Get Into Ski Shape

Man skiing on a snow path surrounded by snowy trees near Chateaux Deer Valley


The name of the game is strong core and legs for this ski season. With a few exercises each week, your body will be ready to ski the pristine slopes at Deer Valley Resort. (Be sure to consult your physician before beginning any new workout routine.)

Skiing is an excellent overall body workout, but some areas of the body need more fine-tuning than others to be prepped for a successful (and less sore) ski season. Our fitness instructors recommend focusing on your primary ski muscle groups: abs, glutes, hamstrings, quads, and lower back. There are a myriad of different exercises you can do to focus on these areas. The exercise recommendations can be altered for current injuries or soreness and can be done both at home or in a fitness facility both with or without weights. We encourage you to consult with your physician before adding any new exercises into your fitness plan.

Common exercises that can be done almost anywhere. As with any exercise routine, form is critical. Do not sacrifice form at any time. And repetition will build the muscle areas.

Many of the below popular exercises will work several muscle groups. These basic exercises focus on building core ski muscles: quads, hamstrings, glutes, abs, lower back, and arms. Do these (or similar) exercises a few times a week for 3 weeks leading up to your ski trip for maximum benefit and to feel your best on the snowy trails.


  • Plank: Hold a plank pose until you can’t hold your form any longer. Rest for 1 minute, then repeat.
  • Side Plank: On your hand or forearm, align your body into a straight line and push up from the ground. Hold for 30 seconds, then switch sides. If this is too easy, then raise the top leg into the air while holding. Rest for 15 seconds, then repeat on both sides.
  • Leg Raise: Lying down on your back, straighten your legs and hold them approximately 3 inches from the floor. Slowly scissor kick your legs up and down without letting the leg or foot touch the ground. Do this for a count of 15 per leg (or 30 total scissor kicks). If this is easy, increase the reps. Rest for 30 seconds, then repeat. If this is uncomfortable for your lower back, you may not have the correct form. If you have lower back pain or issues, you may need to select a different ab exercise if this aggravates your lower back.


  • Bridge Pose: lying on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the ground, raise your hits and engage your glutes. Hold for as long as you can. Rest 30 seconds, then repeat. Elevate the difficulty by raising one leg in the air and holding, then switch legs and hold on the other side.
  • Kickbacks: Start on all fours. Lift one leg while maintaining a 90-degree angle in your knee. Pulse your foot into the air for a count of 30 reps. Switch and do the other leg. Rest for 20 seconds, then repeat two more times.
  • Squats: Using bodyweight (or you can add free weights for an additional challenge) perform a standing squat. Be sure to use good form as you do not want your knee extending over your foot when you bend down for the squat. We also love the step-out squat option for this exercise. Start with feet about shoulder-width apart, then step out wider than your shoulders into your typical squat stance width, squat down, and return your feet to the shoulder-width distance. Repeat 20 times on one side, then switch. Add a resistance band to increase difficulty.


  • Wall Sits: An oldie, but a goodie! Wall sits are a great overall leg workout. Aim for a 90-degree angle in your knees, engage your legs and core, and try to hold for 90 seconds. Take a 30 second break, then repeat two more times.
  • Deadlifts: Using either free weights, a barbell, or any type of weighted object in your home or office, bend your knees slightly and hinge forward at the hips while keeping a straight spine. Lower the weights to your mid-shin, then with a straight back, pop up to a standing position and squeeze your glutes when you get to a standing position.
  • Single-Leg Deadlift: This really isolates each leg individually and requires one leg at a time to engage and execute this pose correctly. Standing with feet hip width apart, put all your weight on one foot. Keeping a straight spine, hinge at your hips and lean forward with the other foot going straight back and your arm on the same side extended toward the floor. Be sure to hold your stomach in to engage your core. Return to a standing position and tighten your glutes. Do 15 reps, then switch to the other foot. You can add a dumbbell or weighted object to increase the difficulty on this one.


  • Lunges: Standing forward lunges until exhausted. Standing back lunges until exhausted. Pay attention to form. Looking to make it more difficult? Make it a jumping switch lunge.
  • Single-Leg Squats: This is a bit more advanced, but anyone can work up to it. If new to this one, it is easier to begin with bending the knee of the leg you are not squatting with. The more advanced version is to hold the leg straight out in front of you while you squat with your other leg. Regardless of which approach you take, form is key here.
  • Step Ups: find an area where you can step up to a taller height (more than a single stair step). Do as many as you can on one leg. Rest for 30 seconds, then repeat on the other leg. Do this on each side three times total. Want to make it harder, add free weights.


  • Superman: Lying face down on the floor, pull your legs and arms up and away from each other and extend your entire body. Hold this for 10 seconds, release and allow your arms and legs to return to the floor for 5 seconds, then lift again and repeat. Do this 3 times.
  • Bird Dogs: Get on all fours, then extend the right arm forward and left leg back so that both are parallel to the ground. Return to all fours and then extend the left arm forward and right leg back until both are parallel to the floor. Do a set number on each side. Rest for 30 seconds, then repeat two more times. These improve core strength and promote a neutral spine.
  • Lateral Leg Lifts: Lying on your side with your body in a straight line, brace your head in your hand. Using your upper arm, place your hand in front of you on the floor for stability, then slowly raise the top leg while engaging your core for body stability. Repeat on one leg for 20 reps, then switch to your other side and repeat with that leg for 20 reps.

Okay, so not a specific muscle group, but cardio is super important for overall physical health and greater endurance throughout the ski day. Anywhere from 20 to 60 minutes - depending on your existing fitness level - will have a great impact on your stamina to take another run when you are gliding through the champagne powder this season.


Lunges, squats, wall sits, and any leg muscle exercises are highly relevant for optimal ski conditioning because these motions are essentially the same as the twisting and turning motions used while skiing down the mountain. Planks do more than just help tighten your core. They do wonders for your lower back and arm strength - all used for proper ski form. Core and lower back exercises are necessary as everything relies on these key muscle groups. And cardio work ensures you can stay on the mountain all day if you want to.

As with any exercise routine or plan, the recovery time can be equally important. Be sure to plan for appropriate recovery periods in your week. Below are some basic and simple recovery tips.

We highly recommend a soak in a cold bath for sore muscles. Be sure to consult your physician if you experience unusual or prolonged pain or discomfort.

Don’t forget to stretch! Often overlooked, stretching can be a great idea both before taking to the trails… and definitely after. You can do a quick 10-minute stretch or yoga session first thing in the morning to wake up those muscles and create length in the body. This is a smart addition to your weekly workout routine regardless of your activities. During the ski season, after a great day at the resort, be sure to stretch out those core muscle groups to reduce soreness for the next day.

Most of us do not get enough water each day. Make a goal for “x” ounces of water consumption each day and meet that goal for a consistent period of time, such as two weeks. Once you reach that goal, grow your goal to be more ounces a day and aim to hit that goal for another two weeks. Your body will thank you!

With the optimistic snowfall predictions for this season, you will want to be here this winter season! Get those muscles ready and hit the slopes for a full day of powdery fun.