How to strengthen the legs for Skiing?


Ah, les alpes françaises! ……………………..parlez vous anglaise ?






Its a good job Physiotherapists are EXPERTS at pain relief and EXERCISE! If you are suffering from knee pain or worried about exercising the knees then get in touch.  We will assess you and take you through our comprehensive examination process to determine the best exercises for your problem or training need. At Core Body Clinic in Reading and Tilehurst we are committed to keeping you in tip top form.  Skiing is a great exercise and incidentally, providing you are skiing within your limits, has a low incidence of accidents.  Most of the time people ski too fast, crash or attempt something they are not comfortable with.  For technique be sure to get a lesson or have a good look on you tube - kidding!


1: What are the best exercises for skiing?

2: How do I get my knees strong for skiing?

3: My legs burn and I want to stop this when I am skiing. 

These are all common questions we get emailed so here is a blog about ski exercises where I cover the basic exercises that we should all do - but dont.


Try the single leg squat with a band - 4 x 20 reps!

With ski season now confidently underway in Europe I visited Decathlon in Reading over the weekend to buy more thermals for our ever growing children!

Skiing is my favourite holiday and I would happily work 364 days a year to do just a day of it.  I was chatting to a friend over the weekend who plans to joins us next year.  He was surprised to hear that it is not as expensive as folk think.  Driving to France we have found to be a pleasant experience and finding the smallest habitable apartment close to the slopes as possible is quite reasonably priced.  He asked me if there was a sauna in the apartment block.  You can experience a sauna in these studio flats by leaving the shower on and door open for a good 20 minutes while the room fills with steam!

As a physiotherapist I am as passionate about getting people pain free after their injury or operation as I am in preventing them from sustaining an injury.

As a physiotherapist I try to practice what I preach and exercise regularly so I tend not to worry about my legs through the year.  I cycle and run almost every day and I find this does enough so I don’t have to do too much in the way of leg press, squats and agility training.  My off road mountain biking keeps my balance in check, as does my no foot down policy commuting on my road bike through Reading during rush hour traffic.  But is this enough? Should we be doing more to prevent injury? Yes!

This blog is written so that I can share with you exactly what physiotherapy conditioning exercises I will do and recommend you do in the 6 to 8 weeks before you go skiing.  Previously I have always stuck to single leg dips; squats; lunges; and, box jumps.  This year I wanted to find some exercises that would mimic the exact thigh muscle activation that I would experience on the slopes.  More importantly, what could I share with our patients and readers that would not require any fancy equipment?


"I knew I should have got off the 1st lift!"








 The squat is a classic and simple exercise that exercises the core, butt (gluteal muscles); hamstring; quads; spinal and trunk muscles.  Here is a nice easy version.  Put your hands out, then pull your butt backwards away from the hands.  Tense the butt muscles and stick your butt out behind.  Keep the chest stuck out and chin up but be careful not to hyper extend the back.  If the back gets sore then you are arching too much.  Once down to around 70-90 degrees of hip and knee flexion (bend) raise back up into standing.  The knees should be at a constant distance throughout and should not draw in or out.  Keeping the gluts (butt) tight and tense throughout helps maintain alignment.

Aim to do 15 reps and 4 sets - take a 1 minute break between sets





Single Leg Squat

The single knee dip or single leg squat is like the squat only on one leg.  It is essential to keep the knee

forward facing on this exercises and do not let it cross medially or tilt inwards. 

Keep the gluteal muscles tight, chin up and chest out.  45-70 degrees of bend at the knee and hips is enough

before returning to an upright position.  Try to balance on one leg throughout, keeping the opposite leg off the floor.

Notice the hips are LEVEL and te knee is STRAIGHT.  This is key to PAIN FREE exercise.

Aim to do 15 reps and 4 sets.  Take a 1 minute break between and repeat on both sides!





The Tilt Dip

The next exercise is one I have improvised.  It requires an elastic band and preferably a tilt board.  If the elastic band and/or tilt board is not available then you could use the floor with grippy shoes and a pully in the gym with enough weight to stop you falling over.  The exercise involves weight baring fully on the upper most leg with some stabilising weight only through the lower placed foot.  This mimics the act of turning or carving in the snow.  You will be banking and the ski will be carving into the piste so that your weight is on the outer leg and the inner leg may or may not be stabilising but should have no weight passing through.  The exercises then involes a single leg dip with the weight pushing through the upper leg as shown in the picture.  It is quite physical but is a great exercise for replicating as close to actual activity as possible (I have found).  You can crouch and hold for 5-10 seconds or repeat the exercise as you would a normal squat.   

You can get the giant rubber band from Amazon - they are called Pro Tone.  You will need a stable non moveable object or person to hold the other end for you.

The Tilt board or rocker board is available from Amazon.

Aim to do 15 reps and 4 sets.  Have a minute between sets and repeat on both legs. 


All these exercies are brilliant for stability training and quads endurance.  Done a good 4-6 weeks before the ski date they will work to help prevent injuties to the cruciate and medial ligaments of the knee. 

If you feel confident in trying these exercises out then crack on.  If you are experiencing pain or discomfort then get in touch today! and either Call 01189310053 or

Last modified onMonday, 26 November 2018 14:55
Adrian Wagstaff

Adrian is the Lead clinican at Core Body Clinic.  He is a well known and experienced physiotherapist who qualified in 2001 from the University of Huddersfield with a BSc (Hons) in Physiotherapy.