7 Ways to get a Jump on Your Ski Season Prep

Ski Season PrepEvery year after that first run, you say you’ll be bet­ter pre­pared next year. Every year you put it off; except for this year. This year, you have sev­en ways to get a jump on your prep.

1. Work Those Thighs
Work those thighs (quads). You know they hurt last year; heck they hurt every year. Pret­ty much every car­dio exer­cise works pri­mar­i­ly your quads so you’re in luck — rid­ing a bike, run­ning, walk­ing hills/trails, and yes, ski­ing. So run/ride until you feel that thigh burn. If you can’t get out­side and need to improve your quads fast (like you’ve sched­uled an ear­ly ski trip and need to whip those thighs into shape), squats are your go-to exer­cise. A good mot­to is, “if it burns now, it’ll burn less on the hill.” That said, if you don’t bal­ance your quads, you’ll only put strain on your ACL (one of the ten­dons that holds your knees together).

2. Bal­ance with Ham­strings and Calves
The ham­strings are the mus­cles on the back of your leg and actu­al­ly, they’re much more dif­fi­cult to iso­late than your quads. If you sole­ly work your quads with no bal­ance in your hams, you’ll pull an ACL (MCL if you work just your hams). While calves are easy to iso­late with calve rais­es (think of walk­ing up stairs on your tip­pie toes), iso­lat­ing hams requires a machine that pulls your feet to your butt. Anoth­er way to iso­late your hams is with a med­i­cine ball — lie on your back with the ball toward your neck and lift your butt into the air.

3. Stretch
All this work­ing your legs will require some seri­ous stretch­ing since your new­ly devel­oped mus­cles will be pulling tight­ly on your ACL and MCL ten­dons. If there’s one mus­cle group to stretch, it’s your quads. Stand on one foot and pull your air­borne foot behind you. ACL injuries are one of the most com­mon on the slopes and this is how to help pre­vent it.

4. Core Strength­en­ing
Used to be, the think­ing was to just pre­pare your legs and you’ll be fine, but core-build­ing is just as impor­tant. Build­ing your core not only sup­ports the rest of your body, but also your bal­ance — an attribute that is some­what impor­tant on the slopes. Strength­en­ing your core will keep you from strain­ing in awk­ward posi­tions when off bal­ance — some­thing that will only put more stress on your legs (and ulti­mate­ly, your knees), so in this sense, strength­en­ing your core is a great way to pre­vent injury on your legs.

5. Get the Gear
No mat­ter what shape you are in, if those boards are shot beyond repair, so are your chances of stay­ing un-injured. In Den­ver, the Labor Day week­end kicks off the biggest sales of the year. Between Sports Authority’s, “Sni­a­grab,” and Col­orado Ski and Golf’s, “Trex” sales you should be able to find a scream­ing deal. Both sales fea­ture last year’s mod­els at great­ly reduced prices. Of course, “Great­ly Reduced” is still high­ly expen­sive but there are also ski swaps such as at Lar­son Sports and oth­ers where used gear is a consideration.

6. Accli­mate
Repli­cat­ing high alti­tude dur­ing the dog days of sum­mer isn’t the eas­i­est propo­si­tion — it’s some­what dan­ger­ous and def­i­nite­ly not fun. If you have no shot at build­ing your car­dio at ele­va­tion, one way to force your body to breathe thin­ner air is to take advan­tage of the sum­mer’s heat. On par­tic­u­lar­ly hot and humid days, the air is thin­ner near the ground. While run­ning in heat won’t pro­duce more red blood cells, it will train your body to do more with less (oxy­gen in this case).

7. Dri­ve Prep
If you live on the Front Range of Col­orado, you may want to get ready for the ski-com­mutes you’re about to face.  Try dri­ving from Down­town to Cas­tle Rock at around 5 PM any day dur­ing the work week to loosen up. This still isn’t as bad as I‑70 on a Sun­day head­ing from Sum­mit Coun­ty to Den­ver, but you do want to ease slow­ly into any activ­i­ty, or risk pop­ping a vein.