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Cross-Training to Become a Stronger Skier or Snowboarder 

By Emma Giebler on

Hey, Trew Crew! My name is Emma, and as a skier, I am wildly passionate about cross-training for my favorite sport so that I can be a stronger athlete, prevent injury, and stay healthy in the long run.

I have compiled a summary of some of my favorite exercises that I perform weekly. Some of these exercises require equipment, but a lot of them can be performed without any equipment. You may do these at home or at the gym.


To train for skiing, I personally weight lift 3-4 days a week just before ski season starts, then I dial it back to 1-2 days a week during ski season. Sometimes I’ll do more if the snow isn’t so great.

Trail running is an incredible way to train your cardiovascular fitness, especially if you like to backcountry ski and want to become faster on the uphill. I trail run typically about two days a week, sometimes more if I’m really feeling it.

Plyometrics involves a series of explosive exercises that’ll kick your butt to the max and what will REALLY make you a stronger skier or snowboarder. Have fun reading through some of my favorite workouts below to get strong for your season on the mountain! As always, please consult a professional if you feel unsure about these exercises so that you do not become injured. If you have any medical conditions, please consult your physician before beginning any workout routine.

Remember to have fun with these exercises, and please contact me if you have any questions!

Weight Lifting

3-4 days a week preseason; 1-2 days a week during the season

Ahhh, weight lifting. One one the most tried and true forms of exercise. I love it, and hopefully you will too! This will help you build stronger muscles overall with a focus on building thunderous thighs (in a good way). When weight lifting, make sure you’re using this as a guide to promote good form, which will in turn prevent injury. Be sure to consult a fitness professional if you feel uncomfortable performing any of these movements, and do NOT lift any weight outside of your ability level. Repeat all these exercises three times and increase the weight as you feel ready.

One-legged deadlift - 10 reps on each side.

This is one of the most effective exercises you can possibly do for skiing. You may also incorporate a full deadlift with a barbell with both feet on the ground to strengthen your entire backside. This exercise works on stabilizing the deeper glute muscles and works on driving the big toe down into the ground. This will help with knee stability and just overall goodness.

This exercise will help with proprioception, which is your body’s ability to sense movement and location. Obviously, proprioception is excellent for skiing and will promote better drive through your feet and onto your skis. 

  1. Place a kettlebell or dumbbell of roughly 10-15 pounds on the ground in front of you. 
  2. Shift weight onto one foot, toes pointing directly forward. The other foot should be off the floor, and the leg slightly relaxed. Your foot is there as a kickstand in case you bobble or lose balance. 
  3. Hinge forward at the waist, bend your left knee, and pick up the kettle bell with your right hand while keeping your spine straight. 
  4. Stand up straight, keeping the weight low while also straightening your left knee (but do not lock it out). 
  5. Bend down again with the weight in your hand, letting it tap the ground to complete the rep. Keep your spine straight and your shoulder rolled back and locked into place.
  6. Repeat on one side until 10 reps and then switch. 
  7. Be sure to keep the big toe planted the entire time for stability.

Weighted split squats - 10 reps on each side.

  1. Hold weights of 10 to 20 lbs. in both hands, and keep arms relaxed at your sides. (Weights are optional for this exercise. Lunges are great no matter what.)
  2. Step your feet into a lunge position with one foot forward and flat on the floor. You should only be standing on the ball of your foot with your back foot.
  3. Bend and straighten the front knee to complete one rep. Track your knee directly over your big toe, and be sure to not go past 90 degrees. 
  4. Repeat until 10 reps are completed, then switch to the other side.

Weighted squats - 10 reps.

  1. This can be completed with weights suitcase style (arms straight and along your sides) or holding the weights up at shoulder height. Shoulder height is harder since it brings your center of gravity up, putting more strain on the butt. This can also be done without weights or with a barbell.
  2. Stand with your feet shoulder width apart, and weights positioned to your preference.
  3. Bend your knees until your thighs are parallel to the ground. Keep your chest up by looking forward.
  4. Press through the feet to stand back up, and give those glutes a squeeze at the top to finish the rep. Repeat 10 times.

Sumo Squats - 20 reps.

  1. Grab a heavy dumbbell or kettle bell with both hands and let it hang in front of you with your arms straight
  2. Start with feet wider than shoulder width and toes pointed slightly outward.
  3. Squat down until your knees are almost at a right angle
  4. Press through the feet to stand back up and squeeze the glutes at the top. Repeat 20 times or until you’ve had enough.

    Trail Running

    This is mostly for the backcountry lovers and ski tourers out there. If you hate running, I get it. To some, cardio is the devil - but if weight lifting isn't for you, then I highly recommend trying it! Trail running has so many benefits; it’s a cardio workout, and you get to play outside among many other things. You can choose between flat trails or steep trails, or trails with a mellow but sustained grade.

    Remember that it’s OKAY to walk uphill for the sake of preserving yourself for the long haul. One tip that I can give while trail running is to run the flat sections and hike the hills.

    Trail running is my favorite in the fall when there’s cool weather and a ton of anticipation for snow. If there’s a bit of snow on the ground at this time, it’ll help you to assess early season conditions, especially for you backcountry skiers. It’s a great way to see how the snow is stacking up and how coverage is looking for those big, dreamy backcountry lines. 

    Cardio Intervals

    As an alternative, you can do intervals to build your endurance for backcountry skiing. Try sustaining a slow running speed uphill for two minutes, then hike/walk for one minute and repeat. If you want to go hard, try 30 seconds running at a faster pace and 30 seconds walking, and repeat. Also, never be ashamed to walk all the hills! You’re still getting your training in. 


    1-2 days a week

    This workout is not for the faint of heart! Plyometrics are designed to help you as an athlete (yes, you) to jump higher and change direction more quickly while becoming stronger. Go easy on these workouts, and work UP to a full set of all of these reps. They’ll kick your booty into shape.

    I would highly recommend cutting the number of reps in half then gradually working your way up to a full set. I used this page and then tweaked the workout a bit. This workout has been around for a few years, but I am a firm believer that it really helps with explosive movement, especially on skis. If you enjoy skiing bumps fast, jumping off cliffs, or simply want to be a stronger skier or snowboarder, this is for you!

    Repeat the full circuit three times...maybe just two to start so that your body can build up the endurance. 

    Forward box jumps - 10 reps.

    1. Place a plyo box 6 inches in front of you. Start with something about shin height, and then later work your way up. It’s a fun challenge to see how high you can jump! Just mind your shins. 
    2. Get into a squat position with your feet about shoulder-width apart.
    3. Squat and explode up using your entire body, including your arms.
    4. Land softly on the box on the balls of your feet.
    5. Step down, reset yourself, and repeat.

    Weighted lateral jumps - Repeat 15 times.

    Over and back counts as one rep. 

    1. Place a sandbag or any weighted object about 12 inches wide on the ground. Something that you can easily jump over laterally. 
    2. Stand about 6 inches to the side of the object.
    3. Bend your knees slightly with your feet close together.
    4. Hop over the bar and back continuously, staying light on your feet.
    5. Tuck your knees close to your chest, but don’t worry if you can’t do this right away. The higher you can tuck your knees to your chest, the more effective this will be. Try not to spend much time on the ground between jumps. The quicker the takeoff from the ground, the better!

    Broad Jumps - 15 reps.

    Broad Jumps build true leg strength, because you don't take a first step or get a running start. They require you to perform a deep Squat to propel yourself forward as far as you can, using your quadriceps and glute muscles. 

    1. Use a surface that has some give to it.
    2. Get into a squat position with your feet shoulder-width apart facing an open space.
    3. Squat down deep and explode up, using your entire body to thrust yourself forward.
    4. Land softly on the ground and immediately transition into your next rep.

    Skater Jumps - 10 reps.

    Right and left counts as one rep.

    Skater Jumps build lateral strength and power in the quadriceps and glute muscles. They also place the entire load on one leg, which helps with balance and reduces the tendency to favor the stronger leg during two-legged jumps.

    1. Get into a squat position with your feet close together and the majority of your weight on your right leg.
    2. Push off your right leg to the opposite side.
    3. Land softly on your left leg and move your right leg behind it like you were performing a Curtsy Lunge.
    4. Repeat on your left leg. That's one rep.

    Scissor jumps - 10 reps.

    Right and left counts as one rep.

    This plyometric exercise is essentially a Jumping Lunge in place. Scissor Jumps increase adductor and glute muscle strength with the legs in a stretched position. 

    1. Get into a standard lunge position, keeping your back straight and your knees and toes forward.
    2. Squat down and explode up, switching leg positions in mid-air.
    3. Land softly and immediately transition to your next jump.
    4. Perform the same movement, switching your leg position each time.

    Weighted squat jumps - 10 reps.

    This exercise adds weight to normal Bodyweight Squat Jumps, making it more difficult. When you perform a normal jump, it seems much easier and you can jump higher by increasing your explosive strength and power. Do not add so much weight that you are unable to perform a good jump. 

    1. Hold a medicine ball (roughly 10 pounds) with both hands in front of your chest and elbows tucked in toward your ribs. 
    2. Squat down and explode up, jumping off the ground.
    3. Land softly and immediately transition into your next rep.

    BOSU ball burpees (my faaaaaavorite!) - 10 reps.

    Burpees have always been great full-body exercises. Adding a BOSU ball adds extra resistance and tests balance. The BOSU ball also requires more core strength, which is the root of stability of all athletic movements, hence the name ”core.”

    1. Hold a BOSU ball in front of you with the flat side facing you.
    2. Get into a squat position with your feet shoulder-width apart.
    3. Drop down into a push-up position with the round part of the BOSU ball on the floor.
    4. Jump your feet back toward your hands and the ball, and prepare to jump from this squatting position. 
    5. Explode up, jumping into the air with the BOSU ball above your head.
    6. Land softly on the ground and immediately transition into your next rep.


    If you wanna be hardcore, try mixing up all of these exercises throughout the week. If you feel like your body needs a rest day, TAKE IT. I cannot stress that enough.

    Warm up + cool down

    Remember to warm up for at least 5-10 minutes before every session and to stretch afterwards for another 10-20 minutes. Warm ups and cool downs can be as long as you feel you need, and should never be skipped!

    Hydration + fuel

    Make sure you drink plenty of water, watch your intake of junk food (I’m guilty of this), and eat your protein. OH! And don’t shy away from carbs. You crave them because your body needs them! Have fun out there.

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    1 comment

    • Evin Sather on

      Great tips. I can’t wait to try your suggestions!

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