Lindsey Vonn, 24, is clearly doing something right. This spring, less than 12 months after undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery, the Minnesota native won the World Cup overall title (the first U.S. woman to do so since Tamara McKinney in 1983) and the World Cup downhill title, becoming the second American, male or female, ever to do so (her childhood idol Picabo Street was the first in 1995).
“Lindsey had a very long period of absolute top performances [last season],” says her trainer, Martin Hager of Red Bull’s Athletes Special Projects. “That’s only possible if fitness is there.”
In the off-season, fitness is a full-time job for Vonn. Over the past three years, much of that time has been spent on heart-rate-zone bike workouts to build her endurance, which is now one of her best assets. “The last three weeks of the season is when a lot of the girls start to get tired, but I had a lot of energy left,” Vonn says. “At World Cup finals, I had personal bests in almost every event.”
Vonn is consistently strong, powerful and flexible, and she works hard to improve what doesn’t come as naturally: agility, coordination and single-leg balance. “I’ve done a lot of quickness and agility exercises the past few years,” she says. “I don’t like them, but they’ve helped me tremendously in the technical events.” And now she’s got the World Cup globe to prove it.
Increase agility, coordination and quickness. Improve single-leg balance. Maintain strength, power and endurance. It’s easy to find excuses to avoid agility drills: They can be complicated, they often require special equipment, and coordination gains are tough to measure. But do two or three agility sessions per week, and you’ll be springier in the bumps, livelier in the trees and better able to handle short turns and steep terrain.
Vonn stays strong and balanced with daily (except Sunday) core circuit workouts, doing three sets of eight to 10 core exercises, as well as a few upper body drills. She also performs three lower-body strength sessions a week, using traditional exercises such as squats, deadlifts and cleans. Often she incorporates pyramids: seven or eight sets of an exercise, using more weight
and fewer reps with each set. Two or three times a week, she runs ladder and hurdle exercises, doing plyo-metric jumps between agility drills.
Click here to see a few of Vonn's winning exercises.
Visit jumpusa.com to purchase agility ladders ($40–$70), hurdles ($10–$190) and other speed-training equipment. You can also try Vonn’s favorite way to improve speed and coordination: a vigorous game of tennis.