Whether you’re an Aspen local looking to snag that coveted 100-day pin or an annual visitor wanting to be in mid-season form for your Aspen ski vacation, give thought to where you’ll be skiing, what type of terrain you’re attacking.
The “Hi2T The Slopes” class at The Aspen Club gets locals ready for an entire winter of riding. Amy Knight, the mastermind behind Aspen Club’s famous ski conditioning class, builds the entire Hi2T The Slopes regimen around 3 principles:
Here’s a brief how-to guide that focuses on each of Aspen’s mountains and how to train for the ski season in Aspen, Colorado. We’ll break this into a two-part series. This installment will focus on Aspen Mountain and Aspen Highlands.
Jumping straight out of downtown Aspen, Ajax—as Aspenites call it—is a favorite amongst longtime locals. Steep and challenging, Ajax is not the spot for beginners. Known mostly for unreal tree skiing and long, steep mogul runs, training for Aspen Mountain requires a unique strength and focus.
You’ll hear locals in the Ajax gondola say things like “Bell-to-Bell,” which means they skied from the very first chairlift until closing, and “T-to-B,” which means they rode from the top of the mountain to the bottom of the resort without stopping. Obviously, both local slang terms require a level of fitness.
Here are a few exercises to add to your routine if you’ll be skiing or riding Ajax:
- Balance exercises are key because of Ajax’s bumps and moguls. Progressive steps and asymmetrical load workouts on a Bosu Ball will get you ready for the rigors of Aspen Mountain.
- Try explosive movements like tuck, jump, and explode combinations or squat, hold, and jump combos.
Long groomers, breathtaking panoramic views of the Maroon Bells, and technical bump lines are to be found at Highlands. But, this mountain’s calling card is the fabled Highland Bowl. Ski magazines like Powder and Skiing call Highland Bowl “the best big-mountain, inbounds ski experience in the lower 48.” It’s no joke! To sample the goods in The Bowl, you have to earn your turns. What’s that mean? A snow-packed stairwell climb from the top of the Loge chairlift, which tops out at 11,675”, to the summit of Highland Bowl at 13,392”. That’s a 1,717” vertical climb that you need to be ready for if you want to be greasing turns in Highland Bowl.
Putting your skis or snowboard on your back and climbing one foot in front of the other is a challenge, regardless of how strong you feel. A small few uber-fit Aspen locals bag the Highland Bowl hike in around 15 minutes, but most mortals should plan on a 40-minute mark.
Combining cardio and strength in your pre-Highlands training regimen is important. If you add these exercises and movements to augment your workout, you’ll thank us after your first bowl lap of the season.
A few exercises that will get you ready for banging out bowl laps and arcing GS turns down the G Zones include:
- Interval and tabata routines. Short on time but high on intensity, these will get your heart rate up and build your lungs.
- Rock climbers, burpees, and tuck jumps will also get you ready for Highland Bowl’s bootpack.
- And, asymmetrical workouts should be a staple.
“People tend to do exercise with two legs or two arms together,” says The Aspen Club’s Amy Knight. “Asymmetrical positions are key! Try a one-leg squat or TRX pistol squats. Try one-arm overhead presses while standing on the opposite leg on a balance disc or Bosu Ball. Do a one-arm row in a stork position (stand on one leg, bend from the waist with your core engaged and the other leg straight behind you and do a one arm row with the opposing arm). All that stuff is important because if you stand on both legs and push the weights above your head, you have too much stability and too little challenge which lead to minimal effectiveness.”
And, is you’ve ever attended a Hi2T class at The Aspen Club, you’ll know the final and most important tip: SET, BRACE and ALIGN before everything, work your body as a unit.
Remember these suggestions are just a starting point. The Aspen Club hosts a ski conditioning class every autumn that has garnered devout fans. For more information about “Hi2T The Slopes”—our awesome ski fit class that runs from October 12 through November 25.
And, check back later for the Buttermilk and Snowmass training tips.