Plyometric exercises are one of the best ways to train our muscles and build the explosive energy needed for skiing. Plyometrics involve quick, powerful movements that activate fast-twitch muscle fibers. They build strength, power, and reactivity in our legs and core.
By doing plyometric exercises 2-3 times per week in the months leading up to ski season, you’ll increase your agility, balance, and endurance on the slopes.
Ski season is upon us here in Summit County and Eagle County, Colorado, which means it’s time to condition our bodies for the demands of carving down the mountain. Whether you prefer groomed corduroy, bumpy mogul runs or steep and deep, excellent leg strength, power, and stamina are essential to having a successful day on the slopes.
In this guide, we’ll highlight six of our favorite plyometric exercises to get you slope-ready. These moves will target the specific muscle groups used in skiing, helping you carve those turns with precision – while making sure you don’t miss a day of skiing due to injury.
Before You Train
Before you start putting the following exercises into your fitness routine, it’s important to understand the basics of plyometric training. These exercises are intense and involve powerful movements, so it’s important to always warm up your muscles before diving in.
- Thoroughly warm up with light cardio and dynamic stretching before plyometric exercises.
- Cool down and stretch after sessions to aid muscle recovery.
- Take rest days between plyometric sessions, and don’t overdo it too soon while building conditioning.
- Wear proper footwear with good cushioning and support for plyometrics.
- Land softly with good knee and hip alignment to avoid injury.
- Focus on quality reps with good form rather than quantity.
- Build up conditioning gradually over time for best results and injury prevention.
Remember – plyometrics is a form of high-intensity exercise and can be risky if not done correctly. Consult with your doctor or physical therapist if you have any medical issues that could affect your ability to perform plyometrics safely. Consider working with a trainer to ensure proper form. It’s important to listen to your body and take it slow when starting out so you can reach higher levels of conditioning without getting injured!
Plyometric Exercise #1: Jump Squats
The jump squat is a high-intensity plyometric exercise that trains strength and explosiveness in the hips, glutes, and legs.
Start standing with feet shoulder-width apart. Sit back into a squat with knees bent at 90 degrees, keeping your chest lifted. From the bottom of the squat, immediately explode up into the air, driving through your heels. Land softly under control and drop back into the squat.
Continuously repeat the rapid squat-jump motion in a quick yet controlled manner. Drive your arms up as you jump for added power. Aim for 2-3 sets of 8-12 reps. For progression, hold dumbbells while jumping.
Jump squats develop the leg power and stamina required to charge through mogul fields and power up steep slopes. The rapid plyometric movement mimics maneuvering over bumpy terrain. Land with soft knees to cushion the impact.
This move builds incredible leg strength – your quads will be ready to conquer those black diamonds!
Plyometric Exercise #2: Jumping Lunges
The jumping lunge, also called the split squat jump, is a powerful plyometric drill.
Start in a staggered stance, one foot forward and one foot back as if performing a lunge. Engage your core, bend both knees in a lunge, and explode upwards into the air, switching your feet in midair so you land in the opposite lunge stance.
As you jump up, drive your back knee forward powerfully and reach long with the front leg to enhance the switch. Land softly under control with the opposite foot now forward. Keep repeating, jumping back and forth between lunge stances.
The plyometric drive trains explosive and reactive strength in your hips, glutes, quads, hamstrings, and calves. The horizontal jump motion mimics skiing movements. Do 2-3 sets of 8-12 reps on each side. For an advanced workout, hold dumbbells for extra resistance.
Jumping lunges will strengthen your legs for long mogul runs. To minimize joint impact, remember to land gently with soft knees.
Plyometric Exercise #3: Lateral Box Jumps
This plyometric exercise involves jumping laterally back and forth over a box or bench. You may find it helpful to use a box that is appropriate for your height and level of athleticism. Remember that the goal is not necessarily to jump higher but rather to react quickly and land with good knee and hip alignment before immediately propelling yourself back up off the ground.
Begin in an athletic stance to one side of the box. Bend your knees and swing your arms to generate momentum as you leap sideways onto the box. Land softly on the box with both feet, then immediately jump sideways back down to the floor. Repeat the lateral jumps back and forth over the box in a controlled manner.
Lateral box jumps build explosive power in your hips, glutes, quads, and calves as you push off powerfully from side to side. The lateral motion also enhances coordination, mimics the movements of ski turns, and works your inner and outer thighs. Do 2-3 sets of 6-10 lateral jumps, resting for 1-2 minutes between sets. Focus on proper form and alignment on each jump.
You can place two boxes side-by-side and alternate jumping between them to get the lateral motion. Start with a lower height box and progress higher as your power increases. Lateral box jumps will get those legs prepped to carve!
Plyometric Exercise #4: 360 Jump Turns
This dynamic move involves jumping up and rapidly spinning 360 degrees in midair before landing back in the starting position.
Begin standing with feet hip-width apart. Dip down into a partial squat, swing your arms forcefully, and explode up and off the ground. As you jump up, initiate a 360-degree spin by bringing your knees up and swinging your arms around. Complete a full rotation before landing softly back in the starting squat position. Immediately repeat the jump spin in the opposite direction.
The power and coordination required to execute rapid midair rotations enhance many of the movements needed for skiing. It builds rotational strength in the hips, legs, and core, balance, and body control. Do 2-3 sets of 5-10 repetitions in each direction, resting 1-2 minutes between sets. Focus on coordination and soft landings.
Start with smaller hops and 180-degree turns as you build up rotational power. Time the arm swings and knee drive to generate quick yet controlled spinning force. Get ready to show off those smooth 360s on the slopes!
Plyometric Exercise #5: Planks
The plank is a classic core stabilizing exercise that develops endurance in the abdominals, back, shoulders, and glutes.
To perform: lie face down and prop yourself up onto your forearms and toes. Keep your body straight, being careful not to sag or pike upwards. Engage your core and hold the plank position for 30-60 seconds.
Planks strengthen the entire core musculature, which is key for maintaining balance and stability on skis. The isometric hold also trains posture and body alignment. Do 2-3 sets, lowering to your knees and resting between holds as needed.
For added difficulty, start with toe taps alternating with either foot out and in. You can also do plank jacks by quickly opening and closing your legs
Training your core with planks will give you the torso strength and stamina to stay centered and balanced as you take on those black diamond runs. Don’t forget to keep breathing during the holds!
Plyometric Exercise #6: Mountain Climbers
The mountain climber exercise imitates the motion of climbing or running up a steep slope. Start in a pushup position with hands under shoulders and legs extended. Keeping your core engaged, quickly bring one knee towards your chest. Rapidly switch legs, driving the other knee in. Move your legs in and out at a quick, controlled pace like you’re climbing a mountain.
Mountain climbers build coordination, strengthen the shoulders, arms, and core, and provide an intense cardio blast. The plyometric element comes from exploding the legs in and out quickly with power. Do 2-3 sets for 30-60 seconds, moving at a challenging yet controlled speed.
This total body plyo exercise will give you the leg drive, arm strength, and endurance to power up steep slopes and carve your way down.
Get Slope Ready with Axis Sports Medicine
Now that you’ve got a great plyometric workout routine to prepare your legs and body for ski season, be sure to take care of those hardworking muscles! Our physical therapists at Axis Sports Medicine in Eagle and Summit County can help take your ski conditioning to the next level.
We offer customized exercise programs to meet your goals and abilities and expert coaching on safe plyometric training techniques. Let us design a progressive plan to get you shredding black diamonds and racing mogul courses quickly! We’ll also make sure you recover optimally between sessions.
From injury rehabilitation to performance enhancement, our team has the knowledge and experience to keep you doing what you love – carving up the mountain all winter. Contact us today to take your ski training to new heights!