PREPARE FOR THE SEASON
We are pleased to present an article from Frédérik Lépine. Fred is a kinesiologist who has a holistic approach to adopting an active lifestyle. He has a keen interest in physical preparation and a passion to develop the sport of Alpine skiing.
From time to time, we meet people in the ski industry that make an impression. Someone with a true sense of passion and ability to teach others. The ski industry is a place where we have the privilege of skiing and sharing ideas and friendships.
Fred Lépine is a humble ambassador to our sport and we’re honoured at SkiChatter to have him contribute an article to our blog. If you ever have the chance to ski with Fred, you’ll understand what we mean.Andrew Elsdon
- 25 Years experience in physical training, sports preparation, promotion of physical activity and athletic development for skiers.
- Technical Director at Bromont Mountain, Quebec
- Active CSIA Level 4
- CSIA Regional Administrative Coordinator in Quebec
- Canadian Interski team member (Ushuaia, Argentina-2015 & Pomporovo, Bulgaria-2019)
- Frédérik Lépine @ FredTraining
To help individuals in their projects and support them in order to achieve their goals and above all, to allow them to become the best version of themselves.
Meet the needs of the client; Develop the skills and strengthen their autonomy; Remain connected to maintain the client’s motivation; Adopt good lifestyle habits; Continue a leadership and active role with partners to encourage the development of all levels within the sport.
Where To Start?
For 25 years, I have worked in the field of physical activity both in physical preparation and as a trainer of ski instructors. Over the past few years, I have observed that there has been a tremendous improvement in awareness of early physical preparation among the skiing community. Currently, people are training more and they are better supervised. Human resources such as kinesiologists, coaches or other physical trainers help individuals in their process because they organize, adapt and personalize their planning. However, through this article, in order to update the physically specific preparation for alpine skiing, I will elaborate on 4 aspects that few professionals in the ski area address.
1) Improve the profile of your body composition
It’s a delicate subject. First, the goals of having a balanced profile of your body composition are to stay healthy and also to feel good about yourself. According to Canada statistics, 63% of Canadian men and women combined are overweight or pre-obese. By this modern reality, I observe in my professional practice in the field that the representation of all skiers would possibly have the same percentage as the entire Canadian population. Why? Downhill skiing is a recreational sport that may not require a great deal of energy expenditure and thus be able to ski with minimal effort. Unfortunately, otherwise, when the demands are present in a situation like powder snow or bumps, it becomes difficult to achieve a zone of control and performance.
What are the consequences of being overweight?
From a technical standpoint, being overweight for both men and women alters the positioning of the center of mass and therefore changes the posture of individuals on skis in order to maintain balance. For example, since males have a majority of excess weight in their abdomen, they would tend to stand with their backs more upright and an upright posture.
For women, in addition to having a lower center of mass than men, they tend to accumulate fat in the hips as well as the lower body. They would adopt a more leaned trunk position forward and hips more back. Therefore, to achieve better balance, it is desirable that the center of mass is closest to the skeletal structures. This implies that a simple loss of fat of a few pounds representing a mass not advantageous for the skiers would encourage several mechanical advantages.
Great Mobility & Range of Motion
For example, having greater mobility and range of motion in the lower body as well as the spine. Consequently, a skier might be able to bend the knees to the thorax more easily in bumpy terrain.
How do you get there?
Try to improve your eating habits by planning your meals, choosing unprocessed foods, and taking the time to eat slowly in groups to enjoy your meals. In addition, to increase your energy expenditure, I recommend that you sleep well in order to have more energy to move and plan your daily physical activities in order to counter the sedentary lifestyle of our modern jobs.
2) Awaken your body awareness
Everyone agrees that we need to strengthen muscles in order to stabilize our joints. Now I invite you to be aware of your movements when doing classic exercises such as squats and lunges. One of the important things before you exercise intensely is to make sure that you are doing them accurately and precisely. Unfortunately, all too often I observe individuals having a higher intensity and not being fully in control of their movement. Take the time to learn how to exercise and the adaptations will pay off in the longer term. A proprioceptive look inward.
What To Do Now?
Over the past few years, I’ve been teaching more and more exercises that seem to be easy to perform but that if you add extra attention to doing them precisely, they will improve your body awareness.
The goal is to do exercises in which you intend to describe a movement and the execution will be exactly the same as you have programmed in advance. There is no room for improvisation. The goals are to develop good motor patterns in order to describe conscious movements in order to mobilize one joint and at the same time to stabilize another without having compensations. To achieve this, it is necessary to awaken the proprioceptive capacities, that is to say the kinesthetic sensations.
How Do We Get There?
The vast majority of the time consists of performing exercises with our body weight. Exercises that are done slowly, precisely, in a large, controlled amplitude without pain should allow you to feel the actions of your bones, muscles and body in space.
In my opinion, the priority areas to focus on are postural exercises including the deep muscles of the abs, hip rotators and shoulder girdle. You have to invest time in this aspect no matter what time of day. There are various mindfulness disciplines that can improve these aspects including pilates, yoga and martial arts. Normally I tend to supplement conventional workouts with this.
3) Develop Muscle Strength in Upper Limbs
As the basis of planning a strength training program, all skiers know they need to strengthen the lower extremities and core muscles. They are absolutely right. However, they all tend to overlook the importance of working the muscles of the upper extremities. Why? Possibly by a lack of interest mainly among female customers.
How to plan adequate training?
Good planning will have considered creating musculoskeletal balances. It is important to work the agonist and antagonist muscles proportionally, to develop unilateral balanced movements at the levels of the lower and upper limbs and above all, to maintain a harmony of strength between the lower and upper limbs for two main reasons. First of all, to avoid injury in the event of a fall. But above all, to remain attentive and offensive in situations which would require great strength from the upper limbs. For example, in short radius turns on a steep, icy slope, pole planting is crucial in order to stabilize the upper body. In short, a firm pole plant is necessary and following the pole plant, the arm must not disturb the positioning.
What are the best exercises?
So, I advise you to do good comprehensive multi-joint exercises that recruit a series of several muscles. For example, a classic exercise is to do a push up adapted to your condition. Make sure you have around 30-40% of your training plan with upper extremity exercises.
4-Stimulate Your Cognitive Skills During Training
Incorporating cognitive elements into your workouts adds a more complete nuance to your physical and cognitive preparation. The main reason I add these elements is to have more fun during the exercises. It makes the workouts more complete. The majority of adults perceive their exercises to be more challenging and offer a more playful perspective than simply making an effort.
What are the cognitive skills?
Some of the skills I try to highlight are concentration, visualization, attention, memorization and coordination. The goals of developing these skills are to tap the full multidimensional potential of the individual. There are a multitude of possibilities. Creativity is the tool that will combine a cognitive element with a physical element. For example, doing an exercise called the Bear Crawl is a relevant exercise that encourages coordination of the lower as well as the upper limbs while strengthening the abdominal muscles. Normally, people need to be totally focused in order to perform the movement properly. Another example, one person describes a set of feet on an agility ladder while another person observes this game and tries to reproduce it exactly what he saw.
What are the real benefits?
I am really convinced that adding cognitive elements will help develop individuals in a more holistic way. People who have made these additions will have more refined abilities to make quick decisions in complex ski situations. In addition, the anticipated results on snow will be to have a higher level of vigilance and a stronger feeling of confidence.
In conclusion, in this era of Covid-19, it becomes more precious to take care of ourselves. We have little time left before the actual start of the ski season, so let’s take this time to prioritize yourself and put your personal development into action in order to become the best version of yourself in skiing. Now is the time…
- Monsieur Frédérik Lépine
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