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Home / Articles / Arts & Entertainment / Get Out /  Utah skiing calls for early prep
Get Out

Utah skiing calls for early prep

It’s not too early to start thinking about getting in ski-season shape.

By Wina Sturgeon
Posted // August 12,2009 -

It’s hot. It’s still summer. Why in the world should you think about snowy slopes in August?

Answer: Because it takes at least four months to build the muscle, power and endurance you need if you’re a hardcore skier, free skier or ski racer, whether Masters, Nastar or Town Challenge. Start now, and you’ll be strong, powerful and ready for the season when the lifts start up again. Even if you’re not a ski racer, training like one will build your body to better than you thought it could be.

Masters champion Mike Falk knows how to train. He’s one of the fastest racers in the Intermountain division and has won both the Masters nationals and regionals. There’s no diamond so black that he can’t tuck it. But, he advises skiers to start off easy.

“Get on your bike—mountain, road, even unicycle, it doesn’t matter. Cycling builds up cardio and imitates a lot of the leg movements of racing or skiing bumps and rough terrain. Mountain biking is better than road riding for skiing; it works your balance and core strength,” he says.

But, don’t just poke along; do interval training. Falk says to sprint, then ride along placidly until your heart rate returns to normal, then sprint again. As for the sprint duration, Falk says, “A regular ski run is one to three minutes, so you have to work out in a way that allows you to go for that long.”

His favorite training exercise is the onelegged squat because it super-sizes the workout on your quads and hamstrings and trains your balance at the same time. Falk says the exercise is a good one for any active person. “It’s one of the best exercises you can do anywhere on the planet, and you don’t even need a gym to do it,” he says.

Start one-legged squats with only your body weight. Put one foot behind you on a chair or bench. For increased balance work, use an exercise ball. Slowly squat down until your front thigh is parallel to the f loor, then slowly stand back up. At first, you may need to hold on to a wall or table for support. Start with five reps, then repeat with the other foot behind you. Do three times a week. When five reps get easy, increase to 10. When 10 get easy, start doing the exercise while holding dumbbells.

Many skiers make the mistake of thinking they don’t need to work their upper bodies. But carving down the mountain uses all the muscles—biceps, triceps, core, back and chest. Falk advises doing what he calls the “classic trio”: pull-ups, dips and curls.

“Those three exercises alone are great for your upper body. You may want to augment them with others, like the bench press, but dips, pull-ups and curls will get your upper body strong,” he says.

The expert skier also advises a little plyometric work, a type of exercise that trains the body to make fast and powerful movements. At this point of the pre-season, he suggests using a jump rope for at least five minutes every other day.

A skier’s training, whether for tricks, racing or big mountain, is based on periodization, which means constantly conditioning the body to accept a higher level of training. Falk describes it as an upsidedown pyramid. “As you get more fit, you can do more and harder exercises,” he says—and, of course, the more fit you are, the easier those hard exercises will be.

Falk sums it up succinctly: “There’s no doubt that the stronger you are, the faster you’ll be and the bigger you can go.”

 
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