Getting ready for ski season
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Getting in decent shape for ski season is easy enough if you've kept up the cardio with some running, hiking, biking or paddling through the off season. But if you want to up your game and hit the hills charging (and who doesn't?) then some focused exercise targeting key muscle groups and movements can help elevate your game.
As the leaves turn and the temps cool, now is the time to ramp up the squats, lunges, agility and balance so your legs and mind are ready for the slopes. Here are some interesting ways to build up those quads and glutes without a gym membership.
Backwards walking the dog up a hill. Yeah, you may look funny but what you are doing is building muscle endurance in your quads and glutes. If you've got a treadmill, start at a slow pace and increase the incline. Carefully turn around to face backwards. Get comfortable walking backwards then squat and walk like a duck backwards. Maybe hold the treadmill arms as this is tricky. After three reps of three minutes, you will be whooped. If you are walking the dog anyway, find a hill and see what the dog thinks as you waddle up backwards.
Do squats waiting for your coffee to reheat. Don't just stand there watching the microwave clock count down, use that time for squat jumps. Start with your feet shoulder-width apart then squat like you are tucking for the finish line. Use the clock to trigger an explosive jump high in the air. Try to not knock out the ceiling fan before landing softly on the balls of your feet to gracefully go back to the tuck position. Try to do four sets of four while waiting for your coffee.
Milk crates aren't for milk anymore. They're for bashing moguls. Who needs a fancy gym when you've got a sturdy box to bounce off for lateral box jumps. Flip the crate upside down and make sure it's solid on the grass or grippy floor. Stand to one side and start the timer. See how many times you can jump up onto the box then to the floor or lawn on the other side then reverse the process in the other direction. Hop up and down, back and forth as many times as you can in 30 seconds for three reps. Work on your speed and control to improve your speed and control on the moguls.
Kitchen chairs are great for strength and dynamic balance. Improving your gluts, quads, hamstrings, calves and core is as easy as sitting down for lunch 48 times. On one leg, slowly (with your arms reaching ahead for balance), lower your body down to the chair. You might want to start with a stool that is higher because this really tests your balance and your muscle control. Focus on good form. Keep your head up, chest out and even balance on your foot and heel. Also, keep your knee aligned with your foot. Make sure you rise to a straight position before starting again to challenge all the muscles. Try three sets of eight reps on each leg to start.
Improve your balance by brushing your teeth with your eyes shut. It's not as easy as it sounds. Load up the toothbrush and instead of staring at your bed-head, shut your eyes and stand on one leg and keep brushing. Switch legs after one minute. Not only will you have great teeth, you will improve your body's positional sense which is great for riding or skiing in white-outs or when you lose your balance.
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