Got a ski trip planned over an upcoming winter vacation? Start working on strengthening and flexibility training now so you can hit the slopes in tip top shape.
Activity-Specific Workout of the Month Defined: A 30 minute strength and stretch training workout tailored to benefit those who engage in a particular recreational sport or activity. The workouts will be challenging and safe for the novice but will also offer progressions for the experienced. If your children participate in these activities, know that strength and flexibility training is not only safe for kids but beneficial as well. The workouts will have minimal equipment requirements so they can be done anywhere. The goal is to properly strengthen and stretch the key muscle groups involved in the activity so the participant can achieve performance improvements and reduce the risk of injury. Click on the exercise to link to examples and step-by-step descriptions provided by www.acefitness.org.
Downhill Skiing Strength and Flexibility Workout
Concept: Primary strength and stretch targets are the core and upper legs with secondary targets of arms, chest and upper back to offer stability for maneuvering and bracing strength and flexibility for falls. Progressions incorporate balance and agility training for those more experienced in strength and flexibility training. Perform this workout 1-3 times per week, allowing a minimum of 48 hours rest between workout sessions, several weeks before and throughout the ski season:
Warm-Up: 2-5 minutes of high knee marching, swinging opposing arms to shoulder height as you lift knees to hip height.
Strength Workout: Perform the following exercise circuit in succession with no rest between exercises
- Standing Gate Openers: 8-16 repetitions each side. Works the inner and outer thighs. Progression: add a balance challenge by performing with eyes closed
- Front Plank: Hold for 10-30 seconds. Strengthens entire core – abdominals and back. Progression: hold plank for 20 seconds, rest for 10 seconds, return to plank for 10-30 seconds
- Squats: 8-16 repetitions. Works quadriceps, hamstrings, hip flexors and glutes. Progression: *add weight by holding free weights, medicine ball or containers filled with water while performing squats. Start with lighter weights, 1-5 lbs, until you can easily perform 20+ squats in a set before progressing to heavier weights.
- Push-Ups on Knees: 8-16 repetitions. Works arms, chest and upper back. Progression: perform on toes
- Forward Lunges: 8-16 repetitions each side. Works quadriceps, hamstrings, hip flexors and glutes. Progression: add weight, see progression for squats above*
- After performing each exercise once, rest for 1-2 minutes and repeat the circuit (standing gate openers through forward lunges) for a second set of each exercise. After performing the circuit twice, perform the flexibility workout.
Flexibility Workout: Hold each stretch for 20-30 seconds
- Leg Crossover Stretch: opens up the hips and stretches the outer thigh muscles
- Seated Straddle Stretch: stretches hamstrings, inner thighs and glutes
- Hip Flexor Stretch: stretches hip flexors and glutes
- Downward Dog: full-body stretch with primary targets of hamstrings and calves
- Childs Pose: targets core and provides instant relaxation to end your workout
The keys to safe and effective strength training are the same regardless of gender or age – proper warm-up, form, breathing, load, progressions and stretching. The cues for these exercises provided by ACE Fitness (via my links) are excellent and, if followed, anyone can perform this workout safely, even a novice. It’s important to focus on your own body’s feedback and listen to the cues your body is providing you. Adults are much better at reading those cues than children are. For this reason, if any of these exercises are new to your child, I recommend having a professional (such as your child’s coach, gym teacher or sports trainer) review the proper form for each of these exercises with your student athlete.
Author’s Note: Always consult your physician before beginning any new exercise program.
Previous Workouts of the Month: Hockey & Cross-Country Skiing, Snowboarding & Figure Skating, Golf & Softball, Distance Running, Racquet Sports, Swimming, Waterskiing & Surfing, Cycling, Rowing & Desk Jockeys, Track, Field & Court Sports, Throwing & Pitching, Dancing