Leg Strength and Balance
Skiing demands good leg strength and balance. A good ski exercise program will work both. If you are very strong but have a poor balance, the balance will be your limiting factor and vice versa. It simply doesn’t help you much to have real strong legs if your balance is left untrained. Good balance is when your body has learnt to recruit its muscles to act or react in a certain order. If that doesn’t happen you will not be able to recruit all your force.
That’s why I believe in combining strength and balance in the same exercises when training for skiing, so that you get used to using your muscle strength in unstable situations.
While training in the machines in a fitness center has its purpose for
building absolute strength and muscle mass, you should try to incorporate exercises where you involve that element of balance as well. It teaches the muscles to work together as a “team” rather than as “individualists” and the result is much better ski balance.
Good examples of strength exercises that involve balance are exercises in which you work one leg at a time. This will challenge your balance – and at the same time – training one leg at a time will help assure that each leg does the same amount of work and not one leg carries the whole load. This is particularly important if you have had an injury, because you will then most likely be weaker on one side than the other. If you are not aware of this you will automatically do more work with the stronger leg to compensate, thus strengthening it even more while the weaker leg just gets weaker.
If you try to squat on a wobbly surface or a balance board, you will
notice that it feels as if you need more strength to get back up, than
if you do a squat on a plane, hard surface. Getting the balance aspect into the strength exercise adds difficulty, so the exercise will be harder.
When training for skiing balance is not just about standing on a balance board although that is a good start. To add to that you might put on your skiboots and stand on the board as you get better. Balance training is about constantly making it difficult enough to you lose it some times.
Vertical balance in skiing
To keep your balance when skiing you have to control it along
the skis as well as across the skis. This is obvious because these are the ways we tend to fall. However, there is a third balance element when skiing and that is the vertical balance. By this I mean absorption and extension. If we don’t control this, we will easily lose our stability and control.
One good thing about balance training is that it pays off really fast. You can improve your ski balance (or snowboard balance) dramatically in just one month of doing balance demanding training.. So if you are running behind on your ski fitness training, my advice is to focus on training balance for skiing.