For us self powered skiers, cardio capacity is the most important aspect of physical fitness. Even so, when it comes time to go downhill, specific core and leg strengths come into play that are hard to develop without doing a bunch of skiing itself, or else spending time in crafted workouts heavy on specificity. Before the season begins, I do okay if I get in plenty of cross training between bicycle riding, hiking, and swimming. But with rainy weather and no pool membership (my situation a few days ago, for example), where do you find the specificity?
Video DVD to the rescue — in this case “Ski Stronger, The Skier’s Workout.” Published this year, “Skier’s Workout” provides a do-it-yourself workout that requires nothing more than a set of dumbells, a fitness ball, and self discipline. The workout lasts about fifty minutes (depending on your warmup and cooldown). It targets core and leg strength, and if done with enthusiasm yields cardio as well (though uphillers will still want things like multi-hour bicycle rides to keep that engine lean.)
Over the past week Lisa and I pushed the furniture away and sampled a few tastes of “The Skier’s Workout.” We found it to not only be remarkably simple and well designed, but also easily scaled for favoring injuries or simply easing into the program. For example, you can do all the exercises with lightweight or no dumbells. More, since you’re not in a room full of world class bodies, you’ll feel no peer pressure when you sit out a few reps or modify a move to favor a creaky joint. Conversely, when it’s time to ramp things up, increase the speed of the reps or use a heavier dumbell set. If you’re feeling gutsy, try to outdo freeskier Craig Garbiel’s moves as he does the demo. Or, if the going gets too rough you can fantasize making synchronized powder turns with the other demonstrator, fitness trainer Cathrine Betts.
While you’re following along, trainer Scott Adams explains each exercise in-depth. He offers pointers, uses examples with the people he’s working with in the presentation. Overall, you feel like you’re getting the most for your time.
One small criticism: In my opinion a ski workout DVD could have more cutaways to shots of skiers ripping in perfect form. “Ski Stronger” does this occasionally, but once you’ve done the workout a few times you’re ready for more imagery that goes beyond the two demonstrators. Visualization is a known way to enhance athletic prowess, so a bit more of that would be value added.
You do get one bonus. In addition to the main workout the “Ski Stronger” DVD includes an “Express Core Workout” for people with limited time and equipment, say, when you’re traveling. A detailed exercise index rounds things out, providing nuanced instructions so you’ll get the most from your time (important, when you don’t have a personal trainer watching you).
In all, thumbs up from WildSnow.com. “Skier’s Workout” is something we’re already putting to good use.
Skier’s Workout is available as download or DVD ship.
WildSnow.com publisher emeritus and founder Lou (Louis Dawson) has a 50+ years career in climbing, backcountry skiing and ski mountaineering. He was the first person in history to ski down all 54 Colorado 14,000-foot peaks, has authored numerous books about about backcountry skiing, and has skied from the summit of Denali in Alaska, North America’s highest mountain.