Emily Sarsfield, GB’s No.1 Ski Cross athlete, spends hours in the gym each week preparing for her sport with a variation of strength, cardio, power, plyometrics and balance.
Whilst in the UK, she trains out of BXR gym with Strength and Conditioning experts Doug Tannahill and James Collins.
We managed to catch up with the three of them for some tips and a few exercises to help prepare you for the slopes.
Doug an osteopath explains how he sees a lot of skiing injuries over the season, some of them not particularly nice! “The risks of the injuries could be reduced greatly if people prepared their body ready for the different forces that they will encounter on the slopes and build a good level of strength endurance.”
The fitter you are the more you will enjoy the mountain, so give yourself a good period to get ski fit, and you will still have the energy to dance on the tables in the Après bar after a full day on the slopes!
The guidelines below are a good starting point to get your legs and core robust for your trip to the mountains.
Exercise 1 – Squat
- The Squat is a marvelously good exercise for developing lower body strength and endurance. It places a great amount of demand on both the quadriceps (quad), hamstring and glute muscle groups, allowing you to absorb forces efficiently while skiing.
- You will probably feel this exercise a lot more in your Quads than anywhere else but rest assured that the hamstrings are really doing their bit, contracting hard to control the hip and the knee.
- Start standing and lower to a comfortable range, make sure you sit the bum backwards. Don’t let the knees come over the toes.
- Try 4 sets or 15 squats at bodyweight to start then add load.
Exercise 2 – Hamstring Bridge
- The hamstrings are pivotal in controlling forces at the knee, so very important to protect the knees from injury.
- A very common skiing injury that you may have heard of is the dreaded ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) strain / rupture. This ligament prevents forward translation of the lower leg from the upper leg. Because of the hamstrings attachments, they support the ACL which helps decrease the chances of it becoming injured.
- The bridge is a very simple exercise that you can perform with your feet on the sofa or a chair.
- Ensure you tuck your bum under, trying to create a straight line from knees to shoulders
- Try 3 sets of 12 bridges, increase gradually to 20 reps each set
Exercise 3 – Lateral Lunge
- The lateral lunge directly strengthens you in the frontal (side to side) plane.
- As skiing involves a lot of side to side movements, it is pertinent to include one that works in a similar way.
- As this is arguably a more complex movement as it involves absorbing the force on one leg, take your time developing the movement pattern and go deeper as you feel more comfortable and controlled.
- Start standing with feet shoulder width apart and lunge out to the side then return to standing. Remember to focus on knee control and push the bum backwards like the squat.
- Try 3 sets of 8 lunges on each side body weight before you add load
Exercise 4 – Side Plank with Hip Dip
- The core is vital for creating stiffness in the trunk and allowing good force transfer from leg to leg.
- The dip adds a dynamic element to the exercise, which is helpful to keep you focused and more engaged with the exercise.
- Keep a straight line with the body from the head to the feet, tensing the glutes and the tummy. Don’t rest at the bottom, dip and return to the straight starting position.
- Try 3 sets of 15 dips on each side
Exercise 5 – Banded Palloff press
- As well as the side to side plane, there is also the twisting (or transverse) plane which the trunk has to be competent in generating stiffness. It’s the plane that a lot of people forget about working!
- This exercise is tougher than it looks, tie the band around a solid post, make a large step to the side to create tension, starting with the arms bent in the center of your torso extend the arms straight and back to bent arms slowly with control
- Try 4 sets of 8 reps each side
‘Doug and James offer a highly bespoke strength and conditioning service utilising the cutting edge facilities at BXR London. Their services are supported by the onsite CHHP clinic, offering unparalleled care for individuals looking to hit the slopes.’
Find out more about Emily, Doug & James
GB’s No.1 Ski Cross Athlete
For more ‘Get Ski Fit’ tips and to see how Emily prepares for the slopes check out her Social Media channels: @EmSkiCross
Osteopath at CHHP and Strength & Conditioning coach @BXRLondon
Strength & Conditioning coach @BXRLondon