Pay Now, Shine Later

Want to rule your favorite winter sport? You can, with this eight-week plan.

Oct 1, 2001
Outside Magazine

MOST ADULTS INVEST about as much time fitness training for winter sports as children do for hurling snowballs. Dumb move, says Kevin Sweeney, head ski coach at the University of Utah, where the team has won three NCAA ski championships under his watch. "The enjoyment factor grows exponentially when you're able to do more," he says. "In cross-country, skate-skiing at two miles an hour is not a lot of fun compared to being able to glide along at ten or 12 miles an hour. And in downhill, you just won't be able to take advantage of the new sidecuts and carve solid turns unless you have the leg strength to hold the ski on edge." Our eight-week program (see summaries and chart below) is based on the regimen the Utes use every fall and optimizes four fitness elements central to winter sports: endurance, speed, power, and flexibility.

ENDURANCE Your core endurance workout is 30 to 50 minutes at a moderate level of aerobic effort. "Running, biking, skating, and swimming are all effective forms of endurance training for skiers," says Sweeney. Numbers inside parentheses refer to suggested total minutes for the workout (ditto for speed).

STRENGTH Strength will come from a total-body strength circuit. Do a single set of ten to 15 repetitions at each of eight to ten stations, alternating between lower-body and upper-body movements. Sample circuit: leg press, bench press, forward lunge, lat pulldown, calf raise, dumbbell shoulder press, back extension, triceps pushdown, stomach crunch, biceps curl. Numbers inside parentheses in the schedule refer to suggested repetitions of the complete circuit.

SPEED Turbocharge your core endurance workout by adding half a dozen 90-second speed bursts, separated by two-minute, low-intensity recoveries. Start with a 25-minute warm-up, fold in the intervals, and then cool down for twenty minutes or so.

FLEXIBILITY Improve your flexibility by incorporating it into the strength circuit. Stretch easily before your training session; then, after each exercise, thoroughly stretch the muscle group you just worked.

  Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
WEEK 1 (30 min.)   (1 rep.) (30 min.)   (1 rep.)  
WEEK 2 (35 min.)   (1 rep.) (35 min.)   (2 reps.)  
WEEK 3 (40 min.)   (2 reps.) (40 min.)   (2 reps.) (40 min.)
WEEK 4   (40 min.)   (3 reps.)   (40 min.)  
WEEK 5 (40 min.)   (3 reps.) (40 min.)   (3 reps.)  
WEEK 6 (45 min.)   (3 reps.) (40 min.)   (3 reps.) (45 min.)
WEEK 7 (50 min.)   (3 reps.) (40 min.)   (3 reps.) (50 min.)
WEEK 8   (40 min.)   (3 reps.)   (50 min.)