6 Ways to Get Your Ski Legs Ready for Powder

Getting ready for the first big storm of the winter means much more than getting your skis or board tuned. Emily Miner knows this for certain. At 32, she is the membership director at Middlebury Fitness and a certified trainer with the TRX training system, a method of exercise that utilizes two suspended straps designed by a U.S. Navy SEAL.

A lifelong skier, Miner first learned skiing at the Middlebury Snow Bowl and participated in the ski racing program at Killington. She continues to enjoy the Snowbowl and Bromley, while her personal favorite, Jay Peak, is where she and her husbanded honeymooned, and where they still drive to ski whenever they have the extra time for a get-away.

As the season gets closer, Miner has been getting ready for the ski season with workout regimens to exercise key muscle groups.

The exercises in her programs are designed to build muscular endurance and therefore emphasize using lower weights with higher reps. For these exercises, she says, start with one to three sets of eight to 12 reps. You can also try the exercises for 30 to 60 seconds at a high intensity while maintaining proper form.

Here’s how to perform the six exercises:

Warming Up

To get started, Miner warms up with 20 minutes of intense interval workouts on the Stair Master. Running, she says, is a good option as well, but whatever you do, make sure to include at least 20 minutes of a cardiovascular workout, if at all possible.

Hamstring Curl

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Miner says her first day of the season is always a full day and this exercise is one that helps prepare her.

“I have not found another exercise that gets my hamstrings to where they need to be for my first day out,” she says. To do the curl, lie on the floor and secure your heels in both of the TRX loops with your knees extended. In one motion, draw your knees towards your chest. For an easier option, position yourself closer to the anchor point. To progress, move further away.

Miner likes to use this exercise in a combination with three movements — a bridge, a hamstring curl and then a hip press. These three movements exercise your calf muscles, glutes and your ankles, an area she says is often overlooked.

“That’s where most of the movement comes from when you’re skiing,” she says. “Even though you’re stuck in that boot, you have a little bit of play, so it’s important to strengthen that.

Cross-Over Lunge

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A good movement for boosting your heart rate and strengthening your lower body, specifically your quads, is the cross-over lunge. In the starting position, stand holding the two TRX loops away from you. Drop your right leg behind your left leg as you squat with your left knee. This can also be enhanced to include a lateral hop to provide some ankle flexion. Be careful not to hang from the rungs as this will reduce the effectiveness of the exercise.

Single-Legged Lunge

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Stand upright with one foot looped in a single TRX loop and your arms by your sides. Drop your body down toward the floor, bending at your hips and knees and leaning your torso slightly forward. Rapidly push off your front foot, coming up to jump off the floor. Land in a squat position and repeat.

BOSU Ball Squats

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The BOSU ball is half of a rubber ball with a flattened side. This tool can be useful for balance and lower body exercises. Miner recommends two kinds of squats on both sides of the ball – one on the flat and the other on the rounded side. These will develop muscle strength and balance.

“The rounded side is particularly good for simulating moguls,” she says.

Tuck and Pike

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Miner combines these two exercises for a more intense core workout.

Tuck: Suspend your heels in the TRX straps and raise yourself in a bridge position off the floor on your arms. Draw your knees into your chest while keeping yourself stable and then return back out to the straight position.

Pike: Start in a straight body position with your hands on the floor in front and your feet looped through the handles. Pull your feet toward your body while lifting your hips into the air with your legs straight. To make it harder, place your hands on a BOSU Ball or a weighted medicine ball.

Side Bends

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Stand with both hands in the TRX straps with your feet planted on the floor. Lean to one side holding the handles overhead with our arms straight. Arch your torso over to one side and reach your arms to this side. Pull your body back up to the start position. Complete reps on one side before switching to the other side.

Evan Johnson

Evan Johnson is the staff writer for Vermont Sports Magazine. The native Vermonter enjoys steep and deep skiing and wandering all over the state by Subaru. Find him on Twitter at @evanisathome.