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 Strength Training for Skiing 
The following is one in an ongoing series of columns entitled Keeping Fit by . View all columns in series

Exercise Repetitions and Resistance: Muscle strength is best developed by fatiguing the target muscle within the anaerobic energy system, which for most practical purposes is between 50-70 seconds. At a controlled movement speed of six seconds per repetition, this corresponds to about 8-12 repetitions per set. Most people can perform 8-12 repetitions with about 75 percent of their maximum resistance, which is a safe and productive exercise workload. Although you may periodically want to train with higher or lower repetitions, 8-12 repetitions per set is the recommended repetition range.

Exercise Progression

If you use the recommended 8-12 repetitions per set, then you need a sensible progression policy. Because muscle strength develops gradually, you should not increase the resistance more than five percent between successive training sessions. Basically, you should stay with a given weightload until you can complete 12 repetitions in good form. Then add five percent more resistance (usually 2.5 to 5.0 pounds) to your next workout. This double progressive system, first adding more repetitions then adding more resistance, is a safe and sound method for stimulating consistent strength gains.


Strength training is an excellent conditioning activity for downhill skiing. If you choose a comprehensive exercise program, the training sessions may take about 40 minutes. If you prefer the briefer "Big Six Ski Strengthening Exercises" you should complete each workout in about 15 minutes. The recommended training program is one set of 8-12 repetitions with approximately 75 percent of maximum resistance. You should perform every repetition through a full movement range at a slow movement speed, exhaling during the lifting phase and inhaling during the lowering phase. Two exercise sessions per week are sufficient, especially during the ski season, but three workouts per week will produce slightly better results. Keep in mind that gradual strength gain is the major training objective, and avoid any tendency to do too much too soon. If possible, train under the guidance of a knowledgeable instructor, or at least with a compatible exercise partner. Maintain a consistent workout schedule, and keep accurate records of your training progress. If you start now, you may be pleasantly surprised at how much better and longer you ski this winter.

Six Week Training Program for the Big Six Ski Strengthening Exercises

The following charts provide a sample six week ski preparation program using the Big Six Ski Strengthening Exercises. The suggested training weightloads should be increased or decreased according to individual abilities. Use an appropriate weightload to complete the recommended number of repetitions in perfect form.

Week One: Monday and Thursday

Exercise Sets Reps Suggested Weight Suggested Weight
Males Females

Leg Press
Hip Adduction
Hip Abduction
Chest Press
Seated Row
Rotary Torso
120.0 lbs.
75.0 lbs.
60.0 lbs.
60.0 lbs.
80.0 lbs.
60.0 lbs.
80.0 lbs.
55.0 lbs.
40.0 lbs.
30.0 lbs.
50.0 lbs.
40.0 lbs.

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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......moreWayne Westcott PhD
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