Getting in Shape for Skiing (Alpine Skiing, That Is) –

A couple of winters ago, I was going to get into shape for skiing.  I was not only going to get “into shape” but I was going to get “into great shape.”  My kids were suddenly old enough and fast enough that I was in danger of being left behind if I needed to stop to rest my quads or catch a breath.  And, I certainly never want to blow out a knee.The first day of ski season arrived and I was in terrible shape. I had spent the fall running.  Cardio-wise, I was super strong.  My quads, however, were like jelly.  I was in great shape — for running.

This year, wanting to do better and avoid the jelly quads, I contacted Bryan Whitesides, a physical therapist with SOAR Physical therapy in Grand Junction, Colorado. Bryan is first and foremost a runner.  He and his wife, Leanne, have two websites,, and, which are full of great information and links to running resources.  But he also skis and a large part of his PT practice is with athletes and others with orthopedic injuries.  I figured he would be the guy to ask, “How do I get in shape for ski season?”

First, Bryan confirmed what I should have known.  Every sport is different and uses different muscles. Yes, you want to be in good cardio shape, but you also need to tone and strengthen the specific leg muscles you’ll be using for skiing.  So, here is it…… (drumroll, please)……

The Brave Ski Mom (BSM) 15 Minute Skiing Workout

Equipment Needed: Large exercise ball found at the gym or at retailers such as Target or online at for less than $20.

1. Ball Wall Squats.  Starting with your feet shoulder-width apart, place the ball low on your back (really, it starts on your butt).  Roll down the wall, squatting until your knees are between 60 and 90 degrees (depending on how they feel about squatting).  Keep your back straight and vertical.  Roll back up the wall. Repeat 30 times.  This will work your gluteals and quads.

Ball Wall Squat

2.  One Leg Ball Wall Squats.  Starting just as you did with the Ball Wall Squats, lift one leg off the floor and keep it suspended as you squat and come back up.  Repeat 15 times with each leg.

Ball Wall Squat on one leg

3.  Plank Ball Rotation.  This one is for your abs.  Lie on the ball.  Walk your hands out in front of you until your calves and feet are on the ball.  You should keep your arms straight and be in a plank position.  Your legs should be spread a bit less than hip-width apart on the ball.  Twisting from your abdomen, rotate the ball from side-to-side.  Repeat 5-10 times per side.  To finish, walk your hands back toward the ball, allowing your legs to slide off the end of the ball.

Rotate one way….
…and then the other.

Click here for a video showing how this one is done.

4.  Hamstring Bridges.  This one is for your low back, gluteals and hamstrings. Lie on your back with your feet on the exercise ball.

Step One

Lift your bottom off of the floor, so that you are in a “plank” sort of position.  Using your feet, roll the ball back toward you, bending your knees and lifting yourself higher off of the ground.

Step Two.

Roll the ball back away from you and repeat 15 times.

Now, you’ll do the same exercise but using one leg at a time.  Start in the same position and this time, roll the ball back toward you using one leg.  Repeat 7-10 times with each leg.

A Hamstring Bridge using one leg.

Optimally, you want to do this workout 2-3 times per week, while keeping up your cardio training through the fall and into winter.  Rather than worrying about keeping up with the kids, you’ll be unstoppable!  They’ll thank you and so will your knees.

~Brave Ski Mom

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Featured Image Courtesy of Ski Colorado and Jack Dempsey Photography

Mountain Lodge Telluride in the Summer