Ski Conditioning

Cover: Ski Conditioning
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media
Article by Kim Hull

With ski season just around the corner, we decided to get some expert advice on putting together a ski conditioning program that would get us in top ski shape in 7-8 weeks and keep us in shape throughout ski season.

We contacted the Aspen Club & Spa, who set us up with Rachelle Edinger, a personal trainer from Aspen. While ski conditioning classes are common in mountain towns, we asked Rachelle to put together a ski conditioning program that could be done anywhere  – at home with minimal equipment or at a gym that didn’t offer ski training.

Rachelle walked us through each segment of the ski conditioning program, explaining the goals, the exercises, and what, if any, equipment was required.  She then demonstrated how to do the workout, which we captured on video. The ski conditioning program information provided is for educational and entertainment purposes only and is not to be interpreted as a recommendation for a specific treatment plan, product, or course of action. As with any fitness program, see your doctor before trying any workout to discuss one that is appropriate for you.

Ski Conditioning
Ski Conditioning
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Getting started with ski conditioning

Rachelle suggested we…

  • Start 7-8 weeks ahead of ski season for time to sufficiently train and progress
  • Start off with easier drills that are modifications of the ones done 7-8 weeks into the program
  • At 7-8 weeks, do the ski conditioning program with more intensity as a part of the progression process

Ski conditioning benefits

  • Prevents injury
  • Improves performance
  • Prepares the body for the physical demands skiing

Ski conditioning focus areas

Core & balance

Whether boarding or skiing, balance is a necessity and a strong core is fundamental for achieving balance.

Agility & power

A focus on power & jumping using different plyometric drills helps train for moguls and the more technical aspects of skiing.

Cardio & muscle endurance

  • Cardio.  At altitude, the body is under strain and with exertion, breathing can be more difficult. The goal is to train the heart for those conditions.
  • Muscular endurance. Skiing can be an all-day activity and the goal is to fight fatigue. Many injuries are a result of being tired.


Many people ski all day and wake up sore the next day. Stretching for a 15 or 20 minutes at the end of a workout or ski day will help alleviate sore muscles.

Ski Conditioning
Ski Conditioning
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

The Ski Conditioning Program

Session length

1 hour and working up to 1 1/2 hours

Program segment options

Option 1: Set up a circuit and rotate through the circuit multiple times

Option 2: Timed segments

1st 15 minutes: core & balance
2nd 15 minutes: agility & power
3rd 15 minutes: cardio & muscular endurance
4th 15 minutes: stretching

Rachelle’s tips

  • Don’t get bored with it, so change the order or exercises to make every workout different each day.
  • Start with 2 sessions per week and work up to 3 per week.
  • On off days, do some hiking, cycling, longer cardio, or yoga.
Ski Conditioning
Ski Conditioning
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Ski conditioning during ski season

Rachelle recommends using the same program during ski season but continuing to add elements increasing the difficulty.

For example, starting with a BOSU® side to side squat, progressing to adding a ball, then adding a reach with a ball – something that makes it harder each time.

We both have bad knees, so Rachelle recommended that when we do squats or lunges, to never let our knees go beyond our toes. On power drills, we are to avoid jumping if it hurts our knees.

Ski conditioning exercises: Warm-up & agility exercises on the step

Getting your body ready for exercise and your muscles loose is an important part of any training program. Rachelle uses the fitness step with a variety of exercises as a warm-up. Following the warm-up, we do some side-to-side squats, wide squats, and side to side steps reaching up with a ball for agility and power training.

To start: 30 seconds on each drill, 30 seconds off, with a goal to work up to 1 minute for each drill with a 20-second break.

  • Equipment used: Fitness step and a medicine or weighted ball.
  • Focus: Warm-up, agility & power

Ski conditioning exercises: BOSU® ball

The BOSU ball, which stands for “both sides up” or “both sides utilized,” is a versatile exercise tool that can provide an efficient method for performing ski exercises. The BOSU ball looks like half of a stability ball connected to a platform and was invented  by David Weck. The  U.S. Olympic Ski Team has used BOSU balls to improve core strength and balance.

Rachelle’s recommended BOSU ball ski exercises include side to side agility drills, pushing off/jumps, pushing off into a squat, a variety of balance exercises and held squats. For the held squats, we started with a 30-second hold and are working up to a minute, with active recovery – marching in place – in between.

By turning the  BOSU ball over, additional exercises such as planks and pushups can further help strengthen the core and upper body.

  • Equipment used: BOSU ball
  • Focus: Agility, balance, core, and power drills

Ski conditioning exercises: Core & Balance

A key part of any ski training program is core strengthening. A strong core is fundamental for achieving balance – something every skier or snowboarder must have.

For this segment of our ski training program, Rachelle introduced the balance discs. Balance discs are inflatable disc cushions that are inexpensive, portable and significantly add balance challenges to the ski training program. We started with a basic single-leg squat on the floor without the discs, using something to balance ourselves (bar, stick, ski pole).

  • Equipment used: Balance discs, medicine ball, ski pole
  • Focus: Core strengthening & balance

As we progress with the ski training program, Rachelle outlined ways to increase the difficulty:

  • Eliminate the stick and move on to the balance discs with basic squats or held squats
  • Add a weight or medicine ball to the squats on the balance discs
  • Add a twist with the ball to the squats on the discs

Ski conditioning exercises: No equipment needed

In this segment, Rachelle shows us how to train for skiing without any equipment, just using our own body weight. Bodyweight exercises are great because they can be done at home without equipment or when traveling.

  • Equipment required: None
  • Focus: Agility, balance & strength

Exercises: A variety of squats and lunges including jump squats, switched lunge, skaters.

Training for skiing without equipment

Ski conditioning exercises: TRX® Ski Training

Ski Conditioning
Ski Conditioning
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Developed by a former US Navy SEAL, TRX is a strength and core conditioning training system that adds a stability challenge to hundreds of exercises.

TRX is used by athletes and teams throughout the NFL®, MLB®, UFC®, NHL® and NBA®, by tactical athletes in all four branches of the US military, and by trainers and fitness enthusiasts at major gyms and studios throughout the world.

Two popular TRX solutions – the TRX Suspension Trainer and the TRX Rip™ Trainer  – add a new level of challenge to a ski workout.

Ski Conditioning
Ski Conditioning
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Using the TRX Rip™ Trainer

The TRX Rip Trainer is a resistance cord system for developing core strength.

As Rachelle demonstrates, the TRX Rip Trainer can be added to a ski workout by performing a squat press or a squat row, or using it as a slapshot for core strengthening and endurance.

The TRX Suspension Trainer uses your own bodyweight as resistance and is scalable to all levels of fitness and intensity. The TRX Suspension Trainer adds numerous strengthening exercise options to a ski workout for core, upper body and lower body.

Disclosure & disclaimer: Special thanks to Rachelle and to Aspen Club and Spa. The content & opinions expressed are entirely our own. Reviews are opinion only and Chasing Light Media accepts no responsibility for how the information is used.

Ski Conditioning
Ski Conditioning
Photo: Greg K. Hull © Chasing Light Media