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End Of Season Strength Testing

Abe Maynard on April 1st, 2022

As the season comes to an end, it’s easy to lose sight of your training purpose. Gym membership utilization trends down and skiers begin to dust off their mountain bikes and hiking shoes in anticipation of spring. Why think about training? The season is over right? Wrong. 


The month of April presents skiers with perhaps the most crucial training window of the season.  It’s the only time of year that you’re coming fresh off your winter ski volume where you should technically be in the best “ski-shape” of the year.  Hopefully you’ve been skiing constantly and maintaining your training output to support the demands of the season.  This means that your strength training should be in a complementary groove that, by design, blends your individual needs on the hill with your individual strength and conditioning.  Because of this, it’s the perfect time of year to get some crucial numbers.  These numbers will can guide your summer training but more importantly they give you a reference point for the beginning of next season. 


Let’s say that currently you’re skiing five days a week, you can deadlift your bodyweight for ten reps and you can run a mile at a 9:30 pace.  That’s extremely useful information to consider when your’e preparing for the next season because you know that no matter what happens this summer, you can be at end-of-season shape next November so long as you maintain these numbers. 


Knowing where your strength, conditioning, and endurance stand today will be the most important piece of information when you’re deciding what to do next year.  Whenever you’re wondering if you should bike more, run more, lift more, all you have to do is re-test your numbers in July and September to see how close you are. 


Of course, this all begs the question: What should I test?


Outlined below are valuable strength and conditioning metrics that you should pursue in the next month.  Ultimately you should gather this information and save it in your gym, on your phone, or in a notebook for easy reference mid-summer.


The Numbers:


To test anything, you need to warm up properly for that specific test.  If you’re going to test your mile time, don’t warm up your deadlift and vice versa.  For any lift, I recommend planning enough time to run through your lift-specific warm up which includes foam rolling and muscle priming, then slowly build through the exercise until you’re confidently within striking distance of your maximal effort. 


I also don’t recommend testing a 1 rep max (1RM) unless you’re a seasoned lifter and have a precise estimate of where your lift might be.  For everyone else, use a 3 or 5 rep max and then find your estimated 1RM by using this calculator. It’s free and easy.



(1) 1 Mile Run:


A great assessment of baseline cardiovascular conditioning. No ski run will be longer than the time it takes you to run a mile so this will always function as an easily replicable and useful metric.



Using a watch, Strava, or another timer, find a track or flat trail that has minimal elevation, stops, or obstructions.  Choose something that’s easy to access which you can use again throughout the summer and fall.  On a single attempt, record your mile pace.

(2) 60 Second Lateral Box Jump:




This is an assessment of lateral explosive power, hip flexor reaction time, coordination, and quad endurance.  All of these elements are present and essential to skiing.  If you can increase the amount of lateral box jumps you can do in a minute, you will be a better skier.




Set a stopwatch or have a training partner record you. Start on the ground with both feet flat. When your partner says go, stay facing the same direction and jump up to land on top of the box, jump off to the other side and land with both feet flat. You will repeat this movement up and over the box, always touching the ground on both sides, and the top of the box.  Up, over, and back is “1” rep. Count how many you can complete in 60 seconds.

(3) Barbell Front Squat:


The Barbell Front Squat correlates well to skiing as it assesses lower body strength (dominated by the quads), promotes a good upper body/torso position similar to skiing, and can be overloaded beyond a goblet squat to test true strength. If you improve your front squat over the summer, you will feel more stable and capable on snow next year. Period!



After you build up accordingly based on your projected strength, perform 3 receptions of the Barbell Front Squat.  To be considered a clean rep, your hips must break parallel to the floor, and you must lock out at the top of each rep.

(4) Barbell Lateral Lunge:


This is one of the safer ways to assess lateral strength.  Additionally it creates a challenge in mobility and stability for your dominant leg.  If, for example, this movement is in itself too challenging, you can set a goal to be able to perform a rep by the next season.  Lateral strength is a non-negotiable element of skiing so its performance should be mandatory.




Using a front rack barbell position, Attempt 3 lateral lunges to each side without setting down the weight. Every rep must break parallel at the hip, relative to the floor, lock out at the top, and be performed without setting the weight down.


(5) Trap Bar Deadlift:




This movement assesses full body mechanics, hip strength, and posterior chain integrity. Three essential elements of safe skiing. If you increase your deadlift, you will improve your ability to ski more terrain. I’ve written entire blog posts bout this here.




Similar to the front squat, warm up accordingly and progress the weight slowly to arrive at your estimated maximal load.  Perform 3-5 reps depending on your training focus. Every rep must lock out at the top of the movement.  Aim to be capable of deadlifting your bodyweight for reps by the following season and you will experience a different level of capability on snow.


(6) Broad Jump *distance*




The broad jump tests full triple extension from the ankle, knee, and hip. It also tests your maximal effort plyometric capabilities, and is easily replicated. If you can add distance to your broad jump you are improving hip power, acceleration, and deceleration upon landing. All of these elements improve ski performance.




Draw a line on the ground or use an object. Load into your squat position and jump explosively in front of yourself in an attempt to cover as much distance as possible. When you land, stop and draw a mark where your heel is in contact with the ground. Record the distance from starting posting to your heel.



If you follow this Ski System Testing Protocol and improve any of these elements before next season, you will undoubtedly experience an improvement in your ski performance.


Have fun, be safe, and train intelligently this off-season to take your abilities to the next level in 2023.