Women and ACL health: My ultimate pre-ski workout

It’s the most! Wonderful! Time! Of! The year!

Ski season is almost here!

Two weekends ago, we had our annual instructor refresher for OEC, or outdoor emergency care—ski-patrol medical. We practiced our skills on each other, on practice patients, and even on a manikin that had a pulse and respirations; reactive pupils; and lips and nails that turned blue when he got too cold.


All that means one thing: It’s time to start my pre-ski workouts. I lucked out last year, when a trainer at our gym in Virginia Beach devised a workout designed to get our legs ready to perform on the slopes.

Anyone who’s followed this blog for more than a minute knows injury prevention is near and dear to my heart. Studies have shown that female athletes may be more susceptible to ACL tears than their male counterparts.

According to Christy Barth, the organizer of the Boulder Center for Sports Medicine’s “Girls Can Jump” program, female athletes need to work on explosive movements, involving power, strength, and speed. “Plyometrics such as single-leg hops, and forward and backward legs hops over cones, completed with focus on the critical execution of landing correctly, can significantly increase the stabilization of the knee,” she told SKI magazine. Barth also told SKI that female posture and body alignment, flexibility, muscle firing patterns, speed of muscle contractions, knee and leg asymmetry, possible quadriceps dominance, and core strength could all be factors in ACL tears.

I’m determined to do everything I can to keep my legs healthy and strong to protect my healthy knees. My workouts are a weapon in this fight. Here’s one that incorporates most of my favorite exercises.


5-10 minutes of cardio: rowing or running

1 minute Side-skater jumps (jump from one foot to the other)

1 minute squats, without weight

Set No. 1:

10 Rotational jump squats (squat; jump in the air, twisting 180 degrees to land facing the opposite direction; repeat)

10 box jumps

10 squats, with bar

Set No. 2:

10 side skater jumps, with side squat after each landing

10 side lunges with dumbbell (the idea here is to put the dumbbell down each time you squat, then squat a little lower to pick it up again)

Split jumps (do a lunge; jump in the air to switch legs)

Set No. 3:

10 deadlifts

20 hamstring curls on TRX (you can use a stability ball if you don’t have access to TRX straps)

Back extension in Russian chair, with weight (I use a 50-pound kettlebell and do as many reps as I can with good form—sometimes 10, sometimes six)

Set No. 4:

10 BOSU squats with weight (with that same 50-pound kettlebell)

10 pistol squats on BOSU (I use TRX straps to help me balance)

Lateral box jumps – 10 on each side


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2 responses to “Women and ACL health: My ultimate pre-ski workout

  1. runninarounduptown

    Great workout!! I’m going to give it a try!
    I did my thesis on ACL injuries in pre and post-pubescent soccer players, testing their quad/hamstring/hip abductor strength and the actual tensile strength of their ACL. There’s an actual tool to measure it!

  2. Way to take the bull by the horns, Amy! Wishing you the BEST SKI SEASON EVER!

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