Warm Up in the Lift Line

Barton Performance Coach
Routine strength training, stretching, and sport-specific movements can help you stay healthy all season long.
Provided/ Getty Images

Warming up on the slopes is not just for cold fingers and toes. Your muscles and ligaments, which are crucial for stability and balance, also benefit from being energized between runs. Try these exercises in the lift line to help keep your body tuned in and alert:

Swing your body – arm circles and leg swings. Doing arm circles and swinging your legs are the “mobilizing” warm-up exercises of skiing. These exercises are especially great for loosening your shoulder and hip joints. Stand straight, with your feet shoulder-width apart. Start circling your arms, first forwards and then backwards. Try doing at least 10 full circles for each direction. To test coordination, try circling your arms in opposite directions. This exercise also helps cold fingers as it stimulates the blood circulation in the whole arm.

Activate your leg muscles by swinging them back and forth. Use your ski poles if necessary, to help keep your balance. You can intensify the leg swings by swinging your legs sideways, from left to right. The weight of your boots will make this even more effective!

Hip circles/ torso rotations. Activating the torso is just as important as warming up your arms and legs as your core gives you stability during skiing or riding. Start this exercise by standing straight with feet at shoulder-width and hands on hips. Make circles with your hips. Big circles are most effective for this exercise and always circle in both directions, clockwise and counterclockwise.

A similar exercise also exists for the torso. Simply take your ski poles and place them on your shoulders, behind your head. Hold on to the poles and then turn your torso as far as you can, to the right and the left. If you don’t have ski poles, simply stretch your arms out sideways and bend forward, rotating your torso so that your right hand touches your left foot. Repeat the exercise, touching your right foot with your left hand.

The classic – squats. Your legs bear a lot of strain during skiing and snowboarding, and warming up your leg muscles beforehand is crucial. Squats are a true classic when it comes to leg warm-ups. Start this exercise by standing straight with your feet shoulder-width apart. Lower your body as far as you can into a squat position. The number of squats you should do depends on your physical condition. However, a minimum of 10 squats is enough to warm up the muscle. Make sure your knees do not bend over your toes. By doing full squats, you can efficiently activate your leg muscles.

Walking on the spot. Marching on the spot helps warm up your lower body. For this exercise, march on the spot for 20 to 30 seconds. Make sure you lift your knees high enough; ideally, your thighs should be parallel to the ground. You can intensify this exercise by increasing the speed. Make sure your upper body is always straight during this exercise.

If you have room, jumping jacks are another great way to get your body moving and warm. If you have kids, try motivating them to warm up by creating a game or counting in unison. The camaraderie can easily get even the youngest kids to move and warm up their bodies.

To ensure your body is in top shape for the slopes, consider a training routine with a performance coach. Routine strength training, stretching, and sport-specific movements can help you stay healthy all season long.

This article was written by a PSIA Level II Ski Instructor and Performance Coach with the Barton Center for Orthopedics & Wellness. Barton Performance Coaches specialize in strength training and offer individualized training and exercise programs to the Lake Tahoe community. Sign up for the Performance Athlete Program for customized training sessions: 8 sessions and 12 sessions are available. Learn more at, or by calling 530.600.1976.



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