By Jen Scott & Erica Tingey, Women in the Mountains — If you are a multi-sport, mountain athlete, you’ll likely want to have strategies to move between seasons with ease. Some people are able to move between skiing and mountain biking smoothly, but others may need some adaptive exercises to prepare for the upcoming season.
Skiing and mountain biking at first glance seem like similar sports, since they are both gravity-powered downhill thrills that include cornering and descending through the trees. The similarities pretty much end there though since the physiology of the two are quite different.
Cycling is a concentric movement of the muscles (lengthening), bodyweight is supported by the bike and generally longer duration cardio exercise.
Skiing is an eccentric movement of the muscle (shortening), fully weight bearing on lower-body joints with significant force being created and on average, 90 second bursts of all-out skiing.
This is exactly why preparing your body for the upcoming season should take place over several months. Starting slow is key, especially in preparation for the ski season. The body needs to develop tissue tolerance for the amount of force created on the joints.
You can start to build a base at home with bodyweight squats, lunges, and core exercises. After your initial adaptation period (1-3 weeks), start to incorporate these movements with jumping and low weights in your hands, then start to hold the weights above your head. The bonus of using overhead weights is it will also stabilize your core muscles which will only improve your skiing! If bodyweight squats and lunges are uncomfortable to begin with, you can shorten your range of motion to a smaller movement. As you get stronger, you will be able to add more reps, add more weight or even add in some interval sprints.
Year-round strength training with weights (or bands) is a huge benefit to all mountain sports because it combines both the eccentric and concentric movements. It also helps women maintain muscle mass and bone density. Adding a few simple exercises specific to skiing 8-12 weeks before ski season will give you the ability to jump on your skis the first day of the season and feel like you stopped skiing!
Plan an early season review with your friends and your favorite coach. Review the fundamentals with a trained eye to give you feedback on your movement patterns and to give you cues to use the rest of the season. This will lead to a full winter of hard charging and fun!
If you have an injury or significant one-sided weakness, seek advice from a physical therapist or sports medicine specialist.
Jen is a strength and conditioning coach for female mountain athletes, mountain bike skills coach and ski instructor. Contact her for personalized training plans: 801-597-9094