Exercise is the healthiest thing since broccoli. With that in mind, don’t make a full plate of dryland training so hard to swallow. A dryland training program is all about balance. The aim isn’t to look like Hulk Hogan or strap rocks to your back like Bode Miller. The goal is to maintain a healthy balance of strength, cardio, and power training, all while having fun in the California sun.
Since skiing is an alternative sport in this nation of football and baseball, use alternative ways to train. Don’t think you need to jog and hit the gym every single day for a lift. Not only will you be bored to death, you won’t be prepared for a season of ski racing.
Skiing is unpredictable. The elements are constantly shifting, throwing curve balls day in and day out. When you’re carving out a pre-season fitness program, keep the inherent nature of the arc in mind. Making a sweet turn is about strong instincts, quick thinking, and powerful moves. The mountain is your playground; your pre-season fitness program should be as well.
Here are some alternatives to the jog/gym mentality.
What a wonderful invention for ski racers. Not only is hitting the hills on a bike one radical cardiovascular workout, tackling a single-track also works your core, tests your quickness, and keeps your eyes searching for the fastest line. A mountain bike is a ski racers best friend during the off-season.
This new wave around Tahoe is also a fun way to get your blood pumping while keeping your balance in check. Bend your knees, flex your core, and glide the paddle through the blue Tahoe water. Go out when the water is glassy and work on your squat technique. Or when the powerboats are pumping, grab your tuck and shift your weight from right to left as the wake comes in. I’m pretty sure there’s even yoga on paddleboards.
My all-time favorite training tool: the rollerblade. I don’t know how easy these little gems are to find anymore, but boy are they handy for a young ski racer. Set up a straight line of cones in the parking lot and start testing your footwork. Lacing up a pair of rollerblades is a good way to keep your footwork precise.
When I was an athlete at Burke Mountain Academy, soccer was a mandatory sport. I still think it is, and there’s a good reason why: hand-eye coordination and footwork. Plus, it’s fun, competitive, and an easy sell to those friends sitting around uploading pictures to facebook all day. Grab a ball and get outside. Practice your juggling skills and work on your tricks.
Ah, this one is my best friend, just like the friend that introduced me to the art of extreme hiking: Katie Hitchcock. The Sierra’s are packed with extreme hiking spots; rocks and dust make the best combo for a solid plyometrics routine. There are many variations to this sport: the rocker, the duster, and the logger. The rocker goes like this: try to take a step on every rock in the trail (if there are several rocks in one area, you’ll have to bust out a dance move to hit them all). The duster is similar to the rocker, except you launch off the rocks and kick up a cloud of dust (be careful of your ankles). And the logger navigates every downed tree in the Sierras like a slack line walker. Put them all together in one hike and you’re a pro.
Of course, go to the gym and go for jogs. But keep these alternatives in mind, and take the initiative to make your dryland program uniquely ski related. Train hard, play hard, and when in doubt, get out!