Despite the burning that you feel in your Quads after a long day in the mountains, skiing is not all in your legs. “For those who are inspired to get stronger and more aggressive on skis, working on their core strength is the right place to start,” says Johnny Collinson, professional skier at Big Mountain.
When skiing, you want your legs to be able to work separately from your torso, like when Mughal skiers swing their skis around the bumps while their chests float quietly on the drop line. A strong core—which is your whole body (front, side and back) – is the basis of this movement, from the initiation of the turn to the transition to the next. It provides a foundation for transferring strength between the upper and lower body and gives you the stability to move quickly and stand on unpredictable terrain.
If you haven’t followed Collinson’s Instagram feed, this is a workout friend. Four to five days a week, the 28-year-old trains hard, he says, and is active every day. “Sometimes I do Core as a stand-alone workout when I’m really trying to get things done,” he says. “But most of the time, I will incorporate it into my warm-up and the end of strength training.”
Collinson considers basic training to be three-dimensional: “I look at how I can hit in the front, sides and back, and I will do exercises for each area.”This ten-movement circuit, which can be performed with little or no equipment, not only targets the core in its entirety, but also strengthens the glutes, hamstrings and hip adductors. And it’s not just for skiers. Everyone who plays in the mountains, from professional athletes to weekend warriors, can benefit from a stronger core.
Finish this workout as a cycle and ideally move from one exercise to another without having to rest in between. If necessary, take a short break between exercises. Start with a ride and go through it again if you feel good. Start with a quick warm-up to get the blood flowing: a light jog or ten minutes of rope jumping (30 seconds on, 30 seconds off) followed by some dynamic stretches.
Front Plank Progression
What it does: mainly strengthens the deep core muscles and grasps the other core muscles, glutes, Quads and shoulders for stability.
How to do it: start with a 60-second forearm board to serve as a warm-up for the first round. Then when you are able to increase the challenge with a harder Variation the second time.
Forearm plank (simplest): start in a kneeling Position and place your forearms shoulder-width apart on the floor, elbows just below your shoulders. Stretch your legs back, your feet together and your toes below, so that your body forms a straight line from the heels to your head. Keep your back flat—no sagging, arching, or hip rotation-and your head outstretched so that your neck is in harmony with your spine. Keep this form for the duration of storage.
Three-point Board: start in a Push-up position, with straight arms and hands directly under your shoulders. Place your feet one to two feet apart. (The farther they are from each other, the easier it will be.) Maintain a rigid board from your head to your heels. Then lift one arm without turning your shoulders or hips and hold it for ten seconds. Return to the starting position and lift the other arm for ten seconds, followed by one leg, then the other leg, etc. Continue to alternate between the four limbs and hold them in the air for ten seconds for the duration of the board.
Two-Point board (most difficult): start in a Push-up position as you would the Three-Point board, but this time lift your opposite arm and leg at the same time. Stay calm for 30 seconds without turning your shoulders or hips. Repeat with the opposite hand-leg combo raised.
Volume: hold for 60 seconds. Once you have reached a Minute with a perfect shape, increase the challenge by moving to a more difficult variant.
Glute Page Board
What it does: primarily targets the obliques and Gluteus medius (a stabilizing muscle in the back of the hip).
How to do it: start in a side plank position on your forearm, with the elbow bent and bent 90 degrees just below your shoulder and lower knee. (This Position generates better activation of gluten on both sides, says Collinson.) Grab your heart and lift your hips so that your torso forms a straight line. Keep your hips flat and square. Then lift your upper leg as high as possible. Keep the upper leg straight and imagine that you are pushing your lower knee into the ground. Hold this Position for 60 seconds, then repeat on the other side.
Elevated Glute Bridge
What it does: mainly strengthens the glutes, thighs and lower back.
How to do: lie on a bench or chair on your back, heels raised. Lift your hips until they are fully expanding, squeeze your glutes and grasp your heart. Imagine that you pull your navel towards the spine. Hold this position for 60 seconds. Keep your hips flat, square and in a straight line with your thighs and torso. If this variant feels too difficult, keep your feet on the floor. If it seems too easy, raise one foot and hold the bridge on one leg. Repeat on the other side.
What it does: primarily targets the deep muscles of the heart and hip flexors.
How to do it: lie flat on your back with your legs together and straight in front of you. Place your arms next to your body for balance and support. Start with your feet six inches off the floor. Lift your legs up until they are vertical and directly above your hips. Then lift your hips off the floor. (It’s a subtle but difficult move.) Slowly lower your hips and reverse the movement until your feet rest six inches above the floor-do not let them touch. Repeat. Keep your legs straight, chin hidden, and lower back firmly pressed against the floor during exercise.
For a simpler variant, keep your legs straight and your feet six inches off the floor, as described above, but bend your knees when lifting your legs vertically. Slowly reverse the movement and repeat.
Bosu Ball Side Crunch
What it does: primarily targets the oblique and hip adductors.
How to do it: for this you need a Bosu, a pillow or a rolled up towel. Place the stand at a leg length away from a wall. Lie on your side, your hips planted on the support and your feet against the wall. Tilt your feet from heel to toe, with the top of the foot in front of the bottom of the foot. Push your feet into the wall for leverage and lift your torso into a side crunch as you arc a Ski curve. Reverse the movement until your torso hovers just above the floor and repeat. Do not lower on the floor between repetitions. Move slowly and in control through the full range of motion. Keep your body in the same plane and keep your hips vertical throughout the movement. (Avoid twisting or bending to the side.) For a harder variant, keep your upper foot in the air, parallel to the leg and hip width.
Bird Dog Variation
What it does: targets deep core muscles to train strength and stability and improve shoulder and hip mobility.
How to do: start in the table position, hands under the shoulders, knees under the hips and back flat. Simultaneously lift and stretch the opposite arm and leg until you are level and in harmony with your body. This is the starting Position. From there, place your raised elbows and knee under your upper body and return to movement until full extension. Now rotate your arm and leg outward until they are perpendicular to your body. (Keep them parallel to the ground.) Pause for a second or two, and return the movement to the starting position. It counts as a repetition. Repeat all the repetitions on one side, and then proceed to the other. Move slowly and under control. Keep your back flat and your hips flat and square throughout the movement.
Slow Right Leg Sit-Up
What it does: primarily targets the deep muscles of the heart and hip flexors.
How to do: lie on your back with straight legs and together. Place your hands next to your body, on your chest or behind your head (the hardest) to support yourself. Then sit down slowly—take about five seconds to complete the movement-until your torso is vertical. Slowly lower it for more than five seconds, until your torso just above the floor. Repeat the movement without lowering all the way to the floor between repetitions.
What it does: primarily targets the deep core muscles and hip flexors, while all core tension is trained.
How to do it: lie on your back with straight legs and outstretched arms. Engage your abs— again, imagine pulling your navel toward the spine-to eliminate any gap between your lower back and the floor. Then lift your arms and legs so that your body forms a flat U shape.hold this Position and gently tilt forward and backward for 60 seconds. If it is too hard, eliminate the rocking motion for a static hold of the hollow body.
Volume: 60 seconds.
What it does: first strengthens the oblique adductors and hip (inner thigh).
How to do it: lie with your foot on a bench, chair or coffee table. Your lower foot should float freely below, without touching or weighing anything. If the bench is short, place your forearm on the floor, with your elbow directly under your shoulder, bent 90 degrees. When the bench is high, place your hand on the floor under your shoulder and keep your arm straight. The idea here is to choose the position of the arm that holds your body horizontally or as close as possible. Then lift your hips to enter a side Board. Your body should form a straight line from your feet on your hips to your shoulders. Hold this Position for 60 seconds, then repeat on the other side.
This one is easy to overdo, which can strain the hip adductors, says Collinson. If it seems too difficult to you, you can make it easier by positioning the bench closer to you. This way, the inside of your leg or thigh rests on the support and not on your foot, reducing leverage.
What it does: strengthens the nucleus through the three phases of muscle contraction-concentric (lifting or shortening under load), eccentric (lowering or stretching under load) and isometric (static stop).
How to do it: grab a broomstick with your hands shoulder-width apart and start in a hollow body grip, as described above, with your arms outstretched. Sit down while putting your knees against your chest. Pass the broomstick over your feet and slowly return to the holding position of the hollow body, holding the arms outstretched and the broomstick under your legs, at the bottom of your buttocks. Stand for a few seconds, then get back in place, return the broomstick to your feet and return to the starting position. This counts as a Whammy rep-Double! Move slowly and under control. Keep your chin hidden, core
gaged, and lower back pressed firmly against the floor throughout the movement.
Volume: 12 to 15 reps.