Building balance and stability at home will translate to your skills on the mountain.
To become a more solid skier and enjoy your time on the slopes, you have to build strength, something that Tonal Strength Institute’s Senior Director Troy Taylor knows well.
As the former High Performance Director for the U.S. Ski and Snowboarding teams, Taylor spent years fine-tuning performance and injury-prevention strategies for some of the most elite skiers in the world. The secret to boosting your performance? The work you put in at home.
“Even the best skiers in the world only get to ski a certain number of days per year. For a recreational skier, it’s a couple of weeks or weekends here and there, so preparing yourself physically, all from your own home on Tonal, can help you make the most out of your time on the slopes,” says Taylor.
Whether you’re hitting black diamonds or you just want to get safely down the mountain, strength training is easier, more efficient, and safer than ever with Tonal’s smart features, digital weight, and dynamic weight modes. You’ll be ready to conquer any run with these seven exercises for skiing, selected by Taylor and specifically designed to challenge the muscles and movement demands of the slopes.
How to use this list: Taylor recommends spreading out the exercises below across three to four workouts weekly. Aim for power endurance, hitting 12 to 20 reps, keeping power output high on each rep. Start with 2 to 3 sets and build up to 4 to 5 as you get closer to your ski trip. Or try the full Tonal workout programs listed below.
1. Racked Reverse Lunge
How to do it: Facing Tonal, take a handle in each hand, and place your feet hip-width apart, lined up with the end of the arms. Bring the handles just outside the shoulders with palms facing each other. In a continuous dynamic movement, step left foot back and bend left knee so it comes just above the floor creating a 90-degree angle. Push the floor away from you with your right foot to return to the starting position and then repeat on the same side. Complete the reps then repeat on the opposite side.
Why it works: “This is a great movement for really targeting your quadriceps while also making your core work overtime to maintain an upright posture,” says Taylor. “The added challenge of maintaining single-leg balance ensures this exercise is a sure-fire way to improve your turns.”
2. Single-Arm Squat With Row
How to do it: With right hand grasping the handle and right arm extended, send your hips back to squat down like you’re sitting into a chair. As you stand, pull the handle toward your torso using your lats and rotate the palm to face your ribcage. Extend the arm and rotate the palm to face the floor as you lower back down to squat and repeat.
Why it works: This exercise targets your posterior chain while challenging your balance, stability, and core, notes Taylor. The strong, upright form in a dynamic movement of the squat and row mimics the stability you need when you hit unpredictable bumps on the slopes.
3. Iso Split Squat Chop
How to do it: Holding the handle with both hands, take two big steps to the side, away from Tonal, and get into a half-kneeling position with your outside knee on the mat and your inside leg planted on the floor in front of you, arms extended and hands near your inside ear. Lift the back knee just above the mat. Without moving your hips, bring the handle across your body and down toward the opposite hip, rotating only at the torso. Aim your hands to where you buckle a seatbelt. Using your core, return the weight to the starting position and repeat.
Why it works: This advanced exercise challenges the deep knee bend you see in skiing with an isometric hold and a dynamic core move. “Getting into a full range of motion on a single-leg split squat and adding resistance is most likely one of the most sport-relevant exercises you could do for skiing,” says Taylor. “Add a core component, and you are bound to feel more stable and powerful in your skiing.”
4. Iso Split Squat Single-Arm Chest Press
How to do it: Position yourself slightly to the side of Tonal’s arm so the arm is on the same side as your back leg. Take the handle on the same side and extend it in front of your chest. Lift the back knee just above the mat. Bring the arm back by bending the elbow, with the forearm about 45 degrees from the ribcage and parallel with the floor. Press your fist straight forward to finish with your hand in front of your chest (a single-arm version of the above). Complete the reps then repeat on the other side.
Why it works: As you complete and transition in your turns during alpine skiing, resisting the rotational forces in conjunction with gravity is key, according to Taylor. The ability to perform a single-arm chest press while in a lunge position will prepare you for that demand all while practicing that deep lunge position in an isometric hold.
5. Single-Leg Romanian Deadlift
How to do it: Face Tonal and stand tall slightly behind the end of the arm. Take one Smart Handle with your left hand. Hinge at the hips and with a slight bend in the right knee, lift your right leg straight back, dropping your upper body as the leg lifts. Imagine your torso is a barbell reaching from your heel to your head, keeping your body straight and almost parallel to the floor. Use the right glute to power the torso back up and repeat on the same side.
Why it works: Taylor notes, “Since so much force lands on the outside of your ski on a turn, it’s almost like you’re skiing on one leg. Unilateral work with dynamic stability and adding a balance component such as in single-leg RDL certainly adds to the sport-relevant skills needed in skiing.”
6. Goblet Split Squat
How to do it: Hold the handle at the strap with thumbs wrapped around the top, place it in front of the chest and position yourself in a split stance over the mat, feet about hip-width apart. Drop your back knee to the mat, creating 90-degree angles with the knees. Press your front heel down like it’s glued to the floor and power up and repeat on the same side.
Why it works: “The goblet split squat requires strength, stability, and coordination, which makes it a great exercise for skiing,” says Taylor. “And adding resistance to that deep knee flexion position helps you build more strength and resilience so you experience less fatigue during your ski runs and less soreness hours later.”
7. Lateral Bench Jump
How to do it: Wrap your hands around the sides of the bench and place your feet to one side with the knees soft. Keeping your arms strong and your grip tight, make the shape of a rainbow with your feet by jumping up to bring your legs and torso to the opposite side of the bench. Keep your shoulders over your wrists and move back and forth quickly.
Why it works: The lateral movement side-to-side with your lower body and the anaerobic component of this exercise will test your core and cardio capabilities that are key for staying upright on your skis down the run without taking breaks. “Thirty-second intervals will get your heart pounding and breathing hard,” adds Taylor. “If you go for 60-second intervals or more, you’ll be feeling the ski-like burn in your legs.”
The Top 6 Tonal Workouts That Target Ski-Specific Muscles:
When you’re ready to take the next challenge, try one of these coach-led workouts.
- Overachiever Challenge: This fast-paced, high-intensity workout will blast your glutes, hamstrings, and quads—key players on the slopes. The main barbell exercises will build strength in the muscles you rely on while skiing, and the skater jumps will challenge your lateral stability and power for those quick turns as you weave down the mountain.
- Leg Pumper: Get all of your lower-body strength and endurance in one place with combinations of full range-of-motion squats and deadlifts. You’ll learn to ace that deep flexion you’ll experience when you ski and perform explosive jump squats and lunges to build a powerful turn.
- Starting With Legs: Balance your strength with mobility for skiing with this foundational routine. Iso split squats and step-ups will build your balance, flexibility, and single-leg strength while a pull-through and deadlift will power up your hips and glutes for maximum stability to get you on the slopes healthy and injury-free.
- Leg Day Burn: Feel the burn now so you don’t have to on your ski runs. This workout builds in timed intervals of your favorite hip dominant moves with isometric holds on single-leg movements to mimic the turns you’ll be facing on the downhill.
- Intense Leg Crush: You will be seriously ready to face the tougher runs over and over again with this 49-minute high-intensity workout designed to make you a stronger athlete. Combining lower body strength, core stability, and resisted lateral movement will have you primed and ready to hit the ski lift.
- Lower Body Build: Combining ultimate strength, mobility, and core stability is key to building a strong foundation and with low reps and high resistance, you’ll be a powerhouse on your skis with this lower body build.