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Bike to Ski

The gym may be the best place for ski-specific training, but every second in a gym is a second less outside on the bike. Seeking an alternative, we consulted Ann Trombley—former Olympian, Nederland-based Level 1 cycling coach, physical therapist and trainer to multiple national cycling champions—who built this outdoor, bike-specific, ski-conditioning workout that targets the full body and cardiovascular system, and offers the best kick when started six to eight weeks before you hit the slopes.

Frequency: Each workout lasts approximately 60 to 90 minutes including a 20- to 30-minute warm-up. Do it twice a week for the first couple of weeks, and then up the frequency to three times a week by the third week.  

Exercise 1: Strength Endurance Drills

Targets: Quads, glutes, calves and hamstrings

Method: Starting in a moderately hard gear on a gradual climb, do three to four, five-minute slow (70RPM) intervals, focusing on smooth pedal strokes and on each muscle in your leg as it goes through the motion. “The goal is to work each muscle specifically, in a concentrated way,” says Trombley. “You’ll think it’s not that hard, but you’ll be sore the next day if you’re executing it correctly.”

Payoff: Lower extremity strength, which helps you ski longer and supports your joints.

Exercise 2: Bike Plyos

Targets: Quads, glutes, calves, hammies and core

Method: Start at the bottom of a moderate hill or multi-level staircase, and bound off each foot as you run as fast as you can to the top. Jump back on and coast to the bottom. Repeat three to four times to start, building up to six to eight times.

Payoff: “Plyos are key to short burst power activities, like bump skiing,” says Trombley.



Exercise 3: Core focus

Targets: Abdominals and back muscles, plus pectorals, biceps, triceps, lats and deltoids

Method: After each stair or hill run, before you jump back on your bike, and on rock or a table, do the following: 20 pushups, 30 seconds of plank, 30 seconds of side plank (each side) and 20 tricep dips.

Payoff: “Your core is your platform,” says Trombley. “Without a strong one, it’s like you’re trying to exercise on a wet noodle.”



Exercise 4: Micro Bursts

Targets: Anaerobic and aerobic system.

Method: In five-minute intervals, go hard (80-90 percent of your maximum) for 15 seconds, easy for 15 seconds, hard for 15 seconds, easy for 15. Keep it up for five minutes, then go easy for five minutes. Start with two-minute intervals, building by week five to five to six five-minute bursts.

Payoff: Improves cardiovascular fitness and decreases fatigue (which equals longer ski days).



Exercise 5: BIKE lunges

Targets: Quads, glutes, calves, hammies and core

Method: On a gradual and longish downhill, alternate forward-leg lunges for 10 seconds each during your descent. “Accentuate the lunge,” says Trombley, “‘and focus on weighting both legs equally, no matter which one is in front, to ensure you’re contracting the muscles in play equally.”

Payoff: Specific strengthening for each leg, and equalizing leg strength (for explosive power).

For more info or to schedule a session with Trombley, visit

Photography by Aaron H. Bible

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