Pre-Season Ski Training
This autumn has been stunning out in the Alps. After a hot and dry summer, the colours have been breathtaking. Combined with endless days of clear blue skies, glorious sunshine and warm temperatures it has meant that we have been able to continue cycling, running, hiking and enjoying all that the mountains have to offer.
Since completing the triathlon in Yverdon at the beginning of September, I have sadly stopped swimming as I don’t own a wetsuit, and I have been saving every penny I can as inter-season does not provide a huge amount of employment for me, so I have not used the local pool. I mentioned in the Balance Your Body post of the different training I have been doing and decided to expand and share my training sessions to inspire you and fellow skiers.
Continuing with at least a 5-10k run a week keeps running practice and endurance fitness in check. Running clears my mind and I enjoy the plod for myself. Mixing the runs up by going high into the mountains, exploring new roads and sprinting up hills have all added variety to sessions, and helped with getting faster. Despite a dip in performance in October (tonsillitis…), I have been thrilled to notice an increase in running pace.
I invested (I seem to be constantly ‘investing’) in sleeves and leg warmers for cycling to encourage myself to continue using my bike into the autumn. I enjoyed riding in Le Châble with my cycling fanatic friend, Tess, who showed me a few new routes before coming back to Les Gets where I enjoyed some rides around home. Adamant to not lose my confidence, these longer cycles with no pressure on performance have done my confidence good, as well as keep my legs strong and maintain cardio respiratory fitness.
High Intensity Interval Training is a great way to burn fat. Working your body for a short period of time at a high intensity fires the body’s metabolism to burn fat fast, and for longer after your workout is complete. It is also a great way to improve your fitness and strength and build endurance whilst doing these intense exercises.
I have used two different formats for these sessions.
1: 4 exercises to be repeated 5 times for 30s with a rest of 30s between each exercise. This lasts for roughly 20 minutes. I find 4 exercises repeated 5 times harder than 5 exercises repeated 4 times. It’s also easier to remember! Today, I was chuffed to get through 5 different exercises 5 times.
Tip: I count how many repetitions I can do in 30s and try and maintain it throughout the session or better, try and beat the amount of repetitions.
Exercises include burpees, mountain climbers, squat jumps, lunge jumps, high knees, jumping jacks, press-up crawl… All intended to make your muscles burn and you gasp for breath. Make sure you choose a group of exercises that use your entire body for a balanced workout. It is no bad thing if it is leg-heavy, but just make sure you are aware of that and if that is what you want to achieve.
Example hiit session:
Burpees (I spin around to alternate direction between each burpee. You could also include a press-up or a tuck jump)
Squat jump into lunge jump into squat jump into lunge jump…
Press-up, crawl sideways for two hand steps, press-up, crawl back
High knees and punch the air with your arms out in front of you
2. With so many different drills to choose from and at different intensities to perform them, I was overwhelmed and wanted to do everything all at once as they all look fun and challenging. I whittled the exercises down to a selection more specific for skiing (with a bit of upper body strength thrown in for good measure) and decided to do 3 circuits of 3 different exercises to be repeated 3 times.
Here is an example of one of them:
Do one circuit with minimal rest. Rest for roughly one minute or less. Repeat each circuit 3 times before moving on to the next circuit.
Squat jumps on to a bench x 20
Icky Shuffle through ladder (video below) x 3 (forwards and backwards = 1)
Press-ups (full or on knees, just keep heart rate elevated) x 20
Lunge jumps x 20
Double footed jumps into the middle of the ladder, then out to the right, back to the middle, out to the left etc x3 (forwards and backwards = 1)
Tricep dips x 20
3 one leg jumps sideways, land and balance on 3rd. Repeat on other leg. (video below) x5 on each leg
Hop scotch through ladder x3 (forwards and backwards = 1)
One legged squats x 5-10 (as many as you can do)
One leg hops up and down stairs is a burner, too!
Jumping up the stairs – great for training legs to become more powerful in short bursts.
Hopping about on one leg engages all muscles used when skiing and puts them under stress by moving in different directions. Stopping after every few hops challenges balance. Correct form is important to protect the knees.
Practising agility skills through a ladder results in quicker feet – great for those bumps! Backwards, forwards, sideways – use all planes of movement and invent your own challenges for fun (or turn to trusty YouTube).
My upper body strength, despite swimming over the summer, is not quite what it was last summer with clearing up the weights room on a regular basis. Although my main focus is have strong legs for skiing and other sports, being balanced and having a strong upper body, is just as important. With bendy joints, it is crucial that I keep my muscles strong to keep my bones in place. Getting back into using my Bodyelastics kit has been great and I’ve enjoyed setting myself challenges to increase upper body strength.
Core strength, for me, is the source of all other strength. Good core strength protects the back and helps prevent niggles and small injuries that can lead to much bigger problems and chronic pain. We use our core in nearly every movement we make.
Core sessions have involved crunches, leg raises, bicycle curls, balancing on balls, cardio respiratory-based abdominal exercises – as per usual, a real variety, and I do them until I feel a burn.
Try to stay controlled, precise, accurate and to keep breathing.
Without a squat rack and weights, and not being a huge fan of using the Bodyelastic kit for leg strength, I have concentrated on building strength through plyometric (jumping around!) exercises and using my body weight. Jumping up and down stairs, double footed, on one leg, side to side, landing in balance and accurately are all good skills and drills to prepare the legs and strengthen those poor knees before they take a bashing on skis. These have been incorporated into hiit/circuit sessions.
One legged squats are great to build strength in the quad, around the knee, in the glute and hamstring. Start by lowering slowly and in a controlled manner to sit on a chair, then power up to stand (without the upper body for too much momentum) to begin with. Holding the squat for a second or two can also give the leg an extra workout before progressing to a full one legged squat. Trying to do them on a Bosu ball can be a further challenge by testing balance. Holding a double legged squat against a wall and against a fitness ball can also mimic ski positions.
I realise that being unemployed at the moment has given me plenty of time to lark about in the garden and my mountainous playground, but even for busy-bees out there, these workouts (unless you go for a longer run or cycle) can last anywhere between 20-60 minutes. I was up at 07h30 this morning to squeeze a session in before the day began. It just requires planning and some self discipline, and how much you want the results.
Now snow has fallen it has made training outside challenging, and with not much room in the house to train I am definitely looking forward to putting pre-season fitness to the test on skis. Japan is this winter’s destination (more about this in my next post) and I can’t wait to get out there. And get earning some money again..! Roll on season 2015-16!