Lately I have been getting into doing more Olympic lifts at the gym and pushing for max strength. When doing max strength exercises you really need to focus on technique because there is a greater risk of injury with poor technique. I have never been formally trained in weight lifting however and most of my knowledge comes from research on the computer, so I am no expert. I will try and breakdown 4 exercises for you, which I think are very beneficial for ski training in the off-season, to the best of my knowledge. I am not a professional though, so it wouldnít hurt to do a little of your own research when attempting these lifts. Also donít start with the heaviest weights. Work on your technique first and start with light weights, gradually moving into heavier weights.
The first exercise my training partner/Carleton coach Michael Abbott and I†did was incline bench press with dumbbells. I have read that the best tool to use is dumbbells; if you donít have dumbbells go to a bar bell and if you donít have that then use a machine. This is because you activate more muscles using just dumbbells because you need to balance the weight and keep it in line all by yourself. In terms of technique you want to keep your shoulders pressed back against your bench, go down to around 90 degrees and up to a relatively straight arm. We did in the range of 6-8 reps.
Me with the grunt face.
Mike pushing it out to full extension.
The next exercise we did was a†deadlift, I love the deadlift because it activates so many muscles, many of which are weak areas for me. The technique for the deadlift is critical because if you do it wrong you can put too much stress on your back and cause injury. I start with my feet around shoulder width, toes pointing forward. Grabbing the bar outside of your knees where it feels comfortable allows you to get in a deep squat with your back keeping its natural curve. The natural curve of your back is important because†you donít want to hunch down over the bar and you donít want to overextend your back by exaggerating its curve. Then face forward keeping your neck in line with your back, bring the bar up using your legs and keeping your upper body tight. Bring the bar up as close to your body as possible and think of it as an almost thrusting motion with your hips. Then drop the bar back down, keeping it as close to your body as possible. The most important thing is to maintain the natural curve of your back from the ground throughout the lift, to do this keep your stomach muscles tight and locked.
Trying to keep the natural curve, my shoulders could probably come back a bit.
Feet pointed forward, not too much curve in the back, shoulders could come back more.
Top position, still with good curve in the back.
The next exercise we did was overhead press with dumbbells. The technique for this is very similar to incline bench press, keeping your back against the bench, coming down to a 90 degree angle and going back up into full extension.
Around 90 degrees, one hand looks lower than other though, I do have a muscle imbalance in my shoulders.
Big Mike in Full extension.
The last exercise we did was squats. For squats you want to keep your feet around shoulder width apart, toes facing forward. When you start to squat you want your knees to track in the same line as your feet all the way through. I have heard different opinions on how deep you want to go, 90 degrees being the minimum and touching your bum to your feet being the maximum. I usually do not go much deeper than 90 degrees because I donít have the flexibility to keep my back in a natural curve going lower than that. I have also heard that you donít want your knees to get ahead of your feet, in this way you make it more of a sitting back motion. You also want to make sure the bar is not dipping on one side or the other; keep it parallel to the ground. You also want to bar to be resting on top of your shoulder in a comfortable position and not on your neck. In the squat you also have a lot of weight on your back so it is important to keep your mid section tight and in a neutral position with no extra flexion in the back. I also like to focus on the thrust of the hips in this exercise.
Feet pointed mostly forward, down to around 90 degrees, decent curve in the back, bar not even close to parallel, blaming the muscle imbalance again.
Mid squat, looks like the knees might be coming forward a little, and a bit of round in the lower back possibly, but overall, a†pretty clean squat.
These exercises hit some of the major muscle groups in skiing including the legs, butt, hips, back, shoulders and arms. Hopefully this can help you improve your skiing and give you something new to try out in the gym. Also if you disagree with anything I wrote please write me and I will change any incorrect information. Enjoy safely and work up to big weight slowly.
See you on the ski trails soon!