Backpacking Fitness

This Is the Only Ski Touring Workout You Need

All you need is a pair of dumbbells to prepare your quads, glutes, hamstrings, back, shoulders, and core for ski touring this winter.

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Ski touring’s greatest rewards—solitude and untracked powder—don’t come for free. To access them, you must combine endurance, balance, and strength. This workout hits the quads, glutes, hamstrings, back, shoulders, and core to prep you for endless laps. Incorporate it into your current strength-training plan once a week, alongside regular cardio and interval workouts.

Warmup (3 sets)

1) 5 Multidirectional Lunges (per leg)

Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Keeping your chest up and core engaged, take a step forward 2 to 3 feet and lower your back knee until your front leg is bent 90 degrees. Step back to the starting position and then, with your right foot, take a large step to the right. Bend your right knee and sink your hips back into a side lunge. Again, step back to the starting position. With your right foot, take a large step back and lower your knee until your front leg is bent 90 degrees. This is one rep. Repeat the entire sequence on the left leg.

2) 3 Plank Walk-Out to Shoulder Taps

Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Squat down, place your palms shoulder-width apart on the ground in front of you, and walk your hands forward until you’re in a plank position. Without shifting your hips or shoulders, lift your right hand, tap your left shoulder, and place your hand back on the ground. Repeat with your left hand; tap your right shoulder, and place your hand back on the ground. Walk your hands back toward your feet and return to standing.

Workout (3 sets)

1) 10 Single-Leg Dumbbell Deadlifts (per leg)

Holding a medium-weight dumbbell (start with 10 to 15 pounds and increase if that’s too easy) in your right hand, stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Shift your weight to your left foot and lift your right foot off the ground. (You can also rest your toes on the ground in a “kickstand” position.) Keeping your back flat and left leg straight (a slight knee bend is fine), hinge at the hips and lower the dumbbell toward the ground until you feel tension in your left hamstring. Contract your glutes as you return to a standing position. Complete all reps on one leg before switching sides.

dumbbell row
(Photo: Peter Sucheski)

2) 12 Bent-Over Dumbbell Rows

With a medium-weight dumbbell in each hand, stand with your feet about hip-distance apart. Bend your knees slightly, hinge at the hips, and bring your torso forward until it’s almost parallel to the ground. Roll your shoulders back and, maintaining a flat back, allow your arms to hang straight. Squeeze your shoulder blades together and pull both dumbbells up toward your ribcage in a rowing motion. Lower the dumbbells until your arms are completely straight.

3) 10 Banded Side Steps (per leg)

Loop a small, heavy-weight resistance band around both legs just above your ankles and stand with your feet hip-width apart. Bend your knees slightly and step your right foot as far as you can to the right, then follow it with the left, keeping tension on the band at all times. Take 10 steps to the right before reversing the movement and returning to the starting position.

arnold presses
(Photo: Peter Sucheski)

4) 12 Arnold Presses

Holding a medium-weight dumbbell in each hand, stand with your feet hip-width apart. Curl the dumbbells up to your shoulders so that your palms are facing you and tuck your elbows close to your ribs. This is the starting position. Brace your core and press the dumbbells overhead, rotating the weights so that your palms are facing outward once your elbows are fully extended. Pause briefly, and then lower the weights to the starting position, rotating the dumbbells so that your palms face you.

5) 12 Dumbbell Hip Thrusts

Sitting on the floor, lean back and rest your shoulder blades against a bench. Bend your knees, plant your feet, and position a medium-weight dumbbell over the crease of your hips, using your hands to keep it in place. Drive through your heels and lift your hips into a full extension, squeezing your glutes at the top of the lift. Hold for one second before lowering to the starting position.

6) 12 Banded Lat Pulldowns

Sit on the ground with your legs extended in front of you facing a large resistance band that you’ve anchored overhead. (Make sure the band is high enough so that there’s already tension when you reach up and grab it.) With your hands about shoulder-width apart and slightly in front of you, grip the ends of the band. Squeeze your shoulder blades together and pull your hands down toward your chest, keeping your elbows tucked in toward your body. Extend your arms to return to the starting position.


6-Minute Mountain Climber/Forearm Side Plank EMOM

Set the clock for six minutes. At the start of each minute, complete 30 mountain climbers as fast as you can. Keep your core engaged and your back flat; your body should form a straight line from your head to your heels. Spend the remainder of the minute in a forearm side plank. Make sure your shoulder is stacked over your elbow and your hips are lifted, not sagging. Alternate between right- and left-side planks every minute.