YOUR thighs burn, walking hurts and your gluteus maximus is maxed out. When you feel that badly in November, it probably means you just finished the first day of skiing. Muscles used on the slopes can atrophy during spring and summer and are ill-prepared for the relentless squatting and torque of carving S-turns or bouncing over bumps. Premature muscle fatigue gets you off slopes early, ends fun and increases risk of major injury.
To get into "ski shape" before taking to the slopes, consider a new machine — the All Mountain Master by Skier's Edge — that simulates skiing motion. I put it through the paces recently under the supervision of ski trainer Chris Drozd of Santa Monica.
It's a big, heavy machine, takes about one hour to assemble, and is hard to move — but it's a good workout. Using two rubber-tipped poles for balance, you stand on two rocking platforms and fling yourself side-to-side along sloping rails, mimicking hard S-turns. As you push down and out with your outside foot, a thick rubber cord increases resistance, the same feeling as carving downhill. It builds quadriceps and glutes and leaves you drenched in sweat and primed for the white stuff. Cost: $1,295. For details, go to http://www.skiersedge.com or call (801) 975-8100.
If you want cheaper, but effective ways to get into shape, here are some off-season exercises for around the house. Drozd recommends starting easy and building up to three sets of exercises each a few times a week during the month preceding your first ski trip.
Squats: Keep head up, chest out, arms outstretched and heels down. Lower your buttocks until thighs are parallel to the ground then hold for two seconds and stand up. Squats strengthen hamstrings, quadriceps and glutes.
Broomstick hop: Place a broomstick on the ground, crouch beside it, feet shoulder-width apart, arms forward as if holding ski poles. Flexing at the knees, hop over the broom and land in a crouching position. Gradually increase repetitions to about 60 seconds. "This isn't far removed from carving turns or doing moguls," Drozd says.
Squat twist: Hold a medicine ball or a 10-pound weight in outstretched arms and squat, twisting upper body to one side. Then, stand and twist torso to the opposite side. Repeat 10 times on each side. This works the quads and abdominal muscles.
Hoop hop: Form arms into a hoop, fingers interlocked, knuckles facing out. Hop up and put knees through the hoop. This builds calf muscles and hamstrings and helps you maintain balance while airborne, a good exercise to prepare for skiing on moguls.
Jump rope: Drozd says skipping rope is ideal aerobic conditioning for skiing because it involves crouching and hopping. Try extending jumping time to 5 or 10 minutes. It builds stamina and tones all leg muscles while providing aerobic conditioning.