Three exercises to improve your carving

There is nothing quite like the feeling of putting your skis on their edges and feeling that bite and drive as your skis accelerate you around an awesome carving turn. It’s one of the many reasons why we fall in love with skiing and keep going back for more year after year.

To help you get even more out of your carving this winter here are three great exercises that will prepare your body for the techniques and forces involved in drawing those smooth arcs.

1. Side plank rotations

The body angles and forces experienced when completing high speed carves require great core strength especially along your sides which is provided by your oblique muscles. The side plank is a great exercise to start to build strength and endurance in these muscle groups and the addition of arm and body rotations adds a dynamic element to increase and vary the loads experienced.

Lie on your side and lift your body onto one bent arm keeping your body held straight. You should just be resting on one forearm and on your feet. These are in contact with the floor on their sides, with the upper foot placed in front of the lower foot. Try not to hunch your shoulders and keep breathing a normally while you hold this strenuous position. Hold your core strong by activating your tummy muscles, drawing your belly button toward your spine. Add in a rotation of your upper body by wrapping and unwrapping your upper arm around into the gap under your body. Repeat this exercise for 20 seconds on each side.

Progress this exercise by increasing the duration you send on each side. If you really want to step it up raise and hold your upper leg above your lower leg while completing the rotations.

You can also complete the side plank rotations exercise as part of phase 1 of the SkiFit programme.

Ski fitness exercise - side plank

Ski fitness exercise - hips to wall
2. Hips to wall

This exercise really mimics the body position of carving and again develops appropriate core and leg strength as well as hip mobility to allow body-leg angulation for great carving technique.

Stand at a distance of slightly more than an arms length from a wall facing along the wall. Place your outside foot in front of and in line with your other foot. Lean on the wall with your inner hand and allow your inside hip to drop towards the wall without twisting your body. Then drive your hips back up to the start position. Repeat the hip dip and drive up, avoiding any twisting of your body, for a duration of 20 seconds. Then swap sides.

Progress this exercise by increasing the depth of your hip dip, standing further from the wall and increasing the duration of the sets.

You can also complete the hips to wall exercise as part of phase 2 of the SkiFit programme.

3. Russian twists

These are another great exercise for developing endurance and dynamic core strength particularly focused on your obliques. You will need a weight for this exercise which can be as simple as a partially filled 5 litre water bottle, or a suitable size dumbbell or kettlebell. You can use the amount of water in a bottle to provide the appropriate amount of weight, so this simple cheap option has it’s advantages!

Take a seated position on the floor. Lean your body back to an angle of approximately 45 degrees keeping your back and neck long and straight. Counter balance your lean by holding your legs together in front of you and slightly bent so only your bottom and feet are touching the floor. Hold the weight in front of your chest and rotate your body and the weight from side to side. Ensure your shoulders rotate and the bottle remains directly in front of your chest.

Start with a 30 second set of rotations and build on this with increases in the weight, increasing the speed of the rotations and the duration of the set.

You can also complete the Russian twists exercise as part of phase 2 of the SkiFit programme.

Ski fitness exercise - Russian twists

Unlike in our previous posts on exercises for commuting and brushing your teeth, we recommend that you should do these three exercises in the more conventional surroundings of your living room or even at the gym! Keep at it and you will really develop new strength and endurance that will translate directly into power through those beautiful carving turns. When I see those flowing arcs on the piste this winter I’ll know you have been doing your homework!

Tony Lowe