Primary Muscles Used For Skiing

Skiing has numerous health benefits, and it is a good idea to practice some exercises before a ski trip to prepare yourself. Skiing is a fantastic sport, and it’s great for your physical health. After a fun-filled ski trip, you might be feeling a little bit sore. 

That’s because skiing activates lots of different muscles and works them hard. It’s a brilliant lower body workout with high-intensity full-body motion needed to overcome the challenges of hitting the slopes.

But what are the primary muscles used for skiing?

Primary Muscles Used For Skiing

Read on to find out. Today we have a complete guide that will cover the primary muscles used for skiing and everything else you need to know! 

Primary Muscles Used For Skiing

The major muscles used to ski are within your core. 

Your abdominal muscles act as stabilizers to keep you upright and stable while skiing. The gluteus maximus is an important muscle too, (the buttocks and thigh) because it supports the fundamental leg movements needed for skiing

The quadriceps come in handy too because they allow you to extend your knee and flex your hip when required. The hamstring is activated to flex your knee in up and down movements, and of course, the muscles in the feet and ankles are paramount for edging your skis throughout turns. 

How To Strengthen Your Core Muscles 

Here are some exercises you can do before your big ski trip to make sure that your core is in tip-top condition and ready for all that stabilizing on steep snow hills.

  • Plank
  • Side plank
  • Hip lifts
  • Kneeling extension
  • Raised knee-In

How To Strengthen Your Gluteus Maximus

The gluteus maximus is one of the strongest muscles we have, and it needs to be trained so it can properly hold your weight and balance your body when your legs and knees move off-centre. 

  • Squat jump
  • One-leg squat 
  • Forward lunges
  • Step-ups 
  • Kettlebell swings

How To Strengthen Your Quadriceps

How To Strengthen Your Quadriceps

Skiing takes a toll on your quadriceps when you extend your knee and flex your hips. Your thighs need to be sturdy to be great at skiing, as they have the difficult job of stabilizing your body as you turn with your skis.

  • Run uphill
  • Straight leg raises
  • Terminal knee extensions
  • Wall slides
  • Standing quadriceps stretch

How To Strengthen Your Hamstrings

Your hamstrings take a pounding during skiing, they are consistently activated to allow your knees to flex in up and down movements. Doing some of these exercises before you hit the slopes is a great way to get your hamstrings in shape.

  • Lunges
  • Inner thigh squeezes
  • Single-leg deadlift
  • Lying leg curl
  • Basic bridge

How To Strengthen Your Feet And Ankle Muscles

The feet and ankle muscles need to be strong and stable because they administer careful control in edging your skis during parallel turns. You should warm your feet up before you start skiing too, by rotating your foot gently around the ankle a few times.

  • Yoga
  • Hiking 
  • Hillwalking
  • Calf raises
  • Heel walking

How To Strengthen Your Biceps And Triceps

Your biceps and triceps might not have a direct role in the actual act of skiing, but you should maintain good arm strength so you can push off strongly with your poles on flat surfaces, and so you can carry your heavy ski equipment for lengthy distances!

  • Push-ups
  • Chin-ups
  • Bicep curls
  • Tricep dips
  • Bench dips

How Can You Prepare For A Ski Trip?

You should prepare for skiing by doing some cardio and strength training so you can better enjoy your trip and overcome the challenges of skiing more easily.

You can target certain lower body muscles with squats and lunges, use planks and sit-ups to strengthen your core, and increase your stamina by engaging in sports such as soccer or basketball, or other cardio exercises such as running and cycling. 

What Are Plyometrics?

High-intensity movements are great at building up those ski muscles, so having a go at some Plyometrics is a great idea before you hit the slopes. Plyometrics are exercises that cause muscles to exert maximum force in short bursts of time to increase their speed and power.

Plyometrics are an excellent way to train the muscles to extend and contract rapidly for explosive movements. It’s very useful for sports such as skiing, where rapid movements are required to advance in the sport, and it’s a very popular exercise among athletes who often use plyometrics to train themselves for events.

Training Your Legs For Skiing With Squat Pumps

Squat pumps are great exercises for the legs. They mimic the dynamic movements of skiing and snowboarding by driving up and down. Squats also work the muscles of the hips. Lunge squats are great for waking up the hip flexors and are a great exercise for building strength and balance.

How To Perform Squat Pumps

  • Start by standing on one leg then jump sideways onto the other.
  • Squat down to land on both feet.
  • Jump up and explode laterally, coming down into a full squat and repeating.

Make sure that when your legs land and squat, your ankles, knees, hips all line up one on top of another. This is an excellent exercise to strengthen the hip and thigh muscles. After doing these exercises, you should stretch your muscles properly. These exercises will help you to enjoy skiing holidays more.

If you put the time and effort into getting as fit as you can before ski season, you’ll be able to do a lot more! You can still ski if you are unfit, but you’ll have to be careful and take frequent breaks. Similarly, you’ll have to watch out for potential injuries if you are unfit. 

What Are The Benefits Of Increasing Your Fitness Levels Before Your Ski Trip?

Working out those key muscles before your ski trip can help you get more out of skiing. You’ll be able to ski for longer, ski better, and have more of an enjoyable time. You will also:

  • Be less tired after every day of skiing
  • Be less likely to hurt yourself
  • Quickly and easily learn and adopt new skills
  • Feel stronger and more confident when skiing

What Can You Do About Sore Ski Muscles?

What Can You Do About Sore Ski Muscles?

  • Use ice to relieve pain and swelling if your muscles are sore.
  • Do not carry on skiing if you are injured or in a lot of pain, you can ski with sore muscles (which have been caused by exercise) but not injured ones. Take some time off to rest, or see a doctor if you are in a lot of pain or think you have a more severe injury.
  • Using the sauna can help warm up your muscles and relieve pain.
  • Keep hydrated and keep your energy levels up with nutritious meals.
  • Make sure to stretch before and after every ski session!

What Are The Health Benefits Of Skiing?

Skiing is a fun way to burn calories and lose weight. Walking uphill instead of taking the ski lift will give you an even better workout! Steeper slopes also burn more calories, and cold weather makes your body work harder to stay warm. 

Skiing can be a difficult cardio workout, especially if you are on a long skiing holiday and you’re hitting the slopes every day. That’s why it’s a good idea to get as fit as you can before your skiing excursion, and to make sure you look after your health throughout the trip.

  • Great for improving general fitness, cardiovascular health, strength, stamina, and endurance.
  • The fresh air and natural surroundings are brilliant for both physical and mental health
  • Delivers a huge amount of endorphins and is a highly enjoyable experience
  • Lower body workouts target the quadriceps, hamstring, calf, and gluteus maximus. These exercises strengthen the legs and increase endurance. Skiing also improves your flexibility by strengthening muscles that help you stay upright. 
  • Stretching before going out on the slopes is a great idea and can improve the stability and strength of your ski muscles.
  • Skiing is a great way to strengthen your core by using your abdominal muscles. 
  • You need to be focused and aware of what you’re doing at all times, so it’s a good mental workout too.
  • Staying balanced helps improve your muscle tone in the abdomen. 
  • Sunlight is very important for our health as well as to help us feel happy. Vitamin D helps increase levels of serotonin and dopamine, which makes us feel better. 
  • Exercise is an effective therapy for depression and anxiety disorders.

How Many Calories Does Skiing Burn?

Skiing burns the same amount of calories as cycling or rowing. The calories burned during skiing also depend on your metabolic rate and the intensity of the skiing. On average, skiing downhill burns about 400 calories each hour, whereas uphill skiing burns a whopping 1000 calories per hour. 

Because skiing trips tend to encompass full days of skiing, it’s important to keep your energy levels up by eating enough nutritious food, and of course, remember to stay warm!


Skiing is an excellent sport for improving physical and mental health, strengthening muscles, and having a great time in beautiful snowy surroundings. The major muscles which are activated during skiing are the core (abdominal) muscles, the gluteus maximus, the quadriceps, the hamstrings, and the feet and ankle muscles. 

The arms might not be used directly for skiing, but they are used for pushing off from the flat ground with poles and for carrying heavy ski equipment around resorts.

It’s a good idea to train up before ski season so you can increase your physical fitness and muscle strength ready to deal with the challenges of skiing, and so that you can have a more enjoyable, confident, and injury-free ski trip.

About the author

Jesse Blaine

Jesse is the owner of, contributes to a lot of the material, and directs day-to-day operations. He lives in Colorado with his wife and kids and loves the outdoors. He’s an avid skier, hiker, kiteboarder, and adventure sports explorer. Jesse has also traveled the world and lived in five different countries. He speaks several languages and loves communicating with people

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