February 06, 2006

The pre trip exercise program worked

My recent trip back to Megève was a great success by pretty much all the measures that I'd set. The only downside is that I now have a serious case of "run away to the circus" syndrome; being back is crap and I'd much rather be earning peanuts whilst skiing every day and guiding people around the pistes in Megève.

One of the most successful parts of the trip was my improved fitness. We skied a lot last season, 85 days or so, and when we got back we both started going to the gym regularly to a) keep the fitness that we'd developed and b) counter the end of season "eating more than skiing" feeling. We both used a personal trainer to set us ski related programs and this really seemed to pay off this time around.

My gym program focused mainly on my legs, 'core' stability , flexibility and balance. The program was fairly full on, each time we revised it it got longer and at the end I was doing around 2.5 hrs in the gym, twice to three times a week. Most unlike me.

Some highlights from the workout are as follows:

  • The kneeling on the swiss ball whilst holding the arms in a forward, ski, position and rocking from side to side using the knees exercise (there must be a more concise name for that!) really helped me to get my arms used to being in a better, more forward position (I tended to drop them low when I wasn't paying attention and swing them too much when on difficult terrain). The balancing and rolling of the ball whilst keeping a quiet upper body really helped to decouple my upper body from my lower body and got me to use my core to keep my upper body nice and stable. There's a baby version of this exercise here; my version involves you getting balanced and then lifting your arms up as if you were holding your poles and then imagining that you're doing a bump run or short swings with your skis and flicking the ball around with your knees whilst not falling off...
  • The dumbell raise lunges worked quite well for conditioning the legs and muscle memory for telemark turns. The exercise involves switching from one lunge to the next whilst performing what can be best described as a dumbell bicep curl with the opposite arm to the leg that is forward whilst twisting the upper body to face "down hill", i.e. across the forward leg. The lunges were slightly too long so my tele turns initially had my trailing leg too far behind but I managed to tighten my stance up eventually.
  • The "twin bosu ball ski jump" exercise (stand in a ski stance, jump left onto a bosu, jump back to centre on the floor, jump right onto a bosu, repeat) seemed to work well as training for the bumps. The key thing with this one was realising that to land with immediate stability on the bosu required that the landing is "stomped", i.e. you don't just jump onto the bosu you jump above it and then land by extending down with your feet to stomp the landing. I seemed to find it easier to get my feet around in the bumps because I was used to pulling them up and pressuring them down in quick succession and again it helped to build my quads and to work the smaller muscles required to stabilise during the bosu portions of the exercise. You can see a version of this (with poles!) in the picture halfway down this page.
  • Depth jumping. This really seemed to help me regain a full range of motion in my right knee. I had a bit of a fall in December 2004 and twanged my knee. Although I skied fine all of last season the knee was still a little tight and still clicked. By the time we left for Megève this year that was all fixed. Initially my depth jumping was a little unbalanced, the right knee pulling to one side slightly, by the end of the training I was even and equally powerful; of course the other exercises and stretching helped too!
  • Plyometrics - my latest program has a set of plyometric exercises as the main focus. The set consists of sets of squats, lunges with a cross body medicine ball chop, squat and jump with a medicine ball and tele style switch lunges. Followed by a short session of fast walking to rest the legs. The whole sequence is then repeated as many times as possible (which, for me, is not that many, I was up to 4 by the time the trip started). This seemed to build both endurance and explosive power.
All in all I feel that the work I did out of season really paid off. I skied hard for 13 days with lots more "non stop, top to bottom" runs than I'd normally manage and never felt like I'd used all that my legs could give me (except after the randonée...). The core stability work really helped me keep my upper body still; I could still do with controlling my arms a little more but that's something to aim for for the next trip. Decoupling the upper body from the lower body by creating a "space" beneath your ribs by working your core, tipping your pelvis forward and raising your chest really lets your legs just get on with it and allows much greater freedom of movement from the ball joints in your hips. Just holding my arms in more correct a "ski" position whilst balancing on the ball moved my "standard" resting arm position towards a more correct position without me having to think about it too much...

Now the only problem is that I know I can ski all day, every day and I find that that's what I'd actually prefer to be doing... Oh dear, what have I unleashed.


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Posted by Len at February 6, 2006 03:26 PM | Categories: General , Out of Season - Ski Fit
Comments

I adjusted my dumbell lunges today so that the stance is a telemark turn stance rather than the longer lunge which left me with a trailing leg. It was pretty easy and felt comfortable. The actual lunge in this possition seems to work slightly different parts of the muscles, which, I suppose, is good...

Posted by: Len at February 10, 2006 08:25 PM
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