A backcountry enthusiast, fitness guru, and Folsom athlete, Doug Mock knows much more about summer ski fitness than most. The following are 10 exercises that when done in sequence, will have you skiing bell-to-bell from the get go this season…
As I look out my back window here in August, the yard is going gangbusters: the apple tree is almost ready to pick, crazy hibiscus flowers, tomatoes big as basketballs. And I can’t help but visualize this summer’s bounty completely buried in a couple feet of fresh, soft, blower pow, my Rapture or Primary slicing turns in deep, the only track in sight… If you too are finding yourself overwhelmed by what ol’ Saint Warren used to call “fluffy white powder dreams,” and the stoke for slashing your signature into some huge, untracked face is growing faster than a watermelon in the Colorado sun, then bro, I got news: it’s time to drop the Quarantine 15 [lbs] and get those ski legs on.
Keeping up with the “First Chair, Last Call Crew” doesn’t just happen on its own. Whether you’re stoked to crush 50k of corduroy a day or STRAVA your regular 10k of climbing in the backcountry, you’re gonna need some strength. As Folsom’s resident backcountry guru/fitness nut, I’m here to offer a little workout advice for these last few months before it comes time to scrape the storage wax off the bases and start making turns like these…
We’ve put together a short workout that’s an awesome place to start your ski season fitness plan. The exercises below are hugely versatile. We recommend doing three sets of 10, 12, or 30, taking time to catch your breath in between. Better still, I like to do them as a circuit: three sets of each done to the max for a minute, with 20 seconds of rest between each set, which makes for a sweet 45 minute burn. If you can make it happen 3 times/week, trust me, it’ll be worth your while once the snow starts flying.
With gym closures in effect and health concerns at an all-time high, this workout is meant to be done easily at home. You can dust off the old dumbbells in the garage, fill a couple of gallon jugs with water, or skip weights all together; your body weight is definitely enough to make these workouts pop. I like to use light weights and focus on quick, explosive reps. The goal here is not necessarily to get that summer beach bod you had at age 17, rather when you hit that first 2 PM rope drop and your buddies are all huffing and puffing, those turns are all yours.
1.) Basic Squat
Put your feet hips’ width apart, weight in your heels, and pull in your belly to keep your back straight. Bend your knees to 90 degrees, then stand up again. You can hold weights together in front of your chest, rest them on your shoulders, or do a biceps curl every time you stand up. Simple, terrible, and utterly necessary. There is no other movement that can make you a stronger skier.
Core stability is often the difference between, “Whoa, that was sick!” and, “Whoa, what just happened?!” Plank is the single best exercise to feel your six-pack working, even if you maybe can’t quite see it yet.
Place your hands on the floor shoulder width apart. Extend your legs behind you so you’re long like, yup, a plank. Engage every muscle in your whole body, especially your abs, and visualize a huge bowl of perfectly pitched snow. Shred your favorite Folsom shape down the bowl in your imagination til the minute is up.
I’ll be the first to tell you that telemarking is stupid, and Lordy knows I’m an authority. But those old hippies all have some seriously strong quads.
Adopt the lunge position, right leg forward, with your front knee bent directly over your ankle and your back leg mostly straight. Ready? Jump-switch so the left leg is forward, just like making turns on silly, floppy heel bindings.
4.) Basic Crunch
Remember that kid who would always fart doing crunches in gym class? That was me; being vegetarian is a constant challenge. But if you’re crunching hard enough to fart, you’re definitely crunching hard enough to shred.
Butt on the ground, knees bent, feet on the floor, hands behind your head. Don’t just “sit up,” but squeeze your core hard enough to roll your spine, then shoulders, off the ground. Exhale while squeezing.
5.) Dead Lift
Your hamstrings and lower back do more of the heavy lifting when driving a ski than you’ll ever know, given that it’s always the quads that are screaming at the end of the day. Show your back-body some love.
With feet hip-width and a gentle flex in the knees, bend over at the waist. This is the starting point. Keeping the legs nearly straight, raise the torso upward ’til you’re standing straight. Lower down, rise up, breathe out while rising.
6.) Russian Twist
Ever marvel at the way pro mogul skiers can pivot their whole lower body while keeping their shoulders in the fall line? Strong oblique muscles are the source of this pivot. Everyone loves a good zipper-line, so let’s work the side body.
Find the top of a sit up, with your hands / weights together in front of your chest and your feet on the ground. Twist your torso to the right, return to center, then twist left. Fast or slow doesn’t matter, just rock it out.
7.) Wall Sit
I remember holding a wall sit for five minutes at the age of 12 after shooting spit-balls at hockey camp. Now we’re old, so you only have to do 3 minutes, with breaks! So shut up and get on the wall.
With your back against a strong, flat surface, adopt the position described above as the bottom of a squat. Just sit there; if you squeeze your abs, I’ll bet you can make beer dribble out of them.
Every iconic front flip starts with that glorious Superman extension, especially when the flip in unintentional and caused by a double-ejection. Are you stronger than Jerry? Let’s find out.
Lay down on your belly and extend your arms forward. Lift up everything you can and hold. If you can lift your belly up, you probably have abilities that are way cooler than powder skiing.
9.) Frog Squat
Adductors and abductors: can you remember which is which? Doesn’t matter, all you gotta know is strong inner and outer thighs make strong skiers.
With your feet a bit wider than hips width, turn your toes outward to like 2 and 10 o’clock. Squat low, stand up, repeat. If you really want to work it, this is an excellent place to add a shoulder press or triceps extension every time you stand. If your legs aren’t on fire, add weight or move faster. If your legs are on fire, quit your whining, you’re doing it right.
Let’s put it all together in the least fun way possible! Legs, chest, back, core, plus cardio and an explosive plyometric. When that first seriously deep day comes and you cannot get enough, you can remember me and say, “Man, I hate that guy.”
Start from your plank. Jump the legs forward to the bottom of a squat. Imagine you’re aiming for maximum amplitude on a huge cliff huck and explode upward, jumping as high as you possibly can. Stomp the landing, jump back to plank. You can do a push up here if you want, or just jump right back to the bottom of the squat and explode again. If you hurl, you’re going hard enough; if not, go harder and you’ll get there. I promise.
EXTRA CREDIT: Bicep Curls
Place upper arm on table, bar, or just hold in front of you. Engage biceps muscle until frosty beverage reaches lips. In this situation, I’d choose a branch-chain-amino-acid recovery drink, but if you don’t have that, well, I’m sure you’ll think of something. Those late-day laps on the Mahogany Ridge require their own sort of training if you want to keep up with the real pros. As I said, “First Chair, Last Call” requires a commitment that very few truly possess, but I know you can do it!
Of course, all this hard work in the pre-season will be totally worthless on your REI Superstar skis. Since you’re now serious about your conditioning, it’s time to get serious about your skis. Fill out a Custom Ski Inquiry to get in touch with Folsom’s expert ski designers to get on the right skis to match your height, weight, level of fitness, skiing style, and more. No matter what this season has in store, Folsom has a custom ski answer for you.
Follow along with Doug’s adventures via his Instagram here, you can scroll through his posts daydreaming of winter while you do you wall sits…