Winter is fast approaching and it’s time to start thinking about how to get our bodies prepared for the slippery, sliding demands of the season!
I’ve been using living room workouts to train myself and my clients for winter since before COVID times. But this winter especially, with gyms closed and lots of stress and uncertainty in the world, it’s super important to think about how you can support your mental health and your outdoor recreation goals from home.
These exercises have lots of benefits but they’re particularly good for winter recreationalists. If you practice them regularly, you’ll build the strength and stability that helps prevent injuries, keep up with your friends, and have as much fun as possible this winter.
Great for: Backcountry and alpine skiers–they replicate the off-centered weight balance of skinning and help build awareness of weight shifts for your turns.
Movement Cues: Start with your feet a little wider than hips distance apart and one foot elevated on either a yoga block or a small stack of books. Even out your weight between your two feet and then bend knees and hips down and back into a squat. Try one with most of your weight on your lower foot. Then try one with most of your weight on the elevated foot. Finally, try evening out the weight between both feet and see if you can sustain that for a series of reps. Repeat on the second side.
Great for: Skate skiers and anyone wanting to recover from and/or prevent ACL injuries–they replicate the motion of skate skiing and strengthen the outer glute muscles which support proper knee alignment and stability.
Movement Cues: Start with your feet a little wider than your hips distance apart. Shift your weight over onto one foot and take the opposite foot behind you at about a 45° angle toward the back corner of your space. Bend both knees, keeping the front knee stacked over the front ankle and some weight on the inner edge of the front foot. Drive through the heel of the front foot to bring yourself back up to center. Repeat on the second side.
Great for: Improving balance and knee health, as well as preparing for wipeouts, post-holing, and getting your ski boots on outside without getting your socks wet!
***The pistol squad is the move of the year for Ski Babes 2020/21! My introduction to it was in physical therapy after my ACL surgeries; it’s a challenging and important one to practice regularly.
Movement Cues: Set yourself up with something to hold onto (like a tall-backed chair) before you shift your weight over onto one foot and evenly balance your weight on the whole foot. Hover your other foot out in front of you, with either the heel on the ground or floating an inch or two off the ground. Then bend the knee of your standing leg and shift the hips back toward the space behind you. Lower your hips down as low as you can go, keeping the knee lined up over the ankle. Then drive your heel down into the floor to come back up to standing.
As you’re ready to increase difficulty you can let go of your chair and drop your hips lower and lower, maybe eventually getting hips down as low as your knee.
Important form note: Make sure to pay attention to your knee tracking with this one especially! Keep your knee in line with your second or third toe, and don’t go beyond the point at which you can maintain the alignment.
Plank Ski Tucks
Great for: Increasing course strength for stability and injury prevention, specifically replicating alpine skiing’s core twisting motions.
Equipment: Find something that slides on your floor, like gliding discs, paper plates, dish towels, or fuzzy socks.
Movement Cues: Start off in a plank position with shoulders over wrists and either knees on the ground or toes on your gliding discs. Stabilize in your plank, then pull your knees forward and toward your right elbow into a twist. They may move just an inch or two, or might come all the way forward and make contact with your arm. Keep your shoulders stacked over your wrists. Then push back into a plank position and alternate your twists between sides.
Triceps with disks
Great for: Nordic skiers (think double poling) and anyone who uses ski poles or trekking poles.
Movement Cues: Using your slippery discs from the previous exercise, start laying flat on your belly on the floor with your hands on the disks. Pull the discs toward you and lift your torso up with straight arms as far as your low back allows. From this position, drop your elbows down toward the ground. Then, without allowing the disks to slide, extend your elbows straight forward (pressing the pits of your elbows toward the front), raising your torso back up. You should feel a contraction in the back of your arms, where your triceps live. Continue to lower and extend the elbows for as many reps as you can.
Ski Babes: Online Training for Winter Sports
Looking for more? Try out Sarah’s Busy Day Workout to get a sense of her workout style, or take her ACL Injury Risk self-test to evaluate your knee health. Then consider joining Sarah’s upcoming online training program: Ski Babes: Online Training for Winter Sports. This online program begins October 12, 2020 and will help you build the kind of functional strength you need for outdoor adventures—from your living room! Join with discount code SKIBABESJUMPS for $20 off–and 10% of your purchase will go back to SheJumps!
Sarah Histand is a personal trainer, mental health counselor, and outdoor adventurer from Alaska. She uses these exercises to prepare herself and her clients for winter sports season, backcountry adventures, and winter mood and stress management.