Article by Joe Howdyshell from Summit Endurance Academy

“Skiers are made in the summer.” I don’t remember the first time I heard that, but its truth becomes more evident every year. Do you want to be better on skis this year than last? Do you want to be faster, ski more lines, or be more able to keep up with that fast friend? If so waiting until October to start preparing just won’t cut it. How often does the snow fall and it takes 6-8 weeks (at least) to feel GOOD out there? The difference between the skier you were last winter and the skier you could be this winter is a volume of hard and focused work. I won’t bullshit you, it’s going to take sacrifices. It’s going to take DIFFERENT actions this summer in order to get different results this winter. Ski mountaineering/backcountry skiing is HARD! The engine (cardiovascular fitness) required is HUGE, and the transmission (musculoskeletal system) required is STRONG. Here are my top three keys to preparation. 

  1. You need to work hard consistently. Obviously, this is in proportion to your goals. Want to make BIG changes? You need to train more and smarter than you ever have.
  2. need to do ski imitation work. Maybe you have roller-skis, maybe all you have is a  treadmill, but you need to spend time PRETENDING YOU’RE ON SKIS! You probably know what good skinning form feels and looks like. Again, spend proportionate time to your goals.
  3. You need to be strong! It doesn’t necessarily HAVE to be in the gym (although I strongly recommend it), but you need to spend time working on your skiing muscles so that they aren’t puny and weak when the snow starts. This is much less about the big muscles and more about the smaller muscles. 

I’m going to make up some super arbitrary numbers here, as a guideline. If you whine about these numbers being arbitrary, you’re missing the point.

If you want to get MUCH faster than last year, you probably need to do three ski imitation sessions and three strength sessions/week, and build as much general cardio training (biking, hiking, running, etc.) as you can handle. Don’t forget to rest.


If you want to get a little faster than last year, then do two ski imitation sessions/week starting no later than August 1st.  Include two strength sessions/week, and then pile as much playing outside as your body can handle.

What does this look like in practice? Go do a ski-imitation session. It could be long, it could be intervals, it could be tempo. Whatever, just be tired at the end. Then do a strength session later that day. Plan another ski imitation session in 2-4 days. Do as much mellow running/riding/hiking between as you can without feeling like shit in that second ski imitation session. Continue this cycle for 3-4 weeks, and then take 4-5 days super easy. Repeat until your death bed. 

Joe is the lead coach at Summit Endurance Academy. Check out his website for more great tips, training plans, or private coaching so you can elevate to the next level.

July 18, 2018 — Accumula Collaborator

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