4 week squat exercises to get ready for ski seasonWritten by Andi Vendlinski
Hello everyone! If you’re a runner and you live up in the Keweenaw Peninsula, then you are probably also a cross country skier. Am I right? If you are, then you are already fully aware of the benefits that runners get from cross training with XC skiing in the winter. There’s just simply nothing like it. It helps us get outdoors, be active, and enjoy the beauty of this place we call home. AND it certainly breaks up the monotony of running all year long, but still gives the health and fitness benefits that running provides. Here’s a great link to an article which explains a little more eloquently how XC skiing can help runners excel: Skiing. And here’s another that cites specific reasons why skiing is a great cross training sport for runners: cross training.
So you may have figured out by now that our December challenge will have something to do with getting prepared for ski season. It will be upon us before we know it! There are two key leg exercises that will help when it comes to being ready for skiing, and those are squats and balance exercises. This month, however, we’ll structure the four exercises differently than last month, so that instead of passing out of a level, we’ll just stick with an exercise for the whole first week trying to improve each day. The subsequent weeks will get harder and harder, so that by the end of the four weeks, our legs will be in great shape to start the ski season. Here are the four exercises:
Week One: Standard two-leg squat alternating with a side squat. To do the standard squat, stand with your feet hip width apart, bend your knees down to a 90 degree angle, keeping your back straight while sticking your butt back as if you’re going to sit on a chair. Stand back up straight, squeezing your butt muscles while you do so. For the side squat, start with your feet hip width apart. Then move your right foot out to the side and get into a wide stance. Bend your right knee and squat to the side in a very similar way to the standard squat. In case you need a visual, the side squat is this video’s first exercise. Try to work up to 2 (or 3) sets of 20 by the end of the first week. If you need a harder variation, try to lift up your straight leg on the side squat once your other leg reaches it’s final point in the squat.
Week Two: One leg standard squat alternating with a side squat To do the one leg standard squat, stand in front of a chair. Raise one foot slightly in front of you. Balancing on one leg, sit back as if you are going to sit down in the chair, touch it lightly with your bum, and then stand up again. If you need an easier variation, go ahead and sit down in that chair for a moment. Alternate this squat with a side squat like we did in week one. Try to work up to 2 (or 3) sets of 20 by the end of the second week.
Week Three: Skater jump squat. It is much easier to understand how to do this squat if you watch a demonstration. This is the same video as before, but if you go forward to the 2:45 position you’ll get a great explanation of the skater jump squat. This squat is very similar to what the actual leg motions are while skate skiing, with the exception of crossing the one leg behind so much. But you will definitely get ready for ski season with this one! Try to work up to 3 sets of 20 by the end of the third week.
Week Four: Hill bounding and Classic leg/arm swing for balance. For hill bounding, find yourself a nice, steep hill outside, and while pretending to pole, bound or jump up the hill one foot at a time. This exercise mimics classic skiing more, but it will still be of benefit for a skate skier. You can also change the exercise to bound side to side while still climbing the hill and double pole to better mimic the skate ski form. Here’s a video of some folks training using classic style ski bounding. They use poles in the video, but it’s not necessary. However, a hill is. If you just can’t get outside, continue with the skater jump squat from week three. For the classic leg/arm swing, stand on one foot and swing the other leg back and forth while also swinging your arms as if you were using poles (opposite arm/leg). If you’d like to see a demonstration, please click this link and scroll down to the bottom of the videos. The classic leg/arm swing starts at about the 35 second mark. While this exercise is more geared toward classic skiing, it will still be a helpful balance exercise for skate skiing as well. Try to work up to 3 sets of 20 for each exercise.
If you would like some more information about how doing squats can improve your running, please click on this link.
And for more reading on how classic skiing is like running, please click here.
That’s it! Enjoy the challenge, and be sure to check in on Facebook to let us know how it’s going! And maybe now we should do a snow dance so we’ll actually be able to apply all the strength we’ll gain! Come on snow!!!