The more slope time you log, the fewer weighted squats and other quad-bulking exercises you need to do this winter. Instead, shift your focus to preventing injury with these three tasks: increasing your flexibility, building muscle endurance and strengthening the muscles you neglect on the mountain. Fortunately, you don’t need to overload your PDA to fit it all into your schedule—there’s a skier-friendly workout that seamlessly blends all three in 30 minutes or less. Known by several aliases—Iron Yoga, YogaStrength, Buff Yoga—the workout combines yoga poses with traditional weight lifting for efficient—and testosterone-friendly—training. Even if you’d rather ski in hot-pink snowpants than do yoga, consider the on-hill results before you brush the idea aside. First, yoga keeps your muscles in balance, simultaneously stretching and strengthening opposing muscle groups (quads and hamstrings, for example). And well-balanced muscles mean fewer injuries, especially in your knees and lower back. “Yoga is good preventive medicine for skiers,” says Danny Poole, a Denver-based yoga instructor whose clients have included skiers such as Olympian Jeremy Bloom and professional athletes ranging from Carmelo Anthony to Barry Bonds. It can also give your technique a boost by improving your ski posture and expanding your range of motion. “And if you’re injured, you can recover more easily,” says Poole.
Holding poses for several minutes also contributes to greater muscle endurance, a stronger core and better balance—all of which are vital on the mountain. “Yoga can help when you’re in tight spots because it gives you an awareness of your breathing, especially when you’re stressed,” Poole says. “It reminds you to breathe and teaches you to relax.” Mixing in weights not only allows you to tone your upper body, which skiers often neglect, it also gives your workout an athletic edge.
If you’re convinced but not sure your ski buddies would understand, here’s a series of exercises—adapted from the Iron Yoga program, developed by nationally ranked Ironman triathlete Anthony Carillo—that you can do at home. And when your friends wonder why you’re ripping it up this season, you don’t have to say a word.
DO IT RIGHT
Ease into this workout. Try the poses without weights for a week or two. Then graduate to three- to five-pound weights. That might sound wimpy, but you’ll be surprised at how challenging it actually is.
Go through this sequence twice if time allows. Perform the weight reps slowly—about five seconds per rep. And if you’re a yoga newbie, consider attending a class or two to learn effective breathing and alignment techniques.