- "What's new at CB ATHLETICS?"
- "CB ATHLETICS: Training & Conditioning for Alpine Skiing"
- "Alpine Skiing expert's Training & Conditioning tips"
- "Groin training for any sport - Including sex!"



Check out the "GET LEAN" and "MASSIVE ACTION" programs available at: Whats New Section. The guys at 365 Solutions are really doing a great job with the site. Also, here's another site providing information on muscles and muscle fibers and it is sure to benefit muscle physiologists and coaches: http://pylwww.unibe.ch/~clamann/muscdata.html



Alpine Skiing is an awe-inspiring sport, however it commonly accounts for many recreational winter injuries, especially if you are not physically prepared. So if you plan to hit the slopes this winter, you should consider some of the training tips found in this issue.

In addition to the use of physical training for injury prevention, more and more competitive skiers are investing their summer time (the off-season) in the weight room (and in other training areas) to improve their performance. Fortunately, there are many excellent strength and conditioning coaches such as Matt Jordan (Calgary) and Sarah Applegarth (Personal Best in Mississauga) to help you invest wisely in your summer training time for optimal winter performance. You will get to learn more from them later, but first the CB philosophy on Alpine Ski training will be explored.

When designing a program for any sport, you must ask yourself, "What type of strength do I need?" and "What specific mode of training will help me?" After this, you can plan the program. Remember that the emphasis of the program should be to train movements and physical abilities and not just individual muscles. One tip, if you decide to put biceps curls in your program, you are getting a little off track...

Alpine Skiing should benefit most from increases in lower body strength, power, balance, and agility, as well as core (abdominal and low-back) strength. Basic exercises like squats and some single-leg exercises are likely your best bets. In addition, core strength is really being pushed as an essential component of sport performance. These physical attributes appear very important in skiing because you must be able to maintain an upright trunk and hip position throughout the race and this would be difficult without core strength (check out ISSUE #56 for abdominal training tips.

You can see that there are a lot of performance aspects that an alpine skier should address. Below are the CB ATHLETIC CONSULTING tips for efficient sport-specific Alpine Ski training:

1) Incorporate "balance training" in your warm-up.

Instead of spending 5-10 minutes on a stationary bike performing a non-specific warm-up for resistance training, use those 5-10 minutes to perform several sets of bodyweight full squats, bodyweight step-ups, single-leg squats, and single-leg deadlifts. Take advantage of the ability to gradually increase the intensity (i.e. move from full squats to single-leg squats) to better spend your warm-up time rather than wasting it away on the bike.

2) Improve balance and explosiveness at the same time.

Plyometrics will strengthen your balance and help you become more explosive for competition. Below is a sample plyometric, balance and agility training program. All of these performance aspects have been integrated into one session. In theory, this should provide the optimal training stimulus to improve a skier's explosiveness and body control. In the "land and hold" drills below, the athlete should perform a maximal effort jump or hop and attempt to land and hold the position while maintaining total body stability.

In the "Skier's plyo", the athlete will perform a maximal lateral jump to one side, but upon landing will rapidly change direction without a pause. Repeat for the given number of repetitions with an emphasis on exploding off the ground with little pause (contact) time. Finally, in the balance drill, the athlete will attempt to stand on the ball of one foot for 30 seconds. Repeat for the opposite leg. To increase difficulty, the athlete can perform with eyes closed. This drill comes from the Ontario Junior Ski program.

Warm-up (see the warm-up in ISSUE #47 - http://www.cbathletics.com/issues/47.htm)

: Single-leg hop "land and hold" (3 x 5 each leg)

: Standing long jump "land and hold" (3 x 6)

: Lateral jump "land and hold" (3 x 6 each side)

: Skier's plyo (3 x 6 each side)

: Single-leg balance drill "with eyes closed" (3 x 30 s each leg)

3) Emphasize eccentric strength, relative strength, and stability strength.

For competitive skiers, you must train for the demands of your event, whether it is isometric strength (where your muscles contract but don't lengthen) for turns or rotational power for jumps. Regardless of your event, you will always need a great deal of eccentric strength to absorb force upon landing. Skiers should emphasize the lowering phase of the squat, lunge, and step-up exercises.

In addition, like all sports where success depends on relative strength (amount of strength per body weight), a skier should have a low body fat percentage. Your relative strength will be improved by adding muscle mass and decreasing body fat. Therefore, you will have more strength relative to your body mass. Less body fat will mean less mass you will be forced to control during a ski run.

For stability strength, check out ISSUE #29 (www.cbathletics.com/issues/29.htm) for a "Neuromuscular Leg Training for Athletes". This program is "dead on" for what skiers require because it addresses all the muscles and emphasizes single limb training. Even though you ski on both legs, there are few times if any that each leg is contributing equal force during a run.

4) Increase your work capacity/muscular endurance in the squat position by holding the parallel squat ("Ski crouch") for increased lengths of time.

Starting with bodyweight only, descend into a "Ski crouch" (parallel squat) and hold this position. Determine a specific length of time you want to hold the position for (i.e. 30 seconds) and perform several reps with short (10 seconds) rest intervals between each rep. Perform sets of 5-6 crouches. You may need to begin with a shorter work interval and progress. You can also increase the intensity of the exercise by performing the exercise with a loaded bar.

5) Perform limited aerobic conditioning.

This recommendation is based on data from fitness testing of the 1981 Canadian Olympic Ski team, performed by Dr. Duncan MacDougall and Dr. Digby Sale. The results of testing showed that there was little correlation between downhill times and aerobic fitness. However, the better skiers more often had greater leg power. Thus, the focus of your training should be leg power, not aerobic fitness!

Here are the 1981 Canadian National Alpine Ski Team Aerobic Fitness scores:

Women = 49 ml/kg/min

Men = 55 ml/kg/min

Dr. MacDougall recommended that scores of 50 and 55 ml/kg/min are sufficient for women and men, respectively.

6) An Alpine Ski race is fueled primarily by anaerobic energy production. Therefore, use sport-specific interval training to prepare for performance.

Here is a relevant, yet technical article from the June issue of the American Journal of Physiology (Bangsbo et al., 280: E956-E964, 2001). The title is "ATP production and efficiency of human skeletal muscle during intense exercise: effect of previous exercise".

The researchers examined the effect of repeated bouts of prolonged intense exercise on exercise efficiency and the contribution of different energy systems. Subjects performed 3 minutes of exercise, rested 6 minutes, and then performed a second 3-minute exercise bout.

In the first exercise bout, anaerobic energy pathways contributed 83% of energy production in the first 5 seconds while the contribution of aerobic energy production was 17%. Total energy production per unit time was increased due to exercise inefficiency at the end of the 3-minute interval. That is, subjects had to work harder to maintain the same force output at the end of the 3-minute bout. Also, the anaerobic energy production was only 23% at the end of the interval.

The researchers also found that anaerobic energy contribution was lower and aerobic energy production was higher during the second exercise bout. This means that exercise efficiency decreases with the duration and frequency of intense intervals.


Many people don't realize that the aerobic system contributes to the early part of anaerobic intervals. But it does! So when you perform repeated bouts of intense exercise, there is a shift toward greater aerobic energy contribution. This study shows that you should gain some aerobic fitness adaptations when you train with sport-specific intervals (Refer to ISSUE #31 for more information on interval training - http://www.cbathletics.com/issues/31.htm). In theory, this type of training should best prepare you for repeated bouts of intense exercise (such as repeated downhill ski runs).

As for exercise efficiency, you should train as specifically as possible to your event. Unfortunately, that can be very difficult for skiers, but that's why the "Ski crouch" is in your program. Conclusion: Hit your intervals hard, rest hard, and improve specifically to your sport!

7) Get all of these training stimuli in less than an hour, 4 days per week!

One of your biggest concerns may be how to incorporate all of this without spending 3 hours in the gym each day! So IN SUMMARY, here is a recommended program design:

A warm-up with a balance component

: Everyday

Explosive training with a balance component

: 2 times per week

Strength training addressing isometric, eccentric and sport-specific strength

: 1 heavy leg workout, 1 heavy upper body workout, and 1 "Neuromuscular

Leg Training for Athletes workout"

Ski Crouch muscular endurance training

: 2 times per week (After leg workouts)

Limited aerobic training and emphasized anaerobic interval training

: 2-3 times per week (After explosive training)

Like all good training programs, the Alpine Skiing program should be modeled on periodization to bring you to your peak conditioning as the season approaches. Because you will be required to balance while fatigued when on the slopes, you should incorporate some fatigue-state training into your program. Only after weeks or months (depending on your original fitness level) of general preparation should you advance to balance training in a fatigued state. It is imperative that you train with SAFETY first. It is your overriding priority! Be conservative and acknowledge when to stop an explosive drill or set so that you avoid any risk of injury.



It is time to move on to the opinions of the experts. Let's start with Matt Jordan, CSCS, who is a strength coach and master's student at the Olympic-training center in Calgary. Matt trains elite level alpine skiers and he believes that, "the skiers require a lot of balance training, core conditioning, and agility." Matt has spent a lot of time working on hip strength, torso control and scapular control because he found that these weaknesses predisposed skiers to injuries in training and also makes them less efficient on the ski hill. Coach Jordan refers to his instability methods as "imperfection training".

Coach Jordan also believes that explosiveness and speed in a lateral direction are very important. To train his athletes, he would set up hurdles and boxes in different patterns and have the skiers move through the course with maximum speed and he found this especially important for the technical skiers.

For basic strength training, Coach Jordan believes that skiers require high levels of eccentric muscular strength in order to compensate for the heavy landings off jumps and concentric strength to pull themselves out of heavy turns. Thus, he includes a lot of front squats, back squats, and variations of the single leg squat in their training programs.

When it comes to training energy systems, Coach Jordan believes that the "lactic power and capacity" (anaerobic) systems are of the most importance. "The skiers are often very fatigued at the bottom of a run that lasts 90-120 seconds. I have them do 60 second speed squats both double leg and single leg." Another one of his training methods is to have the skiers perform a lot of cycling intervals on the stationary cycle and on the velodrome."

Coach Jordan believes a basic level of aerobic fitness is important but also notes that it is not a quality that is addressed very often at the national team level. "I think the best VO2 max on the team is maybe 53-55 ml/kg/min. Leg power on the other hand and power on the bike is quite good for the better skiers on the team."

Coach Sarah Applegarth, CSCS, of Personal Best in Mississauga, works with many of Ontario's top junior-aged alpine skiers. She believes that skiers should perform most of their conditioning using weight-bearing activities (i.e. interval running). In addition, she too finds that balance is really crucial, and schedules a lot of Swiss ball recovery balance exercises (or "imperfection training") and has had some good results with this training technique.

Coach Applegarth quotes Istvan Balyi, a top-level conditioning coach as saying, "Energy system contribution changes with altitude. At higher altitudes, a greater demand on the aerobic system is made. At 1200 meters VO2max (aerobic fitness) drops 1% each 100 meters. Thus at 2200 meters 10% of the VO2max is lost!" Keep that in mind if you ever travel to high altitudes and wonder why your performance and recovery is suffering.

Best of luck in summer training and on the slopes in the winter!



Groin injuries are prevalent throughout soccer, hockey, skiing, basketball, baseball, and many other sports. Why is this injury so common? While it is impossible to say for sure, it may be that traditional strength training programs are inadequate for exerting preventative measures on groin injuries. Traditional strength training and bodybuilding programs simply fail to address the musculature of the groin area and therefore it may be necessary for some less common exercises to be incorporated into the athlete's resistance training program.

One concern many athletes have is that much of their valuable training time will be taken up by the incorporation of groin-specific exercises. After all, for many elite athletes, time is a valuable resource and must be allotted to improving a different aspect of performance. Fortunately, there are exercises that can train the groin at the same time as training another aspect of strength, power or agility and balance.

There are several exercises that can be incorporated or substituted directly into your training program. While this newsletter is "dedicated" to ski training, most of the exercises will serve to make anyone a better athlete and more successful in whatever their sport or "leisure activity" of choice.

The first exercise is the lateral step-up.

Stand beside a box (12 to 24 inches high) holding light dumbbells. Step up with the inside leg and place the foot in the middle of the box. Using that leg, push off inside leg and come to a standing position on top of the box. Perform a "pulling movement" with the elevated inner leg. However, keep the outside leg resting 1cm above the top of the box. Slowly lower yourself to the start position while keeping all the weight on the inside leg.

Another neat exercise that really stresses the groin is called "plate drags". Perhaps the greatest thing about this exercise is that it allows you to isolate the groin without making you look like a fool by using that silly leg adductor machine.

In this exercise, you will simply place a weight plate on the floor and drag it across the floor in front of your body from right to left using your right foot. Then, perform the same movement in the opposite direction with your left foot. Repeat for 6-10 repetitions for each leg. Begin with a weight that is light (10 pounds) and progress. Strong guys will easily be able to work up to 8 repetitions with 45 pounds in a workout or two.

A quick modification to your squat or deadlift stance can impart a great training stress on your groin. Therefore, simply substituting wide-stance squats and deadlifts into your program for your regular lifts is an efficient method of training more muscles with the same amount of lifts.

Wide-stance (Sumo) Squat

This exercise can be found in ISSUE #39

Wide-stance Deadlift

Stand with the feet a half step wider than shoulder width apart. Execute a stiff-leg deadlift, making sure to keep the back flat (neutral) at ALL times. The groin (adductors) will assist the movement by attempting to bring the legs in to the midline.

Even lunges can be modified to put additional stress on the groin muscles.

Lunge (diagonal)

Holding light dumbbells at sides, step out at a 45o angle (similar to a skating push-off). Slowly lower yourself till the thigh is parallel to the floor and then push yourself to the starting position using the thigh and groin muscles.

Lunge (side)

This is a combination of the squat & the lunge. Hold DB's and step laterally. Plant the lead foot with toes forward and squat. Keep the knee pointed in the direction of the toes. Push off the lead foot to the start position and pull with the groin muscles. Sideways stepping may place additional stress on the knee joint complex, so make sure that areas is injury free.

Finally, as your season approaches and you begin to include plyometrics and agility training, you will quickly see how important these basic strength exercises are in developing groin strength. Exercises such as side shuffling, cross-overs, and all agility drills that require sudden changes in direction will benefit from and develop strength in the groin area. If you want more information on how to train for groin strength in agility and plyometrics, drop an email to cb@cbathletics.com.



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