Pilates Exercises For a Ski Workout

Wouldn't it be nice if all you had to do be in shape for skiing was to ski? Sure. But the truth is, skiing makes demands on the body that are best met by doing ski exercises off the slope as well.


Pilates Exercises for a Ski Workout

ski exercise

Pilates, a method of exercise that specializes in core strength, flexibility, balance, and control, is especially well-suited for ski workouts.

The selected Pilates exercises in the workout that follows address such specifics for the skier as:

  • strengthening and opening the hip flexors while keeping a stable pelvis
  • building balance skills
  • toning the inner thighs to hold parallel
  • supporting the ability to turn the hips with a stable upper body
  • strengthening and stretching the back
  • overall core conditioning

You will find basic exercise instructions with links to more detailed instructions and notes on how each exercise helps a skier's form. The exercises can be done on their own, as a warm up or integrated into a larger ski workout program.


Standing Pilates Legwork

standing pilates
Standing Pilates Legwork. (c)2010, Marguerite Ogle

Ski Workout Benefits: Warms up your legs, trains the legs to hold a parallel alignment, tones legs, butt and core muscles, improves balance

Basic Legwork Exercise Instructions:

  1. Stand facing a wall far enough away to have your elbows bent but palms flat on the wall. As you improve your balance you can move away from the wall.
  2. Stand tall, with your shoulders relaxed. Your ankle, hip, shoulder and ears are in line. Your legs are parallel and your feet are facing forward.
  3. Bend your knees so your body goes straight down. Your knees should track over your feet and not past your toes. Heels stay on the floor.
  4. With your knees still bent, press up to half-toe.
  5. On half toe, press down through the floor to raise up to standing on the balls of your feet.
  6. Keeping your posture straight up and down, lower your heels to the floor, lengthening your spine and the back of your leg as you go.
  7. Repeat the pattern five times.

Spine Stretch Exercise

Pilates Spine Stretch Exercise
courtesy of Peak Pilates

Ski Workout Benefits: Increases flexibility, stretches the back and the hamstrings, tones the abdominal muscles.

Basic Spine Stretch Exercise Instructions:

  1. Sit tall on your sit bones, with your legs straight in front of you, hip distance apart, feet flexed. Tight hamstrings? Bend your knees slightly and/or sit on a folded towel or small pillow.
  2. Big inhale: Raise your arms in front of you to just below shoulder height; keep your shoulders stabilized on your back as you extend energy up through the top of your head. Lengthen your spine in both directions.
  3. Deep exhale: Curl forward as if over a ball. Reach toward your toes. Your back is curved and your belly is lifted. You will feel a stretch along your back and hamstrings.
  4. Inhale: Use your abdominal muscles to bring your pelvis upright, and roll your spine up until you are sitting tall again.
  5. Repeat three more times.

Ski Exercises: Pilates Pelvic Curl

pilates exercise
courtesy of Kolesar Studios

Ski Workout Benefits: Strengthens the back, the glutes, and the hamstrings. Tones the inner thigh, warms up the spine, opens the front of the hip.

Pelvic Curl Exercise Instructions:

  1. Lie on your back with a neutral spine, your knees bent, feet flat on the floor, legs and feet parallel. Shoulders are away from the ears, and arms are along the side, pressed lightly on the floor. Inhale.
  2. Exhale: Draw your abdominal muscles in and up to lengthen your spine along the floor, and tilt your pelvis so that your sacrum lies flat on the floor. Press into the floor through your feet and the backs of your arms as your pelvis continues to curl up so that your spine rolls up off the mat. Keep your legs parallel. This is important for your ski exercise training.
  3. Stop when your knees, hips, and ears are in one line. Weight is on the low part of your shoulder girdle and the backs of your arms, not your neck. Inhale.
  4. Exhale: Slowly roll your spine back down to the floor, vertebra by vertebra. Soften through the chest, upper belly then low belly. Release to neutral spine.
  5. Repeat three more times.

Ski Exercises: Pilates Criss Cross

abdominal exercise
(c)2007, Marguerite Ogle

Ski Workout Benefits: Strengthens abdominal muscles, focuses on the obliques, strengthens hip flexors, improves pelvic stability

Exercise Instructions for Criss Cross:

  1. Lie on your back with your legs in tabletop position. Put your hands behind your head with elbows wide.
  2. Exhale: Pull your abs in and curl the upper torso off the mat. Inhale.
  3. Exhale: Keep your elbows open, chest wide as you rotate your upper torso so that your left shoulder goes toward your right knee. As you twist, extend your left leg bent, extend one leg at a 45-degree angle (higher is easier, lower harder).
  4. Inhale to come to come to center -- upper body curled, legs in tabletop.
  5. Exhale: Extend your right leg as you turn your upper torso, taking the right shoulder toward the left knee.
  6. Inhale to come to center -- upper body curled, legs in tabletop.
  7. Repeat for six sets.

Pilates Dart

pilates exercise
(c)2009, Marguerite Ogle

Ski Workout Benefits: Strengthens the upper back, stretches and opens the front torso

Basic Exercise Instructions for Dart:

  1. Lie on your stomach, with legs together and straight behind you, and arms along your sides with palms up.
  2. Engage your abdominal muscles, lifting your belly up toward your spine. Glutes (butt muscles) and legs must support the move as well. Inhale.
  3. Exhale: Your neck lengthens, your spine lengthens and you send so much energy out the top of your head that your upper body lifts slightly off the mat. Your neck is an extension of your spine, so don't crease it to look up. Reach your arms behind you in a superman pose.
  4. Inhale: Hold the lift a few moments. Belly lifted.
  5. Exhale: Lengthen down to the mat
  6. Repeat three times.

Ski Exercise: Beginner Pilates Corkscrew

pilates corkscrew exercise
(c)2010, Marguerite Ogle

Ski Workout Benefits: Strengthens the core, focuses on obliques, improves upper body stability

Basic Exercise Instructions for Beginner Corkscrew:

  1. Lie on your back and extend your legs up toward the ceiling. Your knees can be slightly bent.
  2. Stabilize your upper body by engaging your abdominal muscles and pressing the backs of the arms to the mat.
  3. Keep your legs together and begin to circle them to the right, allowing the left hip to lift but keeping the upper body settled.
  4. Bring the legs down (only as far as you can control them and not let the back arc up) and around to the left, allowing the right hip to lift.
  5. Return to center.
  6. Repeat the pattern three times to each side.

Ski Exercises: Standing Lunge Hip Flexor Stretch

hip stretching exercise
(c)2009, Marguerite Ogle

Ski Workout Benefits: Stretches the hip flexors, improves balance, tones core muscles, tones inner thighs

Basic Exercise Instructions for Standing Lunge:

  1. Stand in good, lined-up posture, with your legs in parallel position.
  2. Bending your right knee, lean slightly forward and step your left leg back, resting on the ball of the foot. Be sure your hips are even. Put your hands on your right thigh for stability.
  3. Increase the stretch by opening at the hips. Take the whole torso up and back. Keep your hips stable and legs parallel.
  4. Hold the stretch for 15 to 30 seconds. Breathe deeply.
  5. If you feel stable, let your shoulder blades slide down your back as your arms go up over your head to increase the stretch and balance challenge.
  6. Repeat on the other side.

Happy Skiing! Learn more Pilates Workouts
Learn more Skiing Fitness Exercises

Was this page helpful?