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Article GX8      Circuit training can help your ski & board conditioning


Article GX9      Hip posture a key to better skiing and snowboarding


Article GX10    Hip Exercises

Article GX11    Pole Walking to Prepare for Skiing & Snowboarding


Article GX8

Circuit training can help your ski & board conditioning

By Sam Morishima


Circuit weight training is a useful conditioning program for preparing for winter sports. It is both a weight lifting and cardio workout that can build strength and improve stamina in your ski and snowboard riding.   Skiing and snowboarding by themselves are great exercises demanding physical effort and requiring an oxygen demand for riding, sliding, carving, flying and absorbing impact.


If we could approach our season by going out into the crisp winter morning and ski or board for a few hours each day building up our muscles and stamina on snow we would be in terrific condition physically and mentally by the end of the season.


However, that luxury is seldom afforded to most of us who only frequent the snow a few days in a season.   So as winter approaches we begin to worry about that dreadful first day and the consequences of the following days.   To maximize our day of skiing and snowboarding and to minimize those aching days after requires us to be in good physical condition as a key prerequisite.


Circuit weight training can be a great aid for preparing us for the slopes by focusing on heart-lung fitness, muscle development and fat loss.  Circuit weight training is a combination of weight lifting and aerobic exercise done in mixed intervals or circuits.


An important aspect of the program is moving quickly from one exercise to the next maintaining a good cardio-respiratory circulation throughout the circuit of exercises with brief but appropriate rest or down times between the sets.


The circuit is typically performed two to four times a week. Each circuit weight training session can be performed within a 45 minute span.


The circuit weight training program consists of 5 parts:

1.   Warmup – Done in 5 minutes. Like any exercise program it is important to begin with a warm-up by stretching to minimize the chance of muscle injury.  Here you stretch, jog or fast walk or treadmill or ride a stationary bike to loosen up and prepare the body and mind for the exercise to come.   A nice gradual warm-up minimizes strain on the heart reducing the chance for irregular heart beats and injuries.


2.   Abdominal – Done in 5 minutes. Do crunches for 45 seconds and rest for 15 seconds, follow by 45 seconds of crunches and then 15 seconds of rest. This is done until the 5 minutes are up.  As your ability progresses vary the type of abdominal exercises: bicycling kick your legs while on your back, leg lifts, leg scissors, feet flutter, on the back with leg straight up and toes pointed to the ceiling and raise the lower back off the ground up and down, etc.   This is to help develop a strong core stability of the trunk’s front, sides and back.  It will enhance breathing, and provide better flexibility of bending and twisting.


3.   Getting the heart rate up exercises:  Done in 5 minutes.   The key to circuit weight training is to get the heart rate up to where you are breathing a little harder but not breathless and unable to speak. To increase the heart rate we move and use our large muscle groups such as the leg muscles. Increasing the heart rate in a constant manner strengthens the heart and the vascular system, improving blood flow to organs and enhancing metabolism.


Here are three exercises that can be used for increasing the heart rate:

a. Step ups: Step up onto the step bench starting with the right foot, follow with the left, then reverse it down again, alternating the starting foot at half way if you wish. This exercise should be performed as fast as possible with balance and safety. Ensure the step is anchored solidly before starting.

b. Stationary bicycle: Pedal at a speed at least a little faster than you can do at a leisurely comfortable speed to bring up the heart rate.

c. Walk or jog or treadmill:  Walk at a brisk pace to raise the heart rate.


4.   Strength building: This is done with weights. If you are in a gym you can use weight equipment otherwise dumbbells work great.

The weight should be such that you can do a maximum number of 10 to 12 repetitions in a set. Each weight exercise set is done 50 seconds period with a 10 seconds transition to the next exercise or back to getting your heart rate up exercise. The object here is to do five weight strength exercise sets as a group and then move back to increasing heart rate exercise (step 3) and then back to a group of five more weight strengthening exercises (step 4).  This cycle is then repeated until you finish 40 minutes of circuit weight training.


I suggest you group 5 weight strength exercises with a 50 second set each followed by a 10 second rest. After the 5 weight strength exercises are completed, quickly move to heart increase exercise for 5 minutes. Then repeat this cycle 3 times. Here are some examples of weight strength building exercises:


Bench press

Triceps extensions


Overhead press squats

Chin ups

Calf raises

Shoulder fly



It is important that you perform these exercises properly to prevent injuries and maximize developing the appropriate muscles.


For brevity of this article I leave the detail of how to perform each exercise to the reader.


5.   Cool Down: Consists of gentle stretching for a total of five minutes. This minimizes straining and tightening of muscles as well as strain on the heart by preventing large drop in blood pressure and light-headedness.

            As a time summary:

            These are recommend at least three times a week.

            Minute 0:00 – Begin stretch exercises.

            Minute 5:00 – Begin Abdominal exercises.

            Minute 10:00 – Set up for Increase heart rate exercises.

            Minute 15:00 – Begin 1st weight strength exercise.

            Minute 15:50 – Transition to next weight strength exercise.

            Minute 16:00 – Begin 2nd weight strength exercise.

            Minute 16:50 – Transition to next weight strength exercise.

            Minute 17:00 – Begin 3rd weight strength exercise.

            Minute 17:50 – Transition to next weight strength exercise.

            Minute 18:00 – Begin 4th weight strength exercise.

            Minute 18:50 – Transition to next weight strength exercise.

            Minute 19:00 – Begin 5th weight strength exercise.

            Minute 19:50 – Transition to increase heart rate exercise.

            Minute 20:00 – Begin increase heart rate exercise.

            Minute 25:00 – Repeat the cycle for weight strength exercises.

            Minute 30:00 – Begin increase heart rate exercise.

            Minute 35:00 – Repeat cycle to weight strength exercise.

            Minute 40:00 – Begin Cool Down Stretching exercises.

            Minute 45:00 – Finish.


Before beginning any sport it is a fine idea to check first with your physician.

In addition, ski and snowboard lessons are a must for both beginners as well as for those who already ski and snowboard. Lessons are a great way to further you’re conditioning by working specifically the appropriate muscles and developing receptors for reflexes. Lessons create good habits and help eliminate bad ones.


Check out Sam Morishima’s SnoZone Ski & Board School at




Article GX9

Hip posture a key to better skiing and snowboarding

By Sam Morishima



Skiing and snowboarding demands dynamic balancing that require the body to constantly change and re-align its position.  The ease and timeliness of transition from one balance position to another is the key to smooth riding creating a continuum that allows the rider to re-direct direction and control speed.  Not being in balance makes steering and sped control difficult to impossible to do. 

Being in balance first starts with proper body posture.  One area of posture problem that many weekend skiers and snowboarders have are tight hip flexors which tilts or rotates the crest (top) of the hips back.  This results in the infamous back seat skiing or the poor rear-end out snowboarding that makes going from heel edge to toe edge a battle of extra-ordinary proportions.   The reason this is such a prevalent problem is because most people are basically “desk jockeys” during the work week or for much of today's young “couch potatoes.'  Sitting tends to relax the hip flexor muscles (especially if you sit in poor posture) in particular the iliopsoas  group (ilicus, psoas major and minor) which in turn begins to shorten and become less elastic.  This eventually in time causes tighten hip flexors pulling the hip back and moving the center of hip mass back and bending the torso forward to counter balance this new position.  This puts your body into a difficult balancing act that is not neutral for effective dynamic balance opposing the demanding changes required to correctly balance the ride. 

The first step to take is to get back into hip balance by making the hip flexor group of muscle more pliable by stretching them.

Here is a simple but highly recommended stretch

Hip Flexor stretch (mostly iliopsoas: iliacus and psoas major & minor muscles)

A. Kneel down with back straight up

B. Step right foot forward keeping left knee down on the floor, place hands on top of right thigh and maintain straight back and right thigh parallel to floor.

C. Slide the left leg back so that the left foot is on ball of foot. Feel the front of hip and thigh stretch on the extended leg.  Your stretching the Hip Flexor muscles.  Make sure your back and hips are straight up and Hold for 10 to 20 seconds. 

D. Do the same with the other side having your right foot back and stepping left foot forward.

E. To develop a further stretch, slow push hips (pelvis) forward while contracting the abs and glutes, keeping back straight up and slide hands onto knee.

F. For more intense stretch extend the back foot so resting on top of foot, dip body so  that thigh of the step forward leg falls below the parallel to floor position.  Then raise the opposite side arm to the forward leg straight up above your head, palm facing inward. Keep back straight up.  Hold for 10 to 20 seconds. 

G. For people with improved balance lift both hands above head and clasp palms together and reach the hands straight above your head as high as possible and hold for 10 to 20 seconds.


Having flexible can benefit the rider by reducing the tendency to ski on their heels or back-seat skiing and for boarders it allows for optimal body position for transitioning from edge to edge as well as for balance board squatting or pulling up the knees to your chest creating stronger push offs and jumps. 

In our next issue we will explore exercises that will strengthen not only hip pivoting but the lumbo-pelvic-hip complex or commonly known as your core for improving riding balance, so stay tune to this season's following Sierra Ski News.

So get Hip and ride!






Article GX10

Hip Exercises

Strengthening the hip area muscles for more relaxed Skiing and Boarding

By Sam Morishima

Last issue we discussed how important reducing tight hip flexor through stretching exercises can help improve riding posture in skiing and snowboarding.  Continued good riding balance is created by a neutral pelvic and spine position that allows muscles working together to maintain your core stability in the ride.  Acting on the pelvic and spine area are the hip flexors, the abdominal muscles, hamstrings, quadriceps, adductor muscles and gluteus maximus.  Exercising these muscle groups in a balanced manner will allow optimal proprioception sensitivity to engage correct muscle usage and deliver appropriate muscle strength for improved posture balance and quick counter-reactions to forces that destabilize riding. Here are some exercises that will help develop a stable riding posture. 


Abdominal Crunches are a great way to start this series of exercise.  Lying flat on your back place your hands crossed on your chest.  With knees bent and feet flat on the floor slowly raise your upper body up crunching your abdominal muscles and pressing your lower back to the floor.  Exhale slowly as you raise your upper body.  Then slowly lower your back down to the floor as you inhale.  Repeat.  At a slow pace I recommend do as many as you can within 20 seconds. When you feel safe to do so do as many as you can with in 30 secs and then 45 secs


V-Ups are great exercise for strengthening the core working on your lower abdominal, hip flexors and upper body muscles. Lying flat on your back raise both your legs and arms together while keeping them as straight as possible. Folding yourself to form a V with your body.  Inhale before starting and exhale as you form the V. Take another breath and exhale as you slowly lower your arms and legs keeping them straight.  Repeat.  I recommend do as many as you can in 20 seconds but keep a slow pace. As you feel you can safely do more than increase the time to 30 secs and then to 45 secs.



Crunch Bicycling is one of the best exercise to build the rectus abdominis, the external, internal obliques as well as engage the quadriceps, hip flexors and hamstrings.  Lying on your back and hands by the side of the head cupping the ears.  The legs are extended straight with the heels 6 inches off the floor.  Lie flat on the floor with your lower back pressed to the ground. Bring one knee up toward your chest and slowly go through a bicycle pedal motion alternating the legs.

Curl up your shoulders lifting your chest and touch your left elbow to your right knee, then your right elbow to your left knee. Keep the heels off the floor when the leg is extended and make sure you extend the leg out straight. Breath evenly throughout the exercise. I recommend at first to pedal at a slow pace as many as you can do in 20 seconds. As you feel you can safely do more than increase the time to 30 secs and then to 45 secs.



Lying Leg Raises targets the lower abs and involves the hip flexors.

Lie flat on your back.  Place your hands palms-down underneath your glutes. 

With the legs straight out raise them up so that they are now vertical with the bottom of the feet facing up toward the ceiling. Thrust your legs upward so that the lower back goes off the floor. Your upper back, arms, and hands will remain on the floor.

Lower your legs until your lower back is back on the floor then lower your feet down keeping your legs stiff and straight until the heels hovers over the floor about 6 inches.

Repeat.  . I recommend at first to leg raise at a slow pace as many as you can do in 20 seconds. As you feel you can safely do more than increase the time to 30 secs and then to 45 secs.



As you work to strengthen the muscles that work the hip area you will find that your riding posture becomes more solid with improved balance and relaxation.


Have a great season and prepare as much as you can before your first ride so that there will be plenty to follow.


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