Skiers dread summer, huffing at the sound of slushy, melting snow beneath their feet. The mountains are quickly transformed from pearly white peaks to landscapes of vibrant green, and skiers twiddle their thumbs in boredom, ushering time to pass. But summer doesn't have to be just a waiting game — there are plenty of ways to stay psyched and keep fit for skiing during the off-season.
Keep riding, except on two wheels
There are tons of benefits to staying in shape before the first snow hits the slopes. Maintaining your body’s physical fitness level means longer days on the mountain when those lift lines finally open. Plus you’ll be slower to fatigue and find yourself quickly pushing the limits you set last year.
Strong legs and a strong core are key physical elements to skiing. Any activity you can do in the off-season to keep your body in motion is helpful. Bicycling is one of the best ways for skiers to stay toned and limber, whether it’s outside or in the gym. Work on improving your cardiovascular level by slowly increasing your time spent on the bike, or focus on building muscle tone with powerful, shorter workouts.
The ideal approach is a combination of endurance and strength training, as both are required for a full day of skiing. Spend three days a week building your stamina plus two days building your muscle tone, and be ready to tear it up when winter arrives.
Keep your boarding skills sharp on the water, water is just melted snow
Wake boarding is a fun and popular summer past time and ideally could help scratch that itch for speed and excitement. For snowboarders, wake boarding may be especially appealing due to the many parallels.
This water sport involves riding a wakeboard over the surface of a body of water, either Ia lake or an ocean. Your feet are mounted to bindings similar to a snowboard and you hold a rigid han-dle on a line that is attached to the back of a boat. The boat pulls you out of the water and you use its momentum to stand up and glide across the surface.
Different kinds of fins can be attached to the bottom of the board to allow for a variety of surface tricks and you can adjust the rocker to increase or decrease speed capacities. Just enjoy the ride or really hone your skills, choose from a collection of maneuvers, and let wake boarding be-come your summertime terrain park practice.
Stay busy on the mountainside in the sun instead of snow
Skiing nostalgia can be brought back with quality time in the mountains, even when there’s not snow on the ground. Biking, hiking, and climbing are all fantastic ways to get back out in nature and stay in skiing shape during summer.
Mountain biking is a great way to exercise your legs and core for skiing, especially traveling long distances uphill. Maintain strength and endurance while building your cardiovascular system and most importantly, have fun while you ride. The blurs of color that rush past as you navigate downhill terrain can bring you a heightened sensation similar to skiing.
Hiking and climbing can help you break that stir-crazy feeling, get you out of the house, and back into the mountains. A walk in the woods will do your mental state a world of good, and might just turn into a new summer past time. Learn to rock climb and maybe you’ll one day take up ski mountaineering.
Source: Crested Butte mountain biking, Credit: Zack Dischner, Flickr.
Think of the off-season as the perfect opportunity to stay in shape or perhaps get into better shape. There is tons of literature out there on ski-specific exercises, and we’ve outlined a few below to get you started.
The Wall Sit: This is perhaps the best ski-centric exercise you can do. Skiing puts your body into an unnatural posture with your legs slightly bent and your back straight. The ability to main-tain this posture for long distances determines how well you will ski. In the off-season you can quickly lose the muscle strength associated with natural ski posture. Perform a set of wall sits every day to help maintain the best ski posture possible. With your back pressed against a wall, slide down until your knees are bent at between a 45 and 90 degree angle. Hold the position for as long as you can. You should quickly see vast improvements in the length of time you are able to maintain a wall sit.
Box Jumps: Box jumps are another great way to imitate natural ski posture and in addition provide for explosive, powerful movements often needed on the slopes. Begin in a wall sit posi-tion and then launch yourself up onto a box, keeping both feet together. Land, regain the same position, then step down and start over. Repeat these until your legs are burning.
While the off-season can be monotonous and boring for those of us who would just rather be ski-ing, there are plenty of ways to get out and stay toned so that we can return to the slopes in tip top shape. Remember, we’re all in this together.