Wake Up Your Muscles for the Upcoming Ski Season

woman squatting with weights

Photo: Ian Momsen

Many of us try to stay active during the summer with activities such as hikes and bike rides. We figure the two 14er’s we hiked and the volleyball summer league we were in, have kept our bodies in shape enough to hit the slopes hard when they open up for the season. Well, that’s not always the case. An enjoyable, safe day skiing requires many different muscle groups. And to get those muscles in shape it requires time. You can’t expect to start exercising a week before opening day and be hulked out instantly. So, here are some tips for ways to start now in order to help prevent being couch-ridden with soreness after your first day back on the hill.


It may be obvious that leg strength is important when skiing or riding, but what’s less obvious is which kind of strength is necessary. Here are a few exercises that will focus on the muscles needed for a great day on the mountain.

Leg Blasters

Leg blasters focus on eccentric leg strength rather than concentric leg strength. As Rob Shaul, owner of Mountain Athlete Training Center in Jackson, WY explains, eccentric strength can be thought of the strength needed to descend the hike or go down into a squat (such as the stance used for skiing or boarding) while concentric strength is described as the muscles needed for hiking up or lifting out of a squat. Shaul has put together a great progressive program for a leg blaster routine you can try at home. You can find it here along with a video of athlete Pip Hunt demonstrating a set. Visuals can make new moves and exercises less intimidating. And don’t panic when you see the speed that Hunt is performing the leg blaster. Go at your own controlled pace and work up to that. Focus on form and breathing.


woman performing deadlift

Can’t find a weight to use for the deadlift? Use a household item like a big book!

ACL injuries are all too familiar in the snow sports world. Deadlifts help boost hamstring strength which can help stabilize the knee in the prevention of an ACL tear. There are a few variations of the deadlift but they all are great exercises for both the hamstrings and glutes. The main key points are to keep your chest out and back straight while performing a deadlift exercise. Start with your feet hip-width apart and hold either a dumbbell or hand weights. With a slight bend in the knee, bend at the waist. Remember to keep the chest out and back straight. Lower the weights as low as comfortably possible. Lift back to the start position engaging your glutes and hamstrings. Resist the urge to use your arms to pull the weights up. Repeat this for 4 sets of 8.


Going up you’ll work the quads but try to choose a route that you know has a steep descent to engage the eccentric muscle group mentioned earlier. You’ll also get some Vitamin D and check out the mountain flora and fauna before it’s all covered in the white stuff.

Upper Body

Skiing and boarding primarily trigger leg and core muscles but it’s important to have a strong upper body as well for the best performance while ripping down the mountain. Upper body strength can help with balance as well as with the potential falls that we don’t like to admit may happen.

Reverse Pull-Ups

This move, also known as a Slow Negative, focuses on your lateral back muscles. It’s also a good way to work towards achieving that darn, elusive pull-up.
Start in a flexed hang position. Slowly lower your body in a controlled manner. Try to have the lowering movement last up to 10 seconds. The end position is arms extended and body hanging. When you’re first starting out, do one at a time with rest between each one. As you progress, you’ll be able to repeat the process more quickly. Before you know it, you’ll be able to knock down stereotypes and perform more pull-ups than Mr. Muscle at the gym. Don’t have access to a pull-up bar? Just head to a park with a jungle gym!


Push-ups are always an effective, simple addition to your daily workout routine. They work both the arm muscles as well as the pectoral muscles. There are a few variations to choose from; incline, traditional, knees. Pick one that helps push you to improve. You don’t want them to be too easy.


The core is very important not only in skiing but everyday life as well. For info on how to increase your core strength, head on over to Jacqueline’s tips on core sculpting moves.

These strengthening exercises, combined with some endurance training, will certainly help lead you to a great opening day and continued fun throughout the season. And don’t forget to stretch and drink plenty of water after each workout to avoid the funny, sore waddling the next day!

women downhill skiing

What ways do you get in shape after being a bit dormant? We’d love to hear them in the comments below!

Disclaimer: These moves are explained in the way I perform them and are my personal method of getting in shape. Do not continue with a move that causes pain or discomfort. Listen to your body and perform moves you are comfortable with!


Bailey Valian

Bailey was born and raised in a small Colorado mountain town called Crested Butte. This is where her love for the outdoors started. She has now found herself in Denver, CO where the mountains aren't too far away. When she's not hiking, camping or skiing in the mountains she enjoys traveling, volunteering, going to sporting events (Go Broncos and Avs!) and making friends with any animal she meets.

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