Training for a Safe and Fun Ski Season

Posted on Oct. 14, 2022

Crested Butte’s ski season is just over a month away, which means it’s time to start training if you haven’t already! Skiing and snowboarding both require strong stabilizer muscles. With hundreds of different possible exercises to choose from, it can be difficult to know where to begin to maximize your performance on the slopes. We spoke with Carrie Jo Chernoff Hicks, owner of Crested Butte exercise and training facility Synergy Athlete, to learn more about how you can best prepare for a season on the slopes. Read on for her top exercises.

Training for Ski Season - Crested Butte October 2022 Blog

Banded Side-Lying Clams Exercise

1. Glute Bridges

WHY: Chernoff Hicks calls the glutes a “secret weapon.” They’re big muscles that protect the low back, assist with proper knee alignment and help maintain a balanced position. It’s easy to become quad-dominant when skiing and playing sports in general, which can cause you to lose the ability to engage and recruit the glutes. Too much load on the quads then puts pressure on the knees, so strengthening the glutes is key to staying upright and uninjured as you make your way down the mountain.

HOW: Lie on your back with both feet on the floor. Brace your core and lift your hips off the ground, driving through your heels, and squeeze your glutes at the top. Go slow and hold the squeeze at the top before carefully lowering back down. Make sure not to arch your back through the exercise. For a challenge, extend one leg out and turn it into a single-leg glute bridge, then switch to the other side.

2. Banded Side-Lying Clams

WHY: As skiers and riders get tired, it’s common to lose proper form and default to certain movement patterns. One of the most common of these is knee pronation – when the knees turn inward during movements such as walking, squatting, or, you guessed it, skiing. Banded side-lying clams work the lateral rotator muscles of the hip to combat that tendency. The exercise strengthens the outer muscles of the glute to help pull the knees into alignment and hold them in a stable position for better form through the entire ski day.

HOW: Put a band around your thighs and lie on one side with your knees bent at a 45-degree angle and your feet together. Put one arm on the ground for support. Make sure your back is straight and your hips are stacked on top of one another. Push against the band and spread your knees as far apart as you can, then return to the starting position, keeping your feet stationary and your abs engaged the whole time. Think about isolating the glute muscle and avoid the temptation to use your momentum to pull the knees apart.

3. Pushups

WHY: You might be thinking – why pushups? You don’t use your shoulders much on the slopes. But oftentimes, ski and ride crashes result in shoulder injuries, and those can sideline you for a while. Stabilizing those scapular and trapezius muscles heading into the season can keep that injury risk to a minimum. Pushups can also help skiers generate more force to plant their poles, making those quick turns easier and more fluid.

HOW: Get in a plank position with your arms and legs straight, placing your hands directly below your shoulders. Keep your core tight and your pelvis tucked, forming a straight line with your body. Start with a few scapular pushups. Keeping your shoulders away from the ears, pull your shoulder blades together, and think about pushing your scapulae down toward your hips. This priming movement helps set the scapulae into a good position and reminds your body how to properly engage the lats. Hold your final scap pushup for a few seconds, then move into standard pushups. Your chest, core and hips should all move together.

Try filming yourself at home doing some of the exercises mentioned above, and watch the videos back to check your form. Or better yet, attend a class! Synergy Athlete has a progressive program specifically dedicated to getting you in shape for the 22/23 ski season, preventing injury and keeping you in shape all winter long. The Winter Conditioning Program runs from the end of September 2022 through the end of November 2022 on Monday and Wednesday evenings, then transitions into a winter maintenance program to help prevent injuries and maximize your time on the slopes. Meet new friends, explore a new side of life in Crested Butte, and get yourself in shred-worthy shape. Happy training!