With the seasons changing from hot to cold, our sports and eating habits change with it. We need to adjust our bodies accordingly to adapt to the conditions at hand. One of the most popular winter activities aside from hockey is skiing and snowboarding.
Without a doubt, skiing requires proper nutrition and training in order to get the best possible satisfaction and results on the slopes.
Anyone can strap on a pair of skis and attempt to make it down a hill, but to be able to utilize your skis and hills for all they are worth, you need to prepare ahead of time. The following article will deal with proper training that should be done prior to hitting the slopes!
Obviously the stronger your legs are, the longer you will be able to stay on your skis and on the hill. So building up strength and endurance in the legs is crucial.
Squats are of course the "king" of leg exercises and some deem the king of all exercises. This exercise helps you develop power and strength. The proper way to do this exercise is to rest a barbell on the upper portion of your back, not your neck. Firmly grip the bar with your hands almost twice your shoulder width apart.
Position your feet about shoulder-width apart and your toes should be pointing just a little outward with your knees in the same direction. Keep your back as straight as possible and your chin up, bend your knees and slowly lower your hips straight down until your thighs are parallel to the floor.
Once you reach the bottom position, press the weight up back to the starting position. It is important to not lean forward, and to keep the back as straight as possible. Be sure to use a weight that you can get at least ten reps with.
There are many more workouts located in the Bodybuilding.com workout database. Squats stretch every muscle in the leg and therefore they are theoretically the only exercise you need to do for the legs. However there are more exercises that can be performed to better enhance performance.
The one area in skiing that is truly hit hard, especially when hitting the moguls, is the lower back. Therefore another very important exercise that should be performed is the deadlift. The deadlift works the entire body, however is a difficult exercise to perform properly, detailed below is the how the proper deadlift should be done (taken from bodybuilding exercise database).
Think of a deadlift as a squat, only the bar is in your hands rather than on your back. Approach the loaded barbell and assume a stance about as wide as your own shoulders while gripping the bar such that the inner aspects of your arms are slightly outside of your thighs.
Another way to determine your optimal deadlift foot placement is to jump down from a box which is half your own height and "stick" the landing. Now look at your feet... this will approximate your ideal stance width and degree of foot turn-out. Feet should point straight forward or turned out to a 25-degree angle at most. The best foot angle is one which provides the least amount of hip and knee restriction when you lower the hips in preparation to lift, so don't be afraid to experiment a bit.
The shins should be 2-to-3 inches from the bar and then when you actually bend down and lower your hips in preparation to lift, the shins will touch the bar. Most of the weight will be on the heels of the feet. This facilitates maximal contribution of the glutes and hamstrings. During the ascent, the bar will travel as close to the leg and shins as possible. Ideally, wear cotton sweat pants or track pants with long socks to protect your shins.
A "reverse grip" should be used when deadlifting. This means that one hand will be supinated (palm faces you) and the other pronated (palm facing away). This will help keep the bar in your hand. If grip strength is not one of your training targets, feel free to use wrist straps with a conventional grip. Hold the bar high up on the palm to compensate for any roll of the bar when pulling the weight up. Generally, the grip should start with the index finger and the little finger bordering the knurling in the middle of the bar.
The entire spine should remain neutral, which means you look neither up nor down, but instead, the head follows the body, almost like you're wearing a cervical cast on your neck. It's OK for the head to be slightly up (this tends to improve muscular contraction of the low back muscles) but in all cases, the lift must start with the hips down, the entire spine neutral, and the feet flat on the floor.
As you stand up with the weight, imagine pushing the earth away from you with your feet. When viewed from the side, your hips and shoulders should ascend together; if the hips rise before the shoulders, it means you're using your back rather than your legs. If this happens, reduce the weight until you can perform the lift correctly and add more specific quad-strengthening exercises to your program.
Competitive powerlifters are required to demonstrate control over the weight by standing up and then extending the hips forward in an exaggerated manner. If you're not a competitive lifter, simply stand up with the weight without this exaggerated maneuver. Simply return the bar to the floor, under control, by reversing the technique you used to lift the weight.
Although this exercise is very beneficial, it can be intimidating and difficult for beginners, in which hyperextensions and good-mornings can be performed. The two exercises above work the core better than any abdominal exercise out there. However to ensure the strongest core that you can achieve, crunches, knee-ups, and weighted rope crunches can be performed.
While you don't need to eat like a bodybuilder during the whole year to maximize performance on the hill, it does help. Eating a healthy diet is important regardless of what you are doing, but having the proper diet will increase performance on the slopes. A skier's diet should consist of lean protein, lots of complex carbohydrates and healthy fats.
You should consume about a gram of protein per pound while training and when on the slopes. This is an ideal amount to consume to guarantee optimal recovery and performance.
Carbohydrates should be kept high around workout periods to have enough energy to perform the vigorous exercises needed. When you hit the slopes it is very important to keep the carbohydrates high, and eat every couple of hours to refill glycogen in the body in order to continue high performance. It is important that the day you are going to the hill to eat a fair amount of complex carbohydrates like oats and yams to keep you fueled.
Fats should be used with every meal for a variety of reasons. First they are healthy for the heart and organs, as well as lubricate joints in the body. Fats also slow down digestion, which in turn provides longer nutrient flow throughout the body and keep the hunger strikes to a minimum.
While it may not be noticeable on the slopes, the body uses up a lot of water and a lot of sweating occurs. You will need to drink a lot of water when on the slopes even when you don't feel thirsty. A typical day should include about a gallon of water, however when on the slopes for a full day, a skier should aim for two gallons.
Snacks & Supplements On The Hill
There are many things that can aid a skier with performance; however some are more suitable for some people than others. In addition to training and when on the slopes, EAA's (Essential Amino Acids) and BCAA's (Branched Chain Amino Acids) drink mixes are excellent for preserving muscle mass and recovery.
Companies such as SciVation (Xtend) and Controlled Labs (Purple Wraath) make great mixes in various flavors. These drink mixes are excellent for people cutting and wanting to achieve a certain goal, however they are not necessarily beneficial for someone with a very high calorie diet or someone just trying to stay healthy.
Sometimes a quick burst of energy is needed, so I would advise to either keep a protein bar, granola bar, some trail mix or some nuts in your jacket just in case (of course size and what you eat will depend on goals). However, sometimes food just doesn't cut it and some energy supplements can aid in functioning. Ideal supplements would be something that will give you long periods of energy without a crash. Good examples are Erogpharm's AMP and VPX's Redline RTDs.
After a hard workout or a long day on the slopes, your muscles will be screaming for fuel and nutrients for recovery. A high quality protein would be advised directly afterwards. Protein's such as EST's Bio-Pro, VPX Zero Carb and ON Gold Standard Whey are great examples!
You should enjoy the mountain for all you can, and with proper training and appropriate nutrition, you can have the best time of your life on skis!
- Ski Training - http://www.alpineontario.ca/site/index.cfm, 2007
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- Millward DJ. Optimal intakes of protein in the human diet. Proc Nutr Soc. 1999 May;58(2):403-13.
- Gastelu D and Hatfield F. Dynamic Nutrition for Maximum Performance. 1997. Avery Publishing Group: New York.