I’ve just cut the grass for the fifth time, the thermostat says its 80 degrees inside my house, and the skiing’s all gone to sun cups and mashers. It appears that summer has arrived again, which means it’s time to retire the Rapture, put up the Primary, stow the Spar, tap-out the Trigger and cash in the Cash, at least ’til October rolls back around.
Last time it was warm out, I shared my favorite ski-specific workouts for turning dad-bod to rad-bod. But honestly, there are better choices than pumping reps in the gym to get your fitness level amped for those first flakes.
Thus, I here present the (un)official Folsom Custom Skis Guide To Summer Fitness Activities! (Editor’s Note: Doug’s opinions do not represent the beliefs or endorsement of Folsom Skis Staff on the whole; we actually think he’s kind of a kook; in the best way.)
As you consider how you plan to stay ski-fit while it’s hot out, consult this list, presented in order of increasing awesomeness…
There’s a group of skiers—specifically skiers from Utah, mostly—who will tell you that trail running at your Zone 2 heart rate is the single best skiing-specific workout you can do. Running burns calories. It acclimates your cardiovascular system to elevation and steady aerobic work. It mimics exactly the sort of effort necessary in the skin track, and tones your leg muscles with a motion very similar to skinning (say, on a full-carbon Primary 104).
These skiers are nuts, and they are wrong. If you’re really eager to get outside in summer and have a bad time, while cultivating long-lasting, recurrent-use injuries that sideline your whole ski season, then by all means get pounding that pavement!
Runners are crazy; I simply don’t get it.
Pros: Inexpensive. Can do from your house. And I guess those Utah folks’ claims of physical benefits have to come from somewhere, right?
Cons: Boring. Shin splints.
It’s my understanding that a motivated individual can climb mountains just as well in summer as they can in winter. This is hearsay I’m relating; I have not tried it myself. I mean, you’d have to walk back down that mountain, right?
I don’t know, man. Sounds suspicious. I suppose you could strap your Spar Turbos on your pack, head out in search of some far-flung patch of rotten snow, and call it a “training expedition.” But you’d mostly still be just, like, walking.
Pros: Great way to get some beta for those winter couloirs. Your dog loves it. Pretty flowers.
Cons: All the effort of ski mountaineering with minimal skiing.
“That was a really super set, team! You are all so strong! Let’s take a quick Social Media break and then we’ll hit another one! Yeeeeah!!”
Pros: Does appear to produce strength and body awareness, just what you want for hill banging at the resort. Pumped up abs look great on The Gram.
Cons: Strong desire to talk about CrossFit in all social settings. Bros.
Now that everybody and their aunties are free-soloing Half Dome, it’s fair to say that this once-niche pastime of secretive, crag-hardened fitness freaks is now as much of a free for all as a snowy Saturday morning on Berthoud Pass. Which is not to presume that there’s always some gaper above ya kicking down boulders while you’re hanging by your fingertips from a ludicrous overhang. Only that there may be a queue to climb any and every route at the Rock Gym.
Climbing has always seemed as much of a “social thing” as an “athletic thing,” which maybe is what you’re looking for in a summer activity. As more of the “lone-wolf-type”, my experiences with rock climbing are limited, but god damn it looks like some gnarly fun.
Pros: Entire body workout. Like Happy Hour but with exercise. Often equal gender ratio, with the chicks usually being far more skilled than the dudes. Teaches rope skills / knowledge, which translates somewhat to ski mountaineering.
Cons: Skiing is not an upper-body intensive sport, so limited applicability. Everybody wants your beta. Rope burn.
Patience is one of the most important attributes in skiing. At least if you wanna ski inbounds with more than 2” of fresh in Colorado. Practice those all important staying-warm-and-not-having-a-psychotic-episode-in-the-lift-line skills by standing alone in some river while doing pretty much nothing. And, patience in the backcountry exists too. Waiting out dangerous snow conditions, freeze-thaw cycles in the spring… This one may not check the physical box, but rather than mental aspect of “staying in ski shape”.
Pros: Fish are quite pretty when you get one. Plus that “zen” thing folks who like fishing talk about (almost as much as CrossFit bros talk about CrossFit).
Cons: Lots of gear required. Hooks can be dangerous for clumsy people (like myself). Trout remind me of shiny, aquatic rats.
I am a person who loves bicycles, but as recently as last September, friends witnessed me calling road bikers funny names. Poetic justice: got myself a road bike soon after. Hypocrisy is an inevitable, fundamental element of contemporary culture.
Road biking is terrible. All I want to do is go faster, push harder, hurt more, and the ability to do so is literally endless. Then I get home and spend an hour looking at heart rate data, power meter data, FTP, TSS, Vo2, intensity factor, and so on. I’m totally ashamed; ultimate Dork Mode; nothing cool about it.
But then skin track season arrived. I cut over a third off my usual ascent times, and gosh darn it, #skiuphill felt downright easy! So there’s that.
Pros: Fast is Fun. Road bike style is entirely inspired by fashions from Back To The Future II. Meticulously quantified fitness gains.
Cons: Expensive. Group rides attended frequently by divorced attorneys and physicians in their early 50’s. Cars are real, and they hate you.
The quintessential summer activity. Enjoy liberally.
Pros: Tank tops. Funny aprons. Meat. Alcohol. The single best activity to use a Folsom shotski for!
Cons: Will definitely make you #skiuphill slower if not combined with one of the other activities. But downhill, well…
Flexibility and body-proprioception are underrated by mountain athletes. Yoga is the shortcut to both of these. I like it in the hot room, with the breathing, the sweat, and everybody working out together in their underwear. But that’s just me…
Pros: Injury prevention. Unlock your body; open your mind; free your soul(?). Very co-ed. Can be done indoors or outdoors.
Cons: Extremely difficult in the beginning. Farting in a room full of strangers. And how nervous are you about the amount of sweat you produce when it’s 102 degrees?
A buddy of mine suggested this a few weeks ago. I’d played a little in high school, and when we finally got to it, my friend totally schooled me. But it was awesome. I cannot believe how hard I worked. As hard as skiing TRN TEKs bell to bell without crashing: fully anaerobic, dynamic strength, agility, all the stuff you want for full-tilt shredding. Highly recommended.
Pros: Epic workout. Enormously fun. Bring your vintage high tops!
Cons: I was sore for a week after the first time. Potential for blown-out knees seems perilously high.
If you ask me—and somebody did or I wouldn’t be writing this blog—mountain biking is the undisputed King Of Summer Activities. Every day on the trail is like a boot-top pow day. Some days are as good as knee-deep. The cardio, the strength, the adrenaline. Moving dynamically through wild space at speed. Big air. Cool gear. No, I never quite get that same high as when I’m shredding over-the-head-blower, but it’s as darn close as I can get when it’s hot out. I love mountain biking, and it makes me a better skier.
Pros: Unimpeachably rad. Both climbing and chairlift accessible.
Cons: High learning curve = gnarly injury potential. Expensive. Bros.
This post was written by Doug Mock, Folsom’s resident vegetarian and fitness freak. Follow his regiment further on Instagram here. Are there other ways to get fit in summer that we missed? Drop a comment and let us know!