Hitting the slopes this year? Whether you are an experienced or novice skier / snowboarder, you would be wise to make sure you are in adequate shape to prevent any injuries. Priming your leg muscles will prep you for the intense quad and hamstring workouts you will endure; hence the reason we’ve asked Tricia Yap, co-founder of Warrior Academy to share with us three leg workouts to gear us up for ski season! Happy holidays!
1. Split Squat
The split squat targets several muscle groups in your leg to include your hamstrings, glutes and calf muscles. It also works the VMO (Vastus Medialis) which is a knee stabiliser. Your starting position is similar to that of a lunge, with your front foot on the elevated platform, and back foot raised. The reason we elevate the front foot is so that it shortens the range of motion, making it easier for those who have mobility or flexibility issues. If you can achieve the full range of motion correctly, then bring the front foot onto the floor.
Don’t be afraid to drive your front knee forward past your toes (the concept that this is dangerous to the knee joint is a myth in lower body training apparently!) whilst you lower your body down to the floor. Your hamstring needs to touch your calf in order to achieve the full range of motion. Keep your shoulders retracted so your back is straight and chest is up. Repeat on each leg. To begin with, always go with bodyweight first before loading!
2. Front Step Up (or Russian Step Up)
This is another exercise that works the VMO and assists in preventing ACL injuries. The key is to put all your weight onto the working foot which is the one that is on the box. Tilt your hip slightly to ensure the placing of your bodyweight on the front leg, and just let your back leg hang off the box. Start with your front leg in extension, then bend at the knee to ensure that it is tracking in line with the toe. Take your knee over the toe and return to starting position.
We would suggest doing 15-20 reps per leg if you are just using your own bodyweight. To make this harder, you can also adjust the height of the box so a larger range of motion needs to be moved across with, or add weights to make it heavier.
3. Barbell Heel Elevated Back Squat
When you change direction going down the slopes there can be a lot of pressure on your quads and the front of your knees. This exercise ensures that you maintain stability in this position. Whilst the back squat works the glutes, hamstrings, lower back (i.e. posterior chain) and core; elevating the heels helps isolate the quads more.
Place a barbell on your upper back and stand with your feet shoulder-width apart on two weight plates. The set up position will vary between each person as it is largely dependent on flexibility, torso length and hip/leg anatomy, but we would recommend that the stance (how far apart) should be based on comfort. Lower your hips and bend your knees so you are sitting into a squat. Allow your knees to go over toes, pause for a second and then explode back up to starting position pushing through your heels.
A couple of things to note: make sure your neck is in line with your body (don’t look up to the ceiling), keep your body upright, and do the full range of motion (which is literally “ass to grass!”). The last one being of the utmost importance otherwise you won’t reap the full benefits from the movement and it won’t be good for your joints either.