Training now for winter activities 

Jeff Orr, MD

While the winter is still months away, if you are a skier or snowboarder, now is the time to start getting ready to get on the slopes rather than waiting until the snow is upon us. 

Starting two to three months prior to winter, you can begin working a consistent cardio, strengthening, and flexibility program into your activities: 

Cardio: Good exercises to increase your cardio include biking, walking, hiking, rowing, and running — these should be done two to three times a week at a moderate pace including some high-intensity, short duration bursts followed by passive rests.  

Eventually, progress to high-resistance cardio for continuous intervals, which will help condition your legs for long powder runs this winter. 

Strengthening: Strength training that focuses on large muscle groups like the quads, hamstrings, glutes, and your core will help build endurance for skiers and snowboarders. This can help stabilize your hips and knees while on the snow. 

An example of a bodyweight strength training program may include: 

  • Walking Burpee, perform three sets of five reps. 
  • Step 1: Stand with your feet hip-width apart, bend at your waist and knees, and touch your palms to the ground. 
  • Step 2: Jump/ walk your feet back until your body is extended in a plank position. 
  • Step 3: Perform a pushup, then raise your hips and walk/jump your feet forward toward your hands. 
  • Step 4: Stand, repeat. 
  • Leg Series, perform all moves to complete a set. Perform three sets. 
  • Squats, 10x: Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Keeping your back flat and chest forward, bend your knees to lower into a 90-degree squat; return to standing by driving through your heels and squeezing your glutes. 
  • Alternating Lunges, 10x: Take a big step forward with your right foot; shift your weight into your right heel, bend your knees until your right knee is bent 90 degrees; step your right foot back to the left to return to standing. Repeat with your left leg forward. Continue to alternate legs. 
  • Jumping Lunges, 10x: Stand in a lunge position with your right leg forward. Keeping your chest forward, bend your knees and jump into the air, switching your legs midair to land with your left leg forward in a lunge position. Continue to alternate legs. 
  • Jumping Squats, 5x: Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Keeping your black flat and chest forward, bend your knees to lower into a 90-degree squat, then explode into the air, landing softly back in a squat position. Repeat. 
  • Plank, 1 minute: Get into a forearm plank position with your feet shoulder-width apart and your elbows directly under your shoulders. Engage your core, quads, hamstrings, and glutes to keep your back flat. 
  • Wall Sit, hold for 2 minutes (work to increase time each workout). 
  • Step 1: Stand with your back against the wall, feet hip-width apart. 
  • Step 2: Bend your knees to sink down into a 90- degree squat, keeping your back flat against the wall. 

Flexibility: Finally, maintaining or improving flexibility is also important — your spinal mobility helps you feel strong and balanced on your gear. Yoga and Pilates are great ways to incorporate stretching and movement into your winter prep.  

Preparing your body for the ski season should start well before you ever hit the slopes. By incorporating some deliberate and regular exercise and stretching, you can help prepare your body appropriately and lessen your chance of injury this winter season. 

Dr. Jeff Orr is an orthopedic physician who specializes in joint injury and traumatic orthopedic injuries with Tahoe Orthopedics & Sports Medicine. Find award-winning orthopedic care in Carson City, Incline Village, Round Hill, or South Lake Tahoe. For more information, call 530.543.5554 or visit 

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