Get in Shape for Ski Season

Remember that burning sensation you felt in your legs after braving the first few runs of last season? It can be enough to make even the most seasoned skiers and snowboarders call it a day. Ski season is right around the corner–Park City Mountain Resort is scheduled to open November 17, 2012–so I sat down with Phil Parrish, a personal trainer at Silver Mountain Sports Club and Spa, to talk about why training before ski season is important, what types of exercises skiers should be doing to get in shape before the winter, and to give me a training regimen that could be tailored to fit every fitness level.

Phil Parrish is a personal trainer at Silver Mountain Sports Club and Spa.

Phil has worked professionally with winter-sport athletes for the last two years. He graduated from Springfield College with a bachelor’s degree in applied exercise science and has held strength and conditioning internships at both Stratton Mountain School and with the U.S. Women’s Ski Team at the USSA Center of Excellence. In addition to personal training, he also works as a strength and conditioning coach for figure skaters at the Park City Ice Arena. In other words: he knows how to whip you into shape.

Why is it important to train before the ski season begins?

It’s really important to train year-round, but the good news is that you might already be doing many of these things. During the summer, skiers can take advantage of cardio cross-training opportunities like mountain biking, road biking and trail running. And yoga and pilates can be a great way to work on core and flexibility. By building up an aerobic base through the summer and into fall, you’ll help your body perform better on the mountain, ski for longer amounts of time, recover faster, and reduce your risk of injury. Strength training year round helps to prepare your muscles to better handle the stress of skiing. Because skiing is so quad-demanding, it’s important to focus on training your hamstrings and glutes to prevent muscle imbalances that could occur. “Skiing is a lot more aerobically and muscularly demanding than people think. You can be exposed to great forces, and it’s important to prepare your body in the off-season to handle the stress of skiing,” says Parrish.

What types of exercises should skiers and snowboarders be doing?

A good winter-preparedness workout will involve cardio, core, anaerobic and strength training as well as plyometrics and flexibility.

Phil demonstrating plyometric training using a speed ladder.

It’s important to remember that the core is more than just abs. It includes obliques, hip flexors, back extensors, glutes, and other stabilizing muscles that help transfer energy between the upper and lower body. Great core exercises include variations of medicine ball tosses, planking, and asymmetric lifting activity.

Plyometric training is made up of quick, rapid jumping exercises that improve speed and power, and are also great for strengthening knees because they provide controlled stress at several angles and directions. Plyometrics can be done with a speed ladder, micro hurdles, or a series of box jumps.

Strength training should focus on full-body and lower-body movements. For experienced lifters this means exercises like cleans, squats, deadlifts and romanian dead lifts; lifters with less experience can strength train by doing box jumps, leg presses, lunges and hamstring curls.

Lactic acid build up in your legs can lead to muscle fatigue and a burning sensation. Anaerobic-endurance training helps your body become more efficient at clearing lactic acid and trains it to produce less. Anaerobic training can be as simple as hopping over a line continuously or as intense as doing hill sprints for two to five sets of 30 seconds to one minute.

Flexibility and mobility can be achieved through dynamic stretches before working out and static stretching post workout. It’s important to stretch all of the major muscle groups of the lower body.

Here’s a sample workout that Phil recommends doing two times per week. I tested it out with him, and it took me about an hour.

1. Start out with an aerobic warm up: run at a medium pace for 5-10 minutes

2. Dynamic warm up
Scorpions: 8 on each side
Straight leg kicks: 8 on each side
Quad pulls: 8 on each side
Walking lunges: 8 on each side
-Skips: 8 on each side
-Carioca: 25 yards
-Build-up sprint (start out slow and build up to your fastest pace): 25 yards

3. Core
Planks: 1 minute
Dumbbell asymmetric carry: 25 yards on each side
Back extension
Band monster walks and side shuffles: 10 steps each

4. Plyometrics
-Speed ladder: choose three patterns and perform three times each
examples: 2 forward & 1 back, alternating in & out, shuffle 

5. Strength
-Superset box jumps and over-head squats: 3 sets of 6 repetitions
-Superset walking lunges (while holding weights) with cable hamstring kickbacks: 3 sets of 8-12 reps
-Superset chest presses with cable lateral pull-down and hamstring curls: 3 sets of 8-12 reps

6. Anaerobic endurance
Side-to-side line hops: Jump over a line side to side as fast as possible for 30 seconds, rest, perform again. Walk for 30 seconds to help flush out muscles.

7. Static Stretching: Be sure to stretch your calves, quads, hamstrings, hip flexors, groin, glutes, and lats.

Ski season is just a month away, and if you follow this training routine you’ll be thanking Phil for your best ski vacation yet at  Deer Valley, Park City Mountain, or Canyons resorts this winter in Park City. If you’d like to find out more information about a training session with Phil, feel free to email him at or check out his website for information and training-demonstration videos.

By: Colette Maddock, Marketing and Social Media Coordinator