The below is a repost of the interview done by LifeBalance.
Ski and snowboard season is upon us – the wait is almost over! We wanted to find out more about how to prepare our bodies for shredding the slopes this winter, so we turned to our friend Luis Bermudez of Reliquum Studio. Luis is a certified personal trainer with 23 years of experience in health and fitness, and had some great tips for skiers and snowboarders who want to prevent injury and develop the muscles that support good form on the mountain.
LifeBalance: Ski season is coming! If you’re someone who hasn’t been very active, what kind of workouts/activity should you focus on to prep for the season?
Luis: Well, I would do two things; first I would start with a very basic total body workout of half strength training and half cardio training. I do have clients that ski, and one of the misconceptions is that it’s all legs. A lot of it is legs, but a lot of it is also your core and being able to maintain proper body position and alignment to effectively turn and increase or decrease speed. So you need to make sure your body is in good condition to make turns and handle impact and have the stamina to do it many times over. Thus, a total body workout of half strength training and half cardiovascular training can provide the fitness base necessary for a fun and safe time on the slopes.
LifeBalance: What specific strength exercises do you think are most important for skiers/snowboarders?
Luis: Speaking in general terms, definitely the first thing to address is your legs. Skiing, it’s a constant flexion and extension of the hip, knee and ankle joints to maintain a position where you’re dynamic. Try exercises that require a bend (flexion & extension) at the hip, knee and ankle joints at the same time. This means squats, lunges, step ups, and side to side movements that imitate skiing are a great start.
Flexion and extension at the knee, hip, and ankle joints, helps the skier stay balanced, control speed, and react to bumps and changes in the terrain.
LifeBalance: What specific flexibility exercises are most important?
Luis: I’d say that it’s very important to make sure people stretch their lower back, which usually includes stretching your hamstrings. Most people think that the knee joint takes all the impact while downhill skiing. The lower back in fact is going to take part of the impact when downhill skiing. But, also, when on the slopes you need to get up the mountain, and you sometimes have to walk quite a bit, and that motion of walking while dragging your gear does incorporate your core a lot. Your erectors take impact on the way down, and are a key player in core rotation when you’re walking uphill.
LifeBalance: Are there any good stretches you can recommend for skiers and snowboarders right before they hit the slopes?
Luis: Yeah! There are quite a few. Again, we’re speaking in general terms, but the first one that I would do is a lunge with a rotation:
Lunge with Rotation
Do a lunge, and when you’re at the bottom of the lunge, with your left leg forward, you turn your torso, extending your right arm out, reaching forward with your right hand, and extending your left arm back, and the left going backwards, so you are twisting your torso once you’re dropped down into that lunge. It stretches many of the major muscles you’ll use during skiing or snowboarding. It actually feels good no matter what activity you’re going to do!
Side Lunge with Rotation
If you’re in a regular standing position, instead of doing lunges going forward, do a side lunge. So if you do a side lunge on your left side (bend left leg), and take your right hand and reach over and touch your left hip. This is very specific to skiing.
LifeBalance: After a day of skiing or snowboarding, what are the best stretches/cool down activities to do?
Luis: There are quite a few things that you can do. For me, the most basic is, again, stretching your back. And also stretching your quadriceps.
Standing Quad Stretch
For that, the quads are one of the easiest. You can find a wall, and use it for support. Face the wall, and place your left hand against it. With your right hand, you’ll grab ankle and pull your knee behind you.The key is to stand up perfectly straight here; if you lean forward, you won’t get the stretch.
Standing Hamstring Stretch
The other one I would do: Stand in front of a mirror with your feet slightly wider than shoulder width. Bend at the hips, and reach down, and try to touch your left foot with your right hand, keeping your legs fully straight. Then stand up again, and bend again and touch your right foot with your left hand. This is a great stretch for your hamstrings, glutes, and lower back.
LifeBalance: For more serious skiers and snowboarders, is there any specific kind of cross-training that you recommend?
Luis: Yes, for someone who is a little more serious, there is a lot more. These exercises tend to involve high impact, stamina, coordination, balance, power and speed. We do them for a high volume of reps, or under a specific time constraint aiming for a specific number of repetitions.
Side to Side Box Squats
For me, this is the best beginner exercise for more serious skiers or snowboarders. I would do this movement with boxes, no boxes, loaded or not loaded, it depends on how advanced the skier is. So get your step up box, and instead of just doing step-ups forward, you’ll do lateral squats. Stand next to the box, and place your right leg on top, leaving the left leg on the floor. Now squat down like you’re skiing or snowboarding. Now stand back up, step down with the right foot to the other side of the box, and place your left foot on the box, and drop into a squat again. You’ll do this move, shifting from side to side, always with one foot on the box and one on the floor.
That lateral motion is something that I recommend for everyone; because every time you land, you’re using the same muscles that you’ll use to turn and push off on your skis or snowboard.
Bodyweight Jump Squats with Band
The other move I would recommend for advanced skiers or snowboarding is using bands. I would use a band and put it around your thighs. With your knees slightly wider than shoulder width apart, you’ll jump, then drop into a squat with the band on. The idea is this: The band is pushing your knees in, but you can’t let it; you want to push out on the band with your legs. You’re fighting that force with the band. It’s a great way to prepare; it helps you get used to landing smoothly and holding your form.
And by the way, I gotta say: My oldest skier here is 57, and he does these two moves no problem! These moves only require body weight, so they are manageable for newer skiers and snowboarders, too.
LifeBalance: Lastly, we know you’re a great trainer from your work with our co-founder, Dave Miller! Can you tell us a little bit more about your experience, services, and how people can contact you?
Luis: Well, I have been personal training for 23 years now. At the beginning of my career, I worked mostly with athletes, but over the years I’ve been working more with professionals who were perhaps athletic in the past, or not at all, but that are nonetheless looking for an efficient way to incorporate health and fitness in their life. I also work a lot with people who have demanding situations like diabetes, heart conditions, etc., and nutrition and food related physical and emotional issues. We also work with a very diverse group of recreational and amateur athletes.
I have to say that, obviously, we focus on exercise and nutrition, but since we work mostly with busy professionals, we’ve shifted our focus from helping people achieve this very extreme fitness level, one that can be very burdensome to maintain, to focusing on helping our clients achieve a fitness and health level that is aesthetically and physically satisfactory, not only now, but with a focus on the long term. We aim to do this without disrupting their personal and professional lives, thus making a lifestyle change and not just a mere fix.
I am also supported by a great staff. Julie, Kaitlyn, Stefani and myself are well educated and experienced. We all have our specialties and areas of expertise, which adds to our collective knowledge. We don’t do the trendy stuff that you see on social media. We are familiar with the different modalities, but we don’t use one particular approach (like only recommending the Paleo diet, Powerlifting, etc.). Rather, we use our knowledge to assess the client and draw up a structured customized plan that will work for that individual client.
Everything we do is based on functional movement. I want everyone to be able to do a hip hinge, walk properly, have good posture, etc., regardless of their experience with exercise. In the end, what I really want is for the client to have a great experience so they don’t find it impossible to achieve optimal health and fitness, even when they have limited time, resources or even good health to begin with. I see a lot of people trying things that are way too hard or time-consuming at the beginning, and that leads people to quit. I want the person to be able to enjoy fitness and see how it will help them. If you’re starting out and the workout is so hard that you’re sore for 5 days and can hardly go to work, you can’t function. It has to be a process of slow inclusion, and not one where you have to put everything else aside to reach a fitness goal; there has to be a balance. For us here at Reliquum, the journey to achieving your best fitness and health is one of empowerment.
Disclaimer: This interview was designed to help our skiers and snowboarders get in shape for ski season! We encourage all readers to consult with a fitness or health professional to ensure they’re safely and effectively meeting their fitness and activity goals.