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Leslie McNabb

A former professional ballet dancer with over 25 years of experience in the health and wellness industry. As a Pilates Instructor (Pilates Mat & Pilates Apparatus) a Restorative Exercise Specialist, and NKT practitioner, I teach others how to be healthy and pain-free.

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Exercises for Skiing

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I'm going skiing for the first time next month. I work out on the weight machines at the gym once or twice a week. Are there other exercises I should do to prepare?


Skiing is a full-body sport that takes strength, flexibility, coordination, balance and endurance. Using the weight machines at the gym will make individual muscle groups strong, and having a strong lower body is a must for this sport. However, the exercises on typical gym machine circuits are usually performed while sitting down. To help you stay on your feet and maneuver down the mountain, consider upgrading your routine to include exercises that work your body while in a standing position. Basic wall sits, squats, lunges and side lunges will help increase your strength, coordination and range of motion while using similar body positions you’ll use while skiing. To round out your fitness regimen, add cardio (ascending and descending stairs is a great conditioner for skiing) plus a flexibility and core routine like Pilates or yoga.

For better strength and coordination on the slopes, try this lower body squat and lunge routine.

wall squatWall Squat

With your back against a wall, walk your feet out in front of you until your legs are bent at a 90 degree angle. Press your back against the wall and pull your abdominals in as you hold the position for up to 1 minute.

Basic Squat with Weight Shift

With feet directly under your hips, your toes forward and your abs pulled in, start to bend your knees and allow your buttocks to move backward in space as if you are about to sit in a chair. Make sure to keep your entire foot on the ground and not let your heels or your toes lift off. Hold the position and see if you can take one foot off the ground without losing your balance. Then, put the foot down and shift to the other leg while still maintaining the squat position.

Basic Squat with Weight Shift 1Basic Squat with Weight Shift

Sliding Split Squat

I use a special gliding disc for this exercise, but you can easily do this exercise by putting a towel under one foot or by wearing socks on a hard, non-carpeted surface.

Start with your left leg straight and your right leg slightly bent with your heal lifted. Slowly start to bend your left leg as you slide your right foot behind you, as if you were about to kneel on your right knee. Go as low as you can without touching the floor and then straighten the left leg as you slide the right foot underneath you. Allow your right arm to come forward as you slide the right foot back and then return the arm to your side as you slide the foot forward. Work up to 10 slides per leg for 3 sets.

Sliding Split Squat 1Sliding Split Squat 2

Sliding Side Lunge

With your right foot either on a sliding apparatus or in a sock, start bending your left knee as you slide your right foot out to the side. Bend forward at the hip to allow for a larger range of motion, but keep your spine straight. Slide the right foot to the side as much as you can while still keeping both heels on the ground and most of your body weight over your left foot. Press back up to a standing position by straightening your left leg and sliding the right foot underneath you. Work up to 10 slides per leg for 3 sets.

Sliding Side Lunge 1Sliding Side Lunge 2

Photographs by Jeffrey Mosier Photography

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