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eeping Fit

Strength Training for Skiing

© Wayne L. Westcott PhD

The following is one in an ongoing series of columns entitled Keeping Fit by Wayne L. Westcott PhD. View all columns in series

While this represents a comprehensive selection of strength training exercises, some skiers may not have time to do this workout before and particularly during the ski season. In this case, I recommend the "Big Six Ski Strengthening Exercises" that address most of the major muscle groups in a shorter training season.

Big Six Ski Strengthening Exercises

Exercise Major Muscle Groups

Leg Press
Hip Adduction
Hip Abduction
Chest Press
Seated Row
Rotary Torso
Quadriceps, Hamstrings, Gluteals, Calves
Hip Adductors
Hip Abductors
Chest, Front Shoulders, Triceps
Upper Back, Rear Shoulders, Biceps
Internal/External Obliques, Lower Back, Abdominals

Exercise Technique
It is important to strength train in a safe, effective, and efficient manner. In terms of training technique, this means full movement range and slow movement speed on every repetition.

Full Movement Range: Strength is best developed in the movement range that is exercised against the resistance. In order to develop strength throughout the entire joint action, it is necessary to train through the full movement range. That is, the target muscle should be worked from the fully-stretched position to the fully-contracted position.

Slow Movement Speed: Slow strength training movements are more productive than fast strength training movements. This is because slow movement speeds produce more muscle force and more muscle tension than fast movement speeds. Slower movement speeds also place less emphasis on momentum and more emphasis on the target muscle. Because downhill skiing involves mostly eccentric muscle contractions, it may be advisable to emphasize the negative (lowering) phase of each repetition. My personal preference is six-second repetitions with two seconds for each lifting movement and four seconds for each lowering movement.

Breathing: It is essential to breath on every repetition, as breath holding can lead to undesirable increases in blood pressure as well as restricted blood flow. The recommended breathing pattern is to exhale during each lifting movement and to inhale during each lowering movement.

Exercise Protocol

Exercise protocol includes the number of training sessions per week, the number of sets and repetitions, and the guidelines for progressing to heavier resistance. Because strength development is more closely related to training intensity than training duration, excellent results may be attained with relatively brief time commitment.

Exercise Frequency

Research reveals that two training sessions per week produce 85 percent as much strength development as three training sessions per week. It is therefore preferable to train three days per week if your schedule permits. However, you may attain the same level of strength fitness over a longer training period on two-day-per-week training.

Exercise Sets

Studies do not show any strength-building advantage for multiple-set training. Although there is nothing wrong with performing warm-up sets, one stimulus set is as effective as two or three sets for increasing muscle strength. That is, one maximum effort exercise set provides the essential stimulus for new strength development. This is good news for me and other individuals who have time constraints on their training sessions.

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About The Author
Wayne L. Westcott, Ph.D., is fitness research director at the South Shore YMCA in Quincy, MA. He is strength training consultant for numerous national organizations, such as the American Council on Exercise, the American Senior Fitness Association, and the National Youth Sports Safety Foundation, and editorial advisor for many publications, including Prevention, Shape, and......more
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