The Heli-Ski Blog

Fit to Heliski

Posted by Jane Carswell on Feb 17, 2010 1:57:00 PM

Welcome back to Dr. Delia Roberts’recommendations for heli-skiing and boarding fitness. These exercises are based on techniques currently being used with olympic athletes and were developed as part of a training program designed specifically for our guides to help them stay in top shape and remain injury free. 

Leg Power and Endurance heliboarding with cmh

The fastest way to build powerful muscles is with explosive movements, but in skiing and boarding the load is mainly in the negative or lowering phase (eccentric) while resisting gravity. Since both skiing and boarding require a two legged stance, the best choices are exercises that will also develop balance and equal weighting on both feet. One great exercise that meets these requirements is the plyometric drop squat. The routine below is based on this movement, but you will find that there is a high degree of variability in the workout to keep you interested and to encourage your muscles to develop strength quickly. 

Before you start these workouts it’s important to make sure you are using correct technique in order to avoid injury!* This workout will teach you how to do a good drop squat, using the correct muscles, and protecting your back and knees. 

  • Place your hands on your hips and starting in a two legged “ready stance” do a squat movement.
  • Feet should be shoulder width apart, knees slightly bent, back in neutral position (slight lumbar arch), and core engaged.
  • Use a mirror or get a friend to check that your knees are over your feet and that your lower back has a slight arch.
  • Continue with the squat movement by dropping your rear end down as through you are going to sit on a chair. Make sure that your knees do not fall inward as you squat down. It helps to place a loop of elastic banding around your thighs so that you have to hold your knees open to keep the banding from sliding down (this is especially helpful for women due to us having wider hips and narrow knees!).
  • Don’t roll your feet out or in, they should be placed solidly on the floor and your thigh and glute muscles are the ones that will hold your knees in the correct stance. This is VERY important for protecting your knees against injury!
  • Practice bouncing up and down, dropping to nearly 90º as though you were un-weighting a turn while on your skis. The hinge is made up of your knees and hips, and your legs should feel like strong springs, coiling on the drop, and uncoiling on the upward phase.
  • Once you are comfortable with this movement and can control your knees to stay over your toes, try actually springing upward during the un-weighting phase.
  • Practice the drop squat by hopping forward for distance during the un-weighting phase and landing each jump softly (don’t make noise as you land), but solidly (hold the deep part of the landing for 10 seconds).

Be sure to check back for the next edition of Dr. Roberts’ exercise program where you will learn how to build heli-specific fitness quickly and efficiently! 

*It is highly recommended that you check with your physician before beginning this or any other exercise program to ensure that you are not at risk for cardiovascular disease or have any other health concerns. The author, CMH, and FitSafe Solutions Inc. are not responsible for any illness or injury that may result from this program, if you chose to follow it you do so entirely at your own risk. If you feel faint or experience pain while doing these exercises seek medical attention immediately. 

For more information on these exercises or more advanced programs contact Dr. Delia Roberts at Dr. Roberts is an Exercise Physiologist who has worked with Olympic medalists, Heli-Ski Guides and is currently working on injury prevention for Ski Patrols and Ski and Snowboard Instructors.