Strength Training to Improve Your Skiing

squats with kettlebells

There is no doubt that strength training can improve your skiing. Of course good technique is crucial, but if your muscles are weak or fatigued, you will not be able to perform properly.

As with any form of strength training, the key to effective workouts is to have a plan. That means that strength training for skiing should focus on the muscles that are used the most in this activity.

Skiing places most demand on the legs and the core, with less demand placed on the upper body - your training should reflect this.

Strength for Your Legs

If you ever look at professional skiers, it is obvious where their power lies - they have massive upper legs and butts. This is partly from the skiing, but is also because they spend hours in the gym building their lower body strength.

The ultimate exercise for building this area is squats. Squats build the muscles in your upper legs, butt, hips, calves, and core - just about everything you need to ski. Top pros like Hermann Maier do prodigious quantities of squats.

The key for skiing is to build your strength endurance, rather than pure strength. That means it is best to work on doing a lot of reps of a medium weight - three to fours sets of 20 reps would work well.

The beauty of squats is that even if you don't go to the gym you can do them at home without weights and they will still be effective.

The other great exercise is lunges. Again, use a light weight and do lots of reps. If you are unsure how to perform squats or lunges safely and properly, ask a trainer to help you.

If you have access to a gym, leg presses are a reasonable substitute for squats, and easier to do without a spotter. Machine based exercises such as leg curls and leg extensions have some benefits, but are not as effective.

Core Strength

Building the muscles in your core - your stomach, back and sides - is also important.

Traditional sit-ups are not very effective, the best core exercises include :

  • Crunches on a Swiss ball
  • Reverse crunches
  • The plank
  • Swimming with tumble turns!

Core strength should be a part of every strength workout you do - don't leave it till last, as it's easy to just put it off if you are short on time.

Upper Body

Thought less important, having some strength in your upper body will also be helpful on the slopes. A basic workout of chest, shoulders, back and arm exercises will be sufficient.

If you don't have access to a gym, there are plenty of good exercises you can do at home - press-ups and triceps dips are excellent choices.


  • You should start your training at least 6 to 12 weeks before your holiday
  • Aim for two to three strength training sessions per week
  • Allow at least 48 hours of rest between each strength workout
  • Be sure to include some cardio and flexibility work in your training program
  • Look for ways to add more activity to your everyday life - taking the stairs, walking a bit more etc

Consistent training before your holiday starts will allow you to relax and take whatever challenges the slopes throw at you.

By Will Smith



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