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  • Writer's pictureJason St Clair Newman

1 Skiing Specific Exercise you should be doing.

You've probably done lots of different leg exercises in preparation for skiing, but I bet you probably haven't done this one.

I've skied for a while now since I was 12 (I'm 47 in 2022), not so much in the past years due to family, covid and a few other commitments, but now my son is getting little older heading back to the slopes is something I want to do sooner versus later.

I've helped prepare skiers of all levels from your first timer to your back country hiking for lines in a helicopter steep and deep skier.

Being prepared for skiing is super important the stresses it places on your body are pretty high, a lot higher than what most people prepare for in my experience.

You've seen it .. ski season started, February and there's people hobbling around the streets in knee braces wearing ski jackets.

I have been unlucky to have torn 2 meniscus (not skiing) had surgery on one and was able to rehab it and go on one of the best trips of my life to Utah about 12 weeks later (great snow in Utah they don't lie)


Being properly prepared was key, and using one of the best ski specific exercises I know that everyone I prepare for ski season (and pre and post knee rehab) does sometime in their programme - the King Squat.

The King Squat

This exercise was taught to me by Australian Strength and Conditioning Coach Ian King, if I remember rightly it was just his version of a single leg squat, but I started calling it the King Squat more for my own reference as it is a different version.

But he gets all the credit, I hadn't seen or performed his version before and it's been a stable in my programmes ever since.


Why is this exercise so great for skiing?

As I mentioned in the introduction the forces in skiing can be quite high, a lot more than what people imagine and a lot more than what many prepare for.

24-48% % of the injuries in skiing occur in the lower body and forces are around 2 x your bodyweight (forces can increase as steepness of the slope, velocity or landings from jumps are included.

The reason this exercise is so good is because (1)

  1. You work on a single leg so forces are higher

  2. It requires not only strength but stability and control (which are components of strength anyway)

  3. It has a strength endurance component to it as well

  4. It also uses an isometric contraction - having to hold one position for a period of time

King Squat and It's set up

Video's are the best way - so I have included one here.

But also here is the explanation in case you don't understand my Kiwi accent.

  1. Set up with a box height that is 6-8 inches off the ground to begin (as a side note you can increase this height over time to make this even harder and work at bigger rages of motion.

  2. Stand on the box with one leg barefoot, and have the opposite leg off the ground next to it with your foot pulled up.

  3. Slowly lower yourself down towards to ground with the leg that is on the box by bending your knee and keeping it in line with the space between your big toe and second toe.

  4. Touch the ground with the heel of your free leg (not the toes) - this is key as it stops you reaching with your foot to the ground and decreasing the range of the movement.

  5. Push back up to the start position just short of locking out your knee.

  6. Repeat this process NINE times

  7. On the TENTH movement begin lowering again but this time stop just above the ground around 1cm and stay there for a 10seconds (use a clock, as most people count very fast when they are in this position for some reason)

  8. Push back up to the top position on the tenth second and repeat the process again for another set of 9+1

  9. Your target is 50 total reps without stopping and keeping good form.

Just Do it

So what if you can't get to 50 reps?

Simple... wherever you get to the first time you try the king squat, make note of it in your training diary and next time try to beat it even if it's just by one rep.

The key is consistency so keep at it.

It's in the hips (and ankle)

So is this exercise working the knee?

No not directly but basically knee stability can be affected by a feed down or feed up response- your hips feeding down to the knee and your foot and ankle complex feeding up.

When these are working well they help produce stability of the knee.

The great thing about this exercise is it works all those areas at the same time!

One tip when doing this exercise - try to keep your hips level as much as possible it's quite common for the leg you are working to collapse and start pushing outwards at the hip, this will result in your other hip dropping towards the ground and the free leg dropping.

No Equipment Needed

The beauty of this exercise is you don't need any equipment, you can make it harder and harder by increasing the box height and repeating the sequence and it has lots of crossover to other sports as well so more bang for your buck.

What else do I do to prepare?

I would be stupid to say this is the only exercise you should do however I I would say its's better than not doing it.

But there are lots of other factors that should also be considered in a ski programme, explosive exercises, other strength movements, flexibility and conditioning and

I even work on falling with skiers. One exercise doesn't make a programme but the King Squat is in everyones ski programme I write.. no argument.

Let me know how it goes and any questions you may have on the exercise.

If you are interested in getting a ski specific programme designed for you, one-to-one coaching for ski preparation feel free to reach out to me. Click here to see the options

Now you have one of my secret weapons for skiing preparation, give it a try you won't regret it!

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