The Heli-Ski Blog

Fit to Heli-Ski: Part 4

Posted by Jane Carswell on Feb 27, 2010 12:10:00 PM
Welcome back to the last installment of the Legs-of-Steel series, or how to build enough leg power to ski or board as many runs as you want, even after 5 full days of heli-fun.
CMH Monashees, Roger Laurilla
This workout is really tough, so please make sure that you have followed the instructions in Parts 2 and 3 to establish correct technique and enough base-strength that you can perform these exercises without getting hurt*. The workouts described below make use of eccentric contractions to build skiing and boarding specific strength. These types of contractions will make you sore at first, but they also build strength very quickly, and will protect you against the soreness that you usually get after skiing or boarding. They are also one of the few ways that we can get tendon and ligament to strengthen and so are very important for injury prevention. Today’s workout takes the eccentric leg program one step further by introducing a stretch cycle into the contraction. Stretching a muscle quickly causes a reflex action that results in a stronger-than-normal contraction, and hence a strong training effect.

The workout: Walk or slowly run up and down a flight of stairs a few times to warm up. Once your breathing has deepened and you are feeling warm and limber use the following sets to build your own workout according to your current level of fitness and the time that you have for your workout.

Sprint up 2-4 flights of stairs and hop down, using your activated two legged stance. Keep your hands up in your skiing or boarding stance, and drop your butt with each drop downward as though you were making a turn. You can also rotate your lower body as you would with a turn if you are feeling well balanced. Be careful to make sure you land squarely on each step so that you don’t stumble!!

Go as fast as you can
Drop two or three steps at a time for a deeper squat movement (Note: this is very demanding and requires good leg strength and a very solid core!)
Face 45º to one side or the other (snowboard)
Hop down on one leg (make sure your knee is well aligned as in the technique note above and that your core is solid)
Hop up on two legs
Hop up on one leg, but use a skaters stance and go from foot to foot springing sideways with each step up
Hop up on one leg (same leg for one whole flight)

Repeat your chosen set from 2 - 6 times, and then run one or two sets to recover. Then choose another 2 - 6 repeats of jumping sets. Finish with one or two easy running sets and 10 minutes of spinning on an exercise bike. The first few times you do this workout it will create a lot of muscle soreness, but it’s the same soreness you get from skiing, and once you have built up your tolerance with a few weeks of stair running, happily you WON’T be sore when skiing!

Build up your tolerance slowly, for example the first few times you do this workout only use two flights of stairs. The workout would be as follows:
Warm up
2 x 2 flights hopping down (2-legged stance)
1 x 2 flights running up and down
1 x 2 flights hopping up (2-legged stance)
2 x 2 flights running up and down
10 minutes spinning or in the hot tub!

For someone who is used to an hour or more of intense exercise, eventually completing twelve repeats of twelve flights are not out of the question. Just think about the Run of the Century and being able to ski the entire run without stopping!

Bookmark this blog and visit regularly to see the next installment for Functional Core Stability exercises, and be sure to let us know what fitness tips you want to hear about.

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.

Topics: Fit Tips