Be Fit to Ski

A Complete Guide to Alpine Skiing Fitness


Repost of Eccentric Strength

Posted on November 6, 2018 at 7:00 PM

I'm reposting this from a while back because it answers the primary question that people ask me. And that is, "I ride my bike all summer long so I'm in really good aerobic shape. Why do my legs burn when I go out and ski?"

One consistent finding from research on elite skiers is muscle activity in alpine skiing is dominated by eccentric contractions of the knee extensors and flexors (quads and hamstrings). To control the impact of the pending "landing", the muscles contract eccentrically, meaning they elongate under tension. If the quad muscles in the outside leg don’t contract eccentrically during the ski turn, we'd just crumple to the ground in a heap.

During the summer months I love to get on my road bike but I also know that the pedal stroke is primarily dependent on concentric rather than eccentric leg contractions. To train specifically for skiing, set aside some training time for building eccentric strength. It's not too late to add lunges and squats into your indoor routine.

During resistance training exercises, take 4-6 seconds on the lowering portion of the exercise be it squats, leg extensions, or hamstring pulls. Essentially you need to control the descent. Novice weight lifters should start with 50% of 1RM and experienced lifters can go as high as 80% 1RM. The same approach applies to body weight exercises like lunges or single leg squats.

See you on the hill!


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