Jumping rope is a HIGHLY under-rated ski conditioning exercise. Now the best time to prepare for the ski season is in May. Starting to think about it in December is less than optimal. Many of our senior fitness clients love skiing and always want their exercise prescriptions to prepare them for hitting the slopes. However, if ski season has caught you unprepared, or under-prepared you need to do something fast.
While we do a great job in fulfilling these requests I’ve been thinking about the demands of the sport and how to introduce similar challenges/stimuli to our training.
Most people know they need to strengthen their thighs, maybe throw in a few stretches to stay limber and they are good to go. These are also the people that don’t understand why they get/got hurt or why their performance keeps decreasing each season.
To ski at a high level you need a few things:
- Stamina to do multiple long runs all day long (or however long you want to go)
- dynamic balance to stay over your skis
- Visual training (pick your line, avoid obstacles)
- coordination (putting together lots of movements in a sort of rhythm)
When looking at the actual motion of skiing, you are in a crouch-not a full squat, and your doing lots of pulses or little hops (sharp turns or moguls). As high performance coaches for the masters athlete we are always searching for what will give us the most bang for our buck when picking exercises for sport conditioning.
Why do 5 exercises if you can get it all done with 1?
Jumping rope for ski conditioning
This may not tick ALL the boxes of what you need, but it covers a lot of them, which is why I’m writing about this. Jumping rope is definitely over-looked when it comes to skiing. Most people jump rope just as a way to get in shape if you are under 30 years old, or if you are a running (track/x-country) athlete.
What does skiing give you?
Jumping rope definitely scores high in the stamina. If you can jump/skip rope for 5 mins straight, you’ll be able to string several top to bottom runs together.
Jumping rope also gives you a visual stimulus to watch out for all while training your coordination of skipping/jumping at the right time or in that specific rhythm. If you ski moguls, you’ll know there’s a high level of timing and finesse to make it look and feel smooth. You will also have some dynamic balance as you try some specific head, and body drills with the rope. You can easily incorporate sport-specific motions into jumping rope. As you get used to the impact from jumping that is your bodies way of getting stronger to absorb and produce forces. So you will get a little stronger (not tons, but your tendons will see a big boost).
Ski conditioning drills with the jump rope
- The Basic Bounce. Start with what we call the basic bounce. This is jumping off both feet as the rope passes under you. Keep your knees soft, and stay on the balls of your feet.
- Half turns. Start with a basic bounce, but rotate your lower body about 45 degrees as you jump over the rope. This is great to simulate the turning motion of skiing.
- Basic bounce w/head turns. Keeping jumping, but now rotate your head to the side. You can do this keeping your eyes forward, or letting your eyes follow your head motion. This will really challenge your dynamic balance, and your vision.
So while a jump rope may not solve all the problems you need to solve for a phenomenal ski season, it does cover many of them making it a great minimalist go-to solution for ski conditioning.