Mountain biking and skiing are two of the best adrenaline-fueled outdoor activities around and surprisingly, they actually share a lot of similarities, particularly when it comes to how your body moves, your strength and balance.
As mountain bikers, we’ve actually provided ourselves with the perfect training regimen to prepare for when the snow flies, especially when it comes to cardiovascular fitness. But there are other forms of exercise that we can incorporate to build strength, improve flexibility, and enhance balance and coordination, so that we’re in peak condition (pun intended) for ski season after a long summer of riding bikes.
Before we get into the nitty gritty, let’s talk about why it’s important to prepare our bodies for the transition from dirt to snow.
If we’ve said it once, we’ve said a hundred times: injury prevention is numero uno. Both mountain biking and skiing require a ton of physical exertion and even if you’re the best on the mountain, there’s always the risk of injury. Building strength and improving your flexibility will help to reduce injury by allowing you to maintain proper form and technique.
Like we mentioned above, if you’ve been pedalling at BG all summer, you’re probably a cardio god by now. But skiing actually requires a different set of muscles and endurance levels, so it’s always best to round out our cardio with an additional exercise. That way you can keep lapping again and again and again.
Better balance and coordination are no brainers: they’re critical for both mountain biking and skiing. And when you’re more balanced on your skis, you’ll feel more confident in your movements and keen to take on more challenging terrain.
Finally, it’s important to maintain your overall fitness level throughout the year, no matter the season. As we head into the dreaded inversion season, don’t get caught inside! Stick to your fitness routine and try to get out there for a variety of activities.
Alright, let’s jump into some exercises you can do to help with the transition.
Squats are a bangin’ exercise for building leg strength, which is essential for skiing. As mountain bikers, we already have strong leg muscles and adding squats to your fitness routine pre-winter will only enhance the thunder thighs that you’re packing!
To perform a squat correctly, stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, keep your back straight and lower your body as if you’re sitting on an invisible chair. Hold your down position for a few seconds to really feel the burn and then stand back up. Rinse and repeat!
Lunges target your glutes, quads and hamstrings, all of which are crucial for skiing. When you do your lunge, step forward with one foot and bend your knee until your thigh is parallel to the ground. Then, push back up and repeat on your opposite leg.
Pro tip: if you want to target your glutes more, step your foot back into your lunge instead of forward. Give it a go and you’ll feel that booty!
Planks are great for building core strength, which is essential for maintaining balance on the bike and while skiing. Get into a push-up position and hold your body in a straight line, with your elbows bent and weight on your forearms. Hold for 30 seconds to 1 minute, rest then repeat.
The key to a good plank is to check in with your body every few seconds, make sure your butt isn’t popping up too high and your back isn’t curving inward. Remember to breathe steadily, engage your core and think happy thoughts.
Balance is essential for skiing and while we mountain bike all summer, we’re getting great practice. Some things you can do to help supplement your training include standing on one leg and holding for as long as possible, standing on a balance board or wobble board and doing yoga.
Finally, stretching. Mountain biking can be tough on the body and you should already be stretching regularly to help prevent injury and improve your flexibility. Luckily for you, we wrote on a blog solely dedicated to this topic not too long ago, give it a read here.
Mountain biking is an amazing way to prepare for the upcoming ski season – so just get out there! And by complementing your riding with exercises like squats, lunges, balance training and stretching, you’ll be in top shape for the high alpine. Happy skiing!