7 Leg Strengthening Exercises for Skiing

ski lift with skis

ski lift with skis

It's beginning to look a lot like The Ski Season!!!! Which means its time to start prepping those legs ready for the slopes! There is nothing worse than getting out onto the slopes and not feeling strong enough, or worse still injuring yourself (like me!) So, I have pulled together 7 Leg Strengthening exercises to get your legs ready for skiing! You can also use these if you are looking to strengthen your legs in general, they are all great exercises! 

Unfortunately, a number of years ago I completely snapped my cruciate ligament skiing, had the surgery, did the rehab and built my leg back to strength. Since then, I have had a second surgery, and have also managed to stretch my graft too. So for me, strong legs and muscles are extremely important in my day to day life, and more so when it comes to skiing to ensure I don’t repeat injure myself.

Last year I was lucky enough to go on two skiing trips, so wanted to make sure my legs and knees were in tip top condition and below are the exercises I used to do this.

Before we go any further, I need to say, I have put these exercises together from having personal trainers work with me and also through my own research, I am not an accredited personal trainer. These are what I have found works for me! I also do a lot of other strength work on my legs, these exercises were specifically for skiing, so you don't have to do them all, but could just add a few into your routine.

Secondly, I also need to add, if you are doing a lot of work on your legs you need to make sure you do a lot of stretching!! I have quite tight calves and hamstrings so also spend a lot of time stretching out before and after my workouts. I would also recommend using a foam roller, these are great for easing out the muscles.

So, let's begin - firstly the big thing I learnt about prepping my legs for skiing - it's not just about strength, just because you can squat a big weight doesn’t mean your legs or knees will be fine! Cruciate ligament tears are really common in skiing because of the twisting position of the knees whilst skiing. So these exercises are a mix of strength and also getting those little muscles working and firing.
Another big pointer which I, unfortunately, learnt the hard way - train your legs separately. Most people are naturally stronger on one side than the other, if like me, you’ve also got an injury to boot, your body naturally compensates for this. For me, this meant that one of my legs ended up a bit thinner than the other, when exercising I was taking more weight on my uninjured leg without realising!

It's completely up to you how you train, I personally enjoy hiit training with a mix of cardio and weights. I will have two exercises, one weight and one cardio and alternate. 40sec of the weights, 20sec rest, followed by 40sec of the cardio exercise, 20sec rest and I repeat 3 times round. For the weights, I lift something on the heavy side that allows me to get in about 12-15 reps ave. In total I have 6 different stations, so that's 12 different exercises in total. I’ve tried lots of different ways of training and found this to be my favourite as it keeps me motivated.

1. Single Leg Press
Now normally you use this as a double leg - but don’t. Use this single leg. Train each leg individually, I like to train in HIIT so will do as many as I can in 40 seconds and I do this 3 times round, training with a straight foot, foot facing out, and then in - this trains all your different quad muscles and these will help to stabilise your knee from moving side to side. I take the chair as close to the pad as it will go to ensure I get the biggest range of movement, ensuring I break the 90 degree angle on the knee bend.

2. Deadlifts
These are one of my fave exercises and are great for the hamstrings and bum, plus is a really good one for the back.

3. Ladder runs
As mentioned before I like to HIIT train - so I will mix in this with
deadlifts (for example) - so 40 secs of deadlifts - 20 sec rest and then 40 secs of ladder runs - 3 times round. Ladder runs are great as they get those little muscles firing that help stabilise your knee and also get your responses quicker. If like me you have had your cruciate ligament replaced, you have to re-learn to balance, which at first, is impossible!! This exercise is great for balance and agility.

4. Single leg sit down
This is a great one to see your strength and balance improving - you basically sit down slowly on one leg onto a ply box - as you get better you make the box lower, and you can also add weight. Make sure you really focus on your knee position so that it isn’t falling inwards.

5. Jump over the box
Again this is another HIIT one - you can use either a box or a soft bag - jumping over with both legs together as many times as you can in 40 seconds. Make sure of your positioning whilst jumping and also absorb the impact of the jumps with the legs through squatting into it, this will also help with your ankle flex too. 

6. One leg hip lift on a medicine ball
This one takes a bit of getting used too! It's great for the bum, hamstrings and core.

7. One arm one leg deadlift 
It sounds mental, but its great, just make sure you get your technique right! Be sure not to twist your knee on this one and really engage your core!

Thanks for reading, and would love to know if you give any of these a go!!

If you love skiing, make sure you check out our interview with Olympic Freestyle Skier Rowan Cheshire - CLICK HERE