Pre-season ski fitness – Program 1

Written by Mark from Peak Condition

Program 1

This program is all about teaching you some vital ski-specific movement patterns and ensuring your back, hip, pelvic and knee stabilisers and abdominal wall are functioning. These are all vital aspects of “base conditioning” for skiing and will help support your body while perfecting the movements and intensities needed to support your technical improvements.

This is the foundation of the house you are creating so, remember, would you skip properly building the foundations of your house?!?!

Follow the program as closely as possible to see the best results but don’t worry if you can’t follow the periodisation schedule exactly. Just commit to it, do the best you can and you will surely see results over 6 weeks.

Always consult your physician prior to undertaking any exercise program and if you feel pain while performing any of the exercises then desist immediately and contact your physician or email (if you think it is a non-medical issue) to discover what to do about it.

Expect to feel some muscular soreness in the day or so after you begin this program. This is normal and is a sign you’re working muscles that have been dormant. If you start with the prescribed lower number of sets then you won’t suffer adversely; its when you try to push a new program to hard that you will experience days of discomfort.

If your gym doesn’t have any of the equipment required for your exercises then demand they buy it for you as this is all basic gym equipment and you shouldn’t be paying a membership fee if they do not possess it!

Program 1A

BOSU banded squat

  1. Standing on a BOSU, flat side up.
  2. Use an elasticated band around your lower thighs to ensure that your kneecaps track with your 2nd toe on both sides.
  3. Hold a kettlebell or dumbbell just in front of your chest. If this is too heavy, to begin with don’t worry, just do the exercise bodyweight, and your hands out in front to aid balance, and add weight when you are ready.
  4. As you breathe out, lower your bum until your thighs are parallel to the floor.
  5. As you breathe in press your feet down into the BOSU to stand up.
  6. Keep your chest and shins quite upright and try to sit back as much as you can.
  7. Push your thighs out into the band throughout each repetition.
  8. Ensure there is good symmetry and smoothness in the movement.

Banded reverse lunge

  1. Loop an exercise band round the outside of one thigh and attach to something solid
  2. With the other leg step back into a lunge while breathing out.
  3. Track the shoulder, hip and kneecap with the 2nd toe on the front leg.
  4. As you breath in, press the front foot into the ground in order to stand up while maintaining alignment on front leg.
  5. Keep the front shin and chest quite vertical and ensure your spinal and pelvic alignment are good.
  6. Feel your bum and thigh muscles working together.
  7. Finish your set on the first leg and then swap to the other side.
  8. If you find the exercise too unstable then use a stick or something similar to help you balance.
  9. Add a dumbbell in your outside hand to increase load when required.

Dumbbell press on ball

  1. Lie, holding a dumbbell in one band, with your back on a Swiss ball and your feet on the floor with knees bent at 90°
  2. Move slightly off the centre of the ball towards the arm holding the dumbbell.
  3. Drive your hips up so your body is flat like a table top.
  4. Press your neck into the ball with your chin tucked and gently draw your belly button in.
  5. Perform a dumbbell press while holding the torso and pelvis as still as possible.
  6. Breath out as you press the dumbbell up, in as you lower the weight.
  7. Move further out from the centre of the ball as you get stronger.
  8. Increase the weight of the dumbbell but only once you can manage the whole rep/set range without excessive post training pain.

Program 1B

Swiss ball side flexion

  1. Lie on your side with your hip on the top of a Swiss ball and your top foot anchored against a solid object.
  2. Bring your fingertips just in front of your ears with your elbows open. Do not cup your head with your hands and pull your head forward
  3. Side flex over the ball, breathing out as you do so and, bringing your bottom rib on the upper side towards your pelvis. As you breathe in control yourself back to the start position and repeat.
  4. Ensure there is no rotation of the truck and the neck remains neutral.
  5. Ensure your hips remain still. Only side bend above the hips.
  6. Ensure good posture.
  7. Slightly draw your belly button in as you perform the exercise.
  8. As you get stronger extend your arms up at 135° to increase the load on the Oblique muscles.

Alternating Swiss ball superman

  1. Lie face down with your belly button on the apex of a Swiss ball.
  2. Draw your belly button gently in, and keeping your torso completely still, raise one arm at 135° to your body, feeling the shoulder blade slide towards the spine, with the thumb pointing to the ceiling.
  3. At the same time raise the opposite leg with the knee locked and the toes pulled toward the knee.
  4. Keep your chin tucked and the back of your neck long.
  5. Feel the hamstring, bum, low back and mid-back muscles working to hold you still and with good posture.
  6. To progress the exercise, raise both arms at the same time so you only have one foot in contact with the floor.

Lower abdominal 3

  1. Lying on your back with the thickest part of one hand behind your low back at the belly button level.
  2. Bend your knees at 90° with your feet on the floor.
  3. Take a breath in and let your belly button expand.
  4. Then draw your belly button in pulling it towards your spine and gently activate your pelvic floor muscles by tightening your rectum.
  5. Put some pressure on the hand under your low back and slowly raise your feet while maintaining the same pressure with your low back on your hand. If the pressure against the hand changes then increase the activation of your abdominal wall by drawing the belly button in more.
  6. Breath out through pursed lips as you lower your feet back to the floor while maintaining the same pressure on the hand under your low back.
  7. You should feel the region of the abdominal wall between the belly button and the pelvis working to maintain the pressure on the hand.
  8. With your feet on the floor take a new breath, letting your belly button expand again, while maintaining pressure on the hand behind your back, and repeat.
  9. If two legs at once are too hard then raise one leg at a time until you become strong enough to do both at the same time
  10. As you get stronger straighten the legs to increase the load on the abdominal wall. Doing this exercise straight-legged is the gold standard!

Here are the exercise prescriptions to go with the videos of each exercise. Follow the videos and these details as closely as you can to get the best results.

Program 1A

Exercise Form Repetitions Intensity Sets Tempo Rest
BOSU banded squat Bilateral 17 to 20 -2 2 to 4 2.1.2
Banded reverse lunge Left/Right 12 to 15 -2 2 to 4 2.1.1
Dumbbell press on ball Left/Right 12 to 15 -2 2 to 4 2.1.1 1:00

Program 1B

Exercise Form Repetitions Intensity Sets Tempo Rest
Left/Right 10 to 12 -2
2 to 4
2.1.2 0:45
Superman Alternating 6 to 8 -0:05 2 to 4 0:10
abdominal 3
Bilateral 12 to 16 -2 3 to 5 2.0.2 0:30

Below is the periodisation schedule for Program 1. Try to follow this schedule as closely as possible as this is designed to give you the best results from your program.

If you cannot follow exactly then just try to do the same number of sessions as prescribed for that week.

It is always optimal to rest long enough until you feel you can 1% to 3 % more than the last time you did that same program. This may just be 1 repetition but you should not workout if you feel your body is still recovering from your last workout.

Periodisation schedule for program 1

Week Day 1 Day 2 Day 3 Day 4 Day 5 Day 6 Day 7


PA = program A

PB = program B

R = rest day

Having assessed and worked with many skiers I have discovered that often the biggest issue affecting ski performance and pain issues are flexibility limitations and imbalances.

Metaphorically, the body is like a bicycle wheel; if some of the spokes of the wheel become too short then this will buckle the wheel; it will no longer run smoothly and is far more susceptible to damage if it hits a pothole or rut.

When working with clients face to face the first thing I do is assess and effectively address flexibility issues. Without this no strength and conditioning program will be effective.

My goal is to help skiers all over the world; so how to help them improve their individual flexibility when not face to face?

I gave it much thought and came up with the Ski Flexibility Self-Assessment.

I offer you the most important stretch assessments I see skiers needing. By going through the assessments you will feel exactly where your flexibility issues are.

You then use the assessments as stretches to redress the flexibility issues, enabling you to perform better on the slopes and often get rid of chronic joint and muscular pain that is detracting from your ski enjoyment. All this from the comfort of your own home, minimal equipment needed and just a few minutes a day at most.

For a one-off investment of £150 you will have access to the Ski Flexibility Self-Assessment.

You will also be given access to my 3-stage Ski Performance Program. This program is perfect for anyone who wants to ensure they get the most from their time on the slopes and will have the best effect once you have assessed and redressed your own flexibility issues.

Together the Ski Flexibility Self-Assessment and the Ski performance Program will get you in Peak Condition for the ski season.

Just click the link to take your skiing to the next level