Getting Really In Shape with the Pros

Fitness Exclusive: The real skier's training regimen incorporates P.A.I.N.


Editor’s Note: Forget Crossfit. Get off the bike. If you want to get in shape for ski season, take a cue from Scott Gaffney and the late Shane McConkey. This certified workout plan, one of the most popular POWDER stories of all time, was first published in the October 2007 issue. On second thought, don’t try this at home.

WORDS: Scott Gaffney PHOTOS: Court Leve

Ski-specific strength training regimens are good in theory: Get fit! Ski longer and harder! But no matter how many deadlifts, lunges, core exercises, and plyometric bouncy things you’ve executed throughout the offseason, their value in real-life skiing scenarios is equal to jack squat. Certified, highly accredited fitness gurus and their how-to guides are notorious for neglecting reality. Because no matter how buff you are, things can go awry on the mountain. If you ski hard enough and long enough, you’re going to take your hits.

But don’t despair. A revolutionary concept is sweeping through the fitness industry: The Principle of Active Injury Nullification. Groundbreaking research has revealed that repetitive, controlled musculoskeletal trauma stimulates the generation of resilient tissue less susceptible to injury.* We’ve incorporated this ideology into a skiing-specific training regimen guaranteed to minimize time on the disabled list this season.**

P.A.I.N. Demonstration: Shane McConkey. Trainers: Rob McCormick and Scott Gaffney***

*This statement has not been verified by any existing medical research.
**Injuries are no less likely while skiing and may actually be incurred during training. A guarantee is inappropriate. Offer void in Massachusetts and Tennessee.
***Neither the demonstrator nor the author has any medical or physiological training, accreditation, or knowledge.


Exercise 1: THE SLAM
TOOLS: Partner, exercise ball, benches/stool, hard stuff
WHY: You can’t expect to walk into a UFC ring and withstand a hit from Chuck Liddell. Your body needs to be conditioned to take a beating. Over a period of four to six weeks, The Slam will prepare all muscle groups and skeletal structure for flat landings, high-speed old-growth tree collisions, and rock strikes.
HOW: Stand on bench or stool (minimum one-foot higher than ball) above scattered hard items. Have partner roll ball across floor. Leap high and drop onto moving ball. Perform one set of eight repetitions.
ADVANCED: Raise height (max out at six feet to avoid popping ball), land on single foot, and perform in proximity of sharp objects (i.e.: weight stacks, exercise machines, drinking fountain).


Exercise 2: THE BRAINER
TOOLS: Partner, 25-pound weight bar, bench
WHY: Few things are more irritating than when a touron pulls the safety bar down the moment he/she loads the chairlift, tagging you on the back of the head as you’re reaching for your iPod or unbuckling your boots. The durability of helmets pales in comparison to the armor-like characteristics of calcium deposits spawned by repetitive cranial blows.
HOW: Sit on bench and tilt head forward. Partner drops bar onto back of head. Perform one set of as man repetitions as you might ride a chairlift on a big day.
ADVANCED: Increase weight, distract with conversation.

Workout Essentials: LIQUID MUSCLE
Wesson oil is our lube of choice. It glistens brilliantly, withstands intense exertion, and has zero grams of trans fat. Olive oil starts smoking at a lower temperature, triggering gym sprinkler systems when you’re most pumped and consequently rinsing the oil from your skin. Not good.


Exercise 3: THE SCORPION
TOOLS: Two partners, pulley machine with feet and neck straps
WHY: Scorpioning is when a powerful, forward impact drives a skier’s head into the snow while momentum slings his/her ski boots forward, causing the back to arch and heels to drive into the back of the head. To ski away after a violent Scorpion, one must have properly conditioned the body for frequently straining the abs and contorting the vertebral column.
HOW: Strap opposing pulley harnesses to feet and forehead. Select weight stack setting. Partners assist in getting into prone position on floor, one at head and one at feet. Partners release head and feet simultaneously. Perform three sets of repetitions necessary for exhaustion.
ADVANCED: Skip warm-up set and place weight stack pin at maximum setting.


Exercise 4: ACL FLEXION
TOOLS: Partner, blindfold, 20-pound medicine ball, two benches
WHY: The anterior cruciate ligament, the weakest link in a skier’s body, can rupture at any time and sideline a skiing career. Deliberate, excessive impact to the upper tibia stimulates the “Rebound Effect” in which the ACL produces increasingly durable elastic tissue which, in time, will make the ACL indestructible.****
HOW: Sit on bench with leg fully extended with heel on opposite bench. Begin with partner dropping medicine ball onto knee from height of 40 inches. Perform one set of a single repetition every six months.
ADVANCED: Unnecessary.
****Only when surgically replaced by cable (not yet practiced). “Rebound Effect” is a fabricated term.

1. Waxing or trimming chest/back hair not manadatory but strongly encouraged.
2. Perform 300 push-ups prior to entering gym to “pump” upper body.
3. Apply oil every fourth workout (photo days). Use Crisco only when necessary (avoid tanning bed or heat sources).
4. When referring to muscle groups, precede with “the” and abbreviate all musculature (i.e. the lats, the pecs, the quads, the glutes). Make them their own entity.
5. Interject “the core” and “plyos” into conversation whenever possible.
6. When speaking to a member of the opposite sex and the abs are exposed, drop shoulders back to put torso at an angle, causing flexion and accentuation of the abs (also works for the breasts in females). Maintain position through rest of workout when in view.
7. Make sure someone is looking before performing your heaviest, most impressive set.
8. Avoid water during workout, as it causes bloating and reduced definition.
9. Do not stretch prior to workout. Loose muscles will make you wobbly.
10. Grunt often and loudly.