Alpine (downhill) skiing
(Marco Trovati/AP Photo)
Downhill skiing requires some serious lower-body strength; the glutes (rear end), calves, quads, and hip flexors all are involved, says Jennifer Burke, personal training manager at Crunch in New York. But when you're shooting downhill at 85 mph, balance is also crucial, so look for exercises that include both. Burke recommends squats while balancing on the flat, platform side of a Bosu ball, which looks like half of an inflatable exercise ball. (Warning: It's wobbly, so do it with the flat side down at first.) Also useful: single-leg balance with abduction. Stand on the floor on one foot, raise the other to the side with toes facing forward, then lower the leg back to the starting position but don't let it touch the floor, she says. (With all of these exercises, the number of sets and reps you do will be dictated by your fitness level.)
Skiing is a full-body sport, so don't neglect the abs, back, and upper body, says Gene Bridgewater, an alpine coach at the Aspen Valley Ski & Snowboarding Club in Colorado. One of his favorite moves: a power clean lift with a barbell, which involves squatting down, thighs parallel to the floor, and lifting the barbell off the floor onto the front of your shoulders. This can be tricky to learn, and you need to have the proper technique to avoid injury, so ask a trainer at the gym for guidance. Skiing requires quick bursts of energy and power, so in addition to strength work there's a lot of lactate threshold training–training at a higher heart rate than you'd use on a long-distance jog, for a shorter period of time.