hard not to. 

I often use agility and power exercises in the same session, though I'm not sure if that's the best thing to do.

I didn't add core as one of the elements though I probably should. At the moment I am not doing a specific core workout but tend to work on the basis of thinking about my core in pretty much everything which I think works it pretty effectively.

It's an endless list but I have just adopted one approach. It's certainly not the only one or even the best. I'm always looking for new ideas, reading watching videos, to be better informed.


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(@adrian_hamilton)
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Something that I think is really important in training is a trap many of fall into and that is spending too much time on the things we're already good at. We do it because we find it easy and we get a false feeling of reward and satisfaction. For example if you can squat twice your body weight and bench press 1.5 then while you may want to maintain that strength, you are already plenty strong enough so spending days pumping iron is not optimal for you.

Similarly if you have a fantastic aerobic capacity, running, cycling, swimming 3 or 4 times a week isn't what you need. The 2 x body weight squatter may lack agility and the aerobic guy may need work on their strength. 

In simple terms, cover everything but particularly address your weaker areas.

I think it's often quite similar with ski drills and exercises. People default to the things they can do well already and don't particularly challenge them or address the areas that need attention.


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(@skinerd)
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@adrian_hamilton I had this very conversation on the chairlift yesterday. Spiess may have been the drill in question. Do stuff you’re not good at!

‘If it doesn’t challenge you it doesn’t change you’... I think I read that on the back of some guys shirt:)


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(@adrian_hamilton)
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Another principle I apply in my training, especially in resistance training is to work unilaterally. There are several reasons.

1. We don't walk run or ski with both legs doing the same thing at the same time so why train like that.

2. Bilateral work allows for compensations. If you're squatting and your right leg is weaker than your left, the stronger leg will make up the deficit or other muscle groups will. Work your weaker side first as well.

3. We recruit muscle groups differently when working bilaterally compared to unilaterally. If we agree that skiing is primarily requiring unilateral work, then we need muscle firing in the correct sequence.


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(@geepers)
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This is an interesting topic. Stayed out of it to date as I have some specific issues that have been limiting fitness preparation. Something in the exercise routines I'd used in previous years aggravates hip joints and surrounding muscles. Not at the time of performing the exercise - the problems come later and build if I continue. In a week to 10 days and it's very sore. Been hard to pin down what particular exercise/s is causing it.

Skiing improves the situation (as long as no Spiess!). But can't ski many weeks per year. Fortunately found over 2020 that landscaping also helps - lugging bags of concrete, digging ditches, stacking stone walls all working well. Lots of projects getting done around our house. Although now in the heat of summer so a lower work rate atm.

In terms of fitness there's generally nothing as good as the actual activity to get the body into shape. 100+ day seasons = legs of steel if skiing physically most days. Shorts and bumps are great cardio. Basically a big, white gym. And it's incredible for shedding weight.

Do have a theory that the max benefit comes somewhere before day 80. After that there tends to be a bit of a decline. At least for the 60+ y/o. (This is from a small sample of myself and some buddies.)

  


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(@therealmrtall)
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Good discussion. I found a few resources on Backcountry.com that are ski-specific workouts that can be accomplished at home:

The latter article about eccentric leg strength is interesting. The Leg Blaster workout definitely lives up to its name and get the heart rate up too.

I'd like to hit the hill running each season if nothing more than to maximize time on the hill with more aggressive skiing, which requires more fitness. A 100-day (or more) season is but a pipe dream for me. ? It's not often I get many consecutive days on the hill -- we live in Victoria, which is about 2.5 to 3 hours door to door to Mt. Washington, so we usually only make it up weekends and holidays. I try to cross-train in between.

 


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(@therealmrtall)
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Good discussion. I found a few resources on Backcountry.com that are ski-specific workouts that can be accomplished at home:

 

The latter article about eccentric leg strength is interesting. The Leg Blaster workout definitely lives up to its name and get the heart rate up too.

In terms of goals, I'd like to hit the hill running each season if nothing more than to maximize time on the hill with more aggressive skiing, which requires more fitness. A 100-day (or more) season is but a pipe dream for me. ? It's not often I get many consecutive days on the hill -- we live in Victoria, which is about 2.5 to 3 hours door to door to Mt. Washington, so we usually only make it up weekends and holidays. I try to cross-train in between.

 


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(@geepers)
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@therealmrtall - yep, understand. In Australia these days I get to ski 5 days mid-week. And alternate weeks at that. (Seldom worth trying to ski weekends in Oz due to traffic and crowding.) So there's a tendency to max out the skiing each day, end up flattened by the end of day 5, have a week off mostly feeling every sore muscle and then go do it again! 

Fortunately there's some nice heavy work-out landscaping projects in the front yard lining up for autumn.

And... The mogul training ramp new stairs off the back balcony are operational. To assist focus on balance and dexterity I've yet to install the hand railing. ? 

 

More seriously, thanks for the links. The vids on the second one aren't available - if you still see them maybe it's a country access thing. On the 3rd the item about concentric/eccentric strength resonates. I have a stationary exercise bike and yet feel it gets me no-where. Whereas deep knee flexing and getting up from a low position that happens from the manual work is good preparation. That manual work, especially things like moving piles of dirt rock with pick and shovel, also work the core. Pretty good cardio as well.


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(@therealmrtall)
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I stumbled upon some videos by Johnny Moseley. The dirt mogul training (second video) is insane.


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(@geepers)
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Yeah, JM training was kind of out there.

Came across this item... @adrian_hamilton - maybe related to all those WC wins!!

 

For the younger folk...


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