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Please give me a simple leg gym routine

 Poster: A snowHead
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Looks like I might finally be able to get to a local community gym (no on-site trainer) for a few weeks/month - probably one session a week (plus whatever I can do free at home or out walking or playing badminton). They'll have leg press, hamstring curl machine, maybe ab & adductor machines, some kind of Smith/press set up (+ static rowing/cycle - I've got them, as basics, at home tho').
After warm up, what would you good peeps suggest as a basic, easy to remember, routine (say for an hour) for ski/board general leg strengthening and continued knee rehab? Also high or low reps, fast or slow, high or low weight (or vary visit on visit?)?
Cheers.
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For skiing, I think exercises that use eccentric contractions ie. lowering of the weight are best.

So, using body weight:
- Front lunges
- Side lunges
- Jumping lunges
- Squats
- Jumping squats

Personally I don't like leg machines, which either put too much pressure on your knees, or your lower back.

For abductor/adductor, I use Warren Smith's exercises:


http://youtube.com/v/3gUAq3k3wvE

and see from 2:51, where he uses towels.


http://youtube.com/v/72Fjt6ms5Ak?t=172
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@Old Fartbag, thanks, and useful vids - but I can do those at home (sans serious weights).
I specifically want to know what I can do in a gym, assuming that it is actually worth it - and there's a question, perhaps: when only doing home stuff, everyone's telling me that I need to get "into the gym", and get using leg presses and generally serious weight (which I'm not going to lift totally free, I can tell you that now; wrists wouldn't take it! Neither would the floor at home.)
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I do two kettlebell classes a week at my gym and that has helped my leg and core strength enormously. Otherwise backwards on the elliptical machine helps.
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Leb busters for the burn....
Just need a clear space and a few minutes
https://www.backcountry.com/explore/train-eccentric-leg-strength-for-alpine-skiing
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@Grizzler, for me Leg press is the only weights machine I use. I do each leg individually to ensure I don’t favour one leg (easily done when you have injured one). I also use it alternating with my toes point straight and toes pointed outwards by 45degrees.

The other stuff I use in the gym is the bike, cross trainer- alternating forwards and backwards and the treadmill doing intervals
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Grizzler wrote:
@Old Fartbag, thanks, and useful vids - but I can do those at home (sans serious weights).
I specifically want to know what I can do in a gym, assuming that it is actually worth it - and there's a question, perhaps: when only doing home stuff, everyone's telling me that I need to get "into the gym", and get using leg presses and generally serious weight (which I'm not going to lift totally free, I can tell you that now; wrists wouldn't take it! Neither would the floor at home.)

For Legs, the only gym equipment I would use are:

- Bicycle (Pull up, as well as push down on pedal)
- Cross trainer (Keep feet to inside of pedals, toes near the front, heels down, don't bob up and down, go backwards and forwards).
- Rower
- Runner (I walk fast up hill)
- Helix (which works abductors/adductors)

The Leg press machine puts large forces on the lower back, so I don't use it.....better to use correct form with Free Weights, if wanting to do this.

In my previous list, I missed out Calf Raises - done on one leg, while holding a weight; and Toe Raises, using those stretchy band things.

There is a reason Pro Skiers use leg blasters: https://sawback.com/articles/leg-blasters/

You don't need to lift big weights to prepare your legs for skiing......I used to do that years ago, but imo a Leg Blaster type workout is far more effective - be careful not to start off too hard, as it will leave your legs very stiff, as it's generally thought that the Eccentric phase is what causes DOMS (which is why it's so effective for ski conditioning).
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@NickyJ, the one leg thing makes sense. Different feet angles too. What weight, speeds, reps and sets do you do? Do you not do anything for hammies?

@SBP, Can't get that link in the UK, it says Sad Leg blaster things I can do at home anyway (assuming that you're referring to the same as OF is).


For me, the Leg Blasters are more unpleasantly-stomach-bouncing, heavy out-of-puff cardio work than anything which is really strengthening and giving stamina to the legs (though I agree that there is a burn after a while). I'm doing those sort of exercises anyway (if not in that exact format), short/explosive and longer holds - definitely still burns!


So do people think that to rehab legs and get them strong (and hold knees together in my case) it's really not worth going to the gym at all, them? Darn sight cheaper and saves a lot of time if that's the case - but wasn't what I thought was being given out as general advice... Puzzled I know that in a previous post a while back on a similar knee/leg strengthening topic, I was castigated for not adding any weight to my squats... (but as said before, free weights don't really work with me, either at home or in gym - Smith machine might substitute, I suppose)
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@Grizzler, I find it worth it especially for the cross trainer and being able to go forward and backwards (I do 1min forward, then 1min back to total ice 10mins), give it a try and I bet you will feel muscles you didn’t realise you had Happy

As to leg press this is a closed chain exercise which I was told is by far best to stick to, and targets both hamstrings and quads. I am trying to get to 1.5 times my body weight and so 3 sets of ten on each leg in each position. Due to being unable to exercise much before having my shoulder operation l, I am building back up again and determined to reach my body weight (with 1 leg only) before we go skiing in less than 4 weeks. I am not far off.
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Grizzler wrote:
@NickyJ, the one leg thing makes sense. Different feet angles too. What weight, speeds, reps and sets do you do? Do you not do anything for hammies?

@SBP, Can't get that link in the UK, it says Sad Leg blaster things I can do at home anyway (assuming that you're referring to the same as OF is).


For me, the Leg Blasters are more unpleasantly-stomach-bouncing, heavy out-of-puff cardio work than anything which is really strengthening and giving stamina to the legs (though I agree that there is a burn after a while). I'm doing those sort of exercises anyway (if not in that exact format), short/explosive and longer holds - definitely still burns!


So do people think that to rehab legs and get them strong (and hold knees together in my case) it's really not worth going to the gym at all, them? Darn sight cheaper and saves a lot of time if that's the case - but wasn't what I thought was being given out as general advice... Puzzled I know that in a previous post a while back on a similar knee/leg strengthening topic, I was castigated for not adding any weight to my squats... (but as said before, free weights don't really work with me, either at home or in gym - Smith machine might substitute, I suppose)


Youtube link

http://youtube.com/v/1YM3OC4-Z1o

blurb from web page
Preseason Ski Conditioning
Train Eccentric Leg Strength
Posted by Mountain Athlete
Rob Shaul’s Mountain Tactical Institute in Jackson, Wyoming, is where skiers who are serious about what they do, including pro athletes, develop the strength and endurance required for high-stakes mountain sports. Here, he runs through a must-do routine to get ready for the ski season:

My biggest mistake as a strength and conditioning coach occurred the first year I designed a dry land training cycle for local skiers here in Jackson. Skiing is leg-intensive, and so was my program. My athletes did thousands of heavy front squats, back squats, loaded lunges, dead lifts, Bulgarian Split Squats … we hammered the legs. I completed the training sessions myself and we all built stronger legs, as measured by gym numbers. I was super proud of myself.

But the mountain isn’t the gym, and she wasn’t impressed.

I knew I had made a huge programming mistake my first run at the Jackson Hole Ski Resort, opening day, early in December. Halfway down the slope, my legs were dying! I had to stop and rest. I couldn’t believe it. I barely managed to ski half the day, before retreating to the lodge to cry in my hot chocolate.
Where had I messed up?

Upset athletes and intense research, including calls to the Olympic training center, drove me to the answer.My dryland program had focused on concentric leg strength. But alpine skiing demands eccentric leg strength. Think of concentric strength as “positive” strength. This is the strength you use to stand up from the bottom of a squat, or hike up a steep hill. Eccentric strength is “negative” strength. You use eccentric strength to lower yourself into the bottom of the squat, and hike down a steep hill. Eccentric strength absorbs force. Alpine skiing primarily demands eccentric strength. My program design had trained concentric strength. I’d swung and whiffed.

I immediately started searching for the best exercises to train eccentric strength. There aren’t many. The strength coaches at the Olympic Training Center told me they used a stationary bike originally built for nursing home patients. It mechanically pedaled against the patients, forcing them to fight and absorb the force pushing against them. The Norwegian ski team uses a pneumatic squat machine which allows the athlete to slowly lower a heavily-loaded barbell, and the machine lifts it back up.

Neither of these would work for me. I was stumped.

Then I remembered the “Leg Blaster” – a complex of bodyweight leg exercises I originally learned at a Vegas training conference. Eccentric training causes more muscle damage than concentric training. More muscle damage = more muscle soreness the next day. Basically, it’s not the hike up the mountain that will make you sore tomorrow, it’s the hike back down.

This is what I remembered most about the Leg Blaster: I was sore as hell the next day.

So for the dryland ski training cycle the following year I replaced all the heavy back squats and loaded lunges with Leg Blasters, and my athletes crushed it the first day at the resort.

The best thing about Leg Blasters is, no equipment is needed. We deploy two versions of the Leg Blaster workout: the “Full” and the “Mini.”

In the video below, you’ll see Marmot and Backcountry.com Athlete, Pip Hunt, blast through a Full Leg Blaster. Note how she goes all the way down and all the way up for each air squat, and lunges forward, not backward, during the in-place lunges. Also note how she sprints through the complex.
Here’s how they break down:

Mini Leg Blaster
10x Air Squats
5x In-Place Lunges (5x each leg, 10x total)
5x Jumping Lunges (5x each leg, 10x total)
5x Jump Squats

Full Leg Blaster
20x Air Squats
10x In-Place Lunges (10x each leg, 20x total)
10x Jumping Lunges (10x each leg, 20x total)
10x Jump Squats

Work up to 5x Full Leg Blasters, with 30 seconds rest between each effort for your dry land ski training. Be careful. Leg Blasters train eccentric leg strength and can make you terribly sore, so don’t start at the end.

Instead, perform Leg Blasters 3x/week, with at least a day’s rest between training sessions, for the 4 weeks before the season starts. This means 12 total training sessions.

Here’s the progression:
Sessions 1-2

10x Mini Leg Blasters, 30 seconds rest between efforts
Sessions 3-4

2x Full Leg Blasters, then 6x Mini Leg Blasters, 30 seconds rest between efforts
Sessions 5-7

3x Full Leg Blasters, 4x Mini Leg Blasters, 30 seconds between efforts
Sessions 8-10

4x Full Leg Blasters, 2x Mini Leg Blasters, 30 seconds rest between efforts
Sessions 11-12

5x Full Leg Blasters, 30 seconds rest between efforts

Only have three weeks to train? Don’t jump ahead. Start at the beginning of this progression and get as far as you can before the ski hill opens. This isn’t a gentle progression. It’s going to make you sore.

Train hard, and earn your early-season turns!
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@SBP, Exactly that.

@Grizzler, "For me, the Leg Blasters are more unpleasantly-stomach-bouncing, heavy out-of-puff cardio work than anything which is really strengthening and giving stamina" - Leg Blasters are much more than Cardio. You certainly couldn't do them for 20 minutes without stopping....1 minute is hard enough, so more like HIIT......but they simply condition your legs for skiing better than anything else, as explained in SBP's piece above.

Rehab could well be different to specific ski conditioning and should be guided by a Physio (preferably one that skis).

There may be something here: https://sawback.com/articles/fitness/rehab-leg-workouts/


Last edited by snowHeads are a friendly bunch. on Mon 20-01-20 12:12; edited 1 time in total
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Grizzler wrote:
and hold knees together in my case


So your knees are turning outwards when you squat / ski? If so the problem might not be leg strength but instead have something to do with your core or hips.

https://blog.mapmyrun.com/5-easy-fixes-keep-knees-straight-squats/
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@Grizzler, i've always used cycles (not just for fitness) and find the most benefit from it for leg strength and endurance.

More specifically, MTB, pedals with decent grip, ride on the ball/toe part of feet, put the seat post down and go up / down hills, standing up. Dont use low gearing to increase cadence/reduce resistance, but just apply the most torque you can reasonably manage to complete a set short route. Just repeat that short loop and you'll soon notice improvement level as observation is easy and comparable over successive weeks.

It has the advantage of being closed loop (more or less when standing) maintains alignment reasonably and generally prevents overload as you'll run out of aerobic first ordinarily.

Very simple if you have MTB and 30 mins to spare. It'll do most of, if not all, of the cycles needed for skiing and generally raise leg performance about that needed for any non competitive skier.
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@SBP, that's very interesting. The concentric/eccentric thing makes complete sense, once you think about it!
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under a new name wrote:
@SBP, that's very interesting. The concentric/eccentric thing makes complete sense, once you think about it!


They are very like HIIT and easily done anywhere you won't smack someone with windmilling arms or heffalump huffing Embarassed
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@SBP, I find that I am lucky enough to be in a place where I can keep myself fit without too much effort wink and after a few weeks skiing it's all dialled back in again. Plus, for years if I've been doing weights/machines in the gym I followed someone's advice that one should use slow returns. Which I guess is the same sort of thing.
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I'm a big fan of the blasters, just done first session of week 4, ie first full blaster and all good. As a reference HR got to 161, my max ( tested) is 193, and I know in proper Tabata on the bike I get into 180's, so it's a good cardio workout. Initially I was struggling with 3 minis, but the progression, although it seems steep, seems to work. I'll know in a few weeks how it works re skiing. I'm also doing stuff on a Bosu ball as well as regular cycling.

Going to have to go in a hotel gym in a bit as I'm away with work, so hopefully can keep myself entertained for an hour or so to keep the weight loss going.
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@DB, no, I mean keeping together as in not having parts of the ligaments which hold them together Madeye-Smiley (i.e. constant strengthening and 'rehab' required after ACL & knee injuries.)

Thanks all - a lot to read and think about there so far, and not tonight!
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I've found the two big things for skiing fitness are to be as light as you can be, remember every kilo gets multiplied in the turns and bumps, and riding a bike as much as you possibly can.

A friend of mine can max out the leg press machine without really trying, and after one run is cooked because he isn't fit and his size makes every effort twice as hard as mine.

May as well just hit the bike, treadmill and anything else that burns calories and gets you fit imo.
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Just tried my first real session of those leg blasters, trying to do them as fast as on the demo video (do others do them that quick?)
Can't get my bum down as far on the squats as she can either (not without holding onto something, anyways.
Did 3 full sets after a warm up brief row & cycle - yes, can feel some leg burn but, boy, am I CV unfit! Sad Lungs and dizzy head gave out long before the legs (just on the first set), and stopped me wanting to do a load more. Oh well, they must be doing something.
Maybe I'll slow 'em down a tad?
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Yep. slow them down, no need to sprint through them. Takes me just under 2 minutes for a full blaster I think. Done my second lot today of week 4, so 3 full and 4 minis, it's getting easier dare I say it, no real DOMS anymore and my technique on the jumpy ones is improved.
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I've added weighted leg blasters to the end of my leg day.

20Kg ViPR thingy on the shoulders

20x squats on a bosu.

20x individual single leg lunge (not alterating)

20x on other leg.

Drop ViPR

20x jump lunges

20x jump squats.

3 sets

Usually feels a bit sore the next day.
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I find the strength conditioning routine which I have done in the past for competitive track cycling has helped tremendously with my strength and endurance while skiing. The following work on all the main muscle groups involved in skiing as well as lateral and core conditioning. Doesn’t take long and all you need is a kettle bell or two which are quite cheap from Amazon. Just careful of your back. Take a look at the video put together by British Cycling coaches:


http://youtube.com/v/2mROpewU414
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SBP wrote:
Leb busters for the burn....
Just need a clear space and a few minutes
https://www.backcountry.com/explore/train-eccentric-leg-strength-for-alpine-skiing
wow, thanks for this SBP, I've been looking for a good way to improve my leg fitness and strength and this looks like it nails it (although I will defo do it slower than the lady in that video)
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I tried the mini leg burners this morning, tried to keep up a good pace, but the jumping lunges nearly killed me. I’m going to dial it back a bit, just stick to sprint squats and lunges and build up to the full program over a bit longer snowHead
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Sack the Juggler wrote:
I tried the mini leg burners this morning, tried to keep up a good pace, but the jumping lunges nearly killed me. I’m going to dial it back a bit, just stick to sprint squats and lunges and build up to the full program over a bit longer snowHead

Jumping is a killer...particularly Jumping Lunges.

The routine doesn't cover Side Lunges (not jumping), which can leave your legs very sore when you first start them - but the lateral movement is also particularly effective for skiing.

Jumping from side to side is great for balance, if you pause as you land on each leg, before jumping again (ie. without putting the other foot down).


Last edited by snowHeads are a friendly bunch. on Sat 25-01-20 19:45; edited 1 time in total
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Yeah, the jumping lunges (and squats) nearly resulted in my early demise too - wasn't sure if heart or lungs would give out first... Legs were - relatively speaking - quite content... Got easier once I'd done my second or third set though; seemed finally to have warmed up. Moral for me may be not to start jumping unless I'm already very muscle and cardio warmed up (static cycle, row and then fast squats and lunges) - by which time my legs probably are already knackered rolling eyes
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day two after doing the reduced leg burner on Saturday morning and I decided to wait another day before doing the leg burner again as my legs are still burning, and I'm hoping the burn will top out today and I can actually manage to do squats tomorrow Laughing snowHead I'm sure it will get easier with practice.
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Sack the Juggler wrote:
day two after doing the reduced leg burner on Saturday morning and I decided to wait another day before doing the leg burner again as my legs are still burning, and I'm hoping the burn will top out today and I can actually manage to do squats tomorrow Laughing snowHead I'm sure it will get easier with practice.

It can take 3 days for DOMS to settle down. Once the pain is gone, it won't come back, provided you keep at it...and don't suddenly go mad.

Also, remember muscles get stronger during the rest period (ideally 48 hours - but minimum every other day).
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Here's another variation that has calf specific exercises and burpees

https://www.skibro.com/blog/ski-fitness-workout-leg-knee-stability-for-skiers-of-all-ages-abilities/
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Squats and both normal and Romanian (straight legged) deadlifts should be all you need. Follow a programme such as Stronglifts 5x5 but just follow the leg exercises should see you start with a good technique and rapidly move up the weight and your strength.
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I'm on a Return-to-Ski (post-ACLR) program from my physio at the moment, and I guess it depends what you are trying to fine tune. In the gym my focus is on:

the leg press (aiming for 2x body weight on single leg 5 sets of 5 reps x 1.5 BW, and then 3x3 of heaviest possible to build to 2xBW, then both legs 3sets of double max single leg weight for 3-5 reps)

Lots of knee extensions for quads: single knees 5 sets of 10reps x comfortable weight, 3 sets of 5 reps of heaviest manageable weight, then both knees at double comfortable and heaviest weights)
Hamstring curls or single leg Romanian dead lifts
squats on the smith machine at weight that is comfortable
Foam roller of the hams to relieve any soreness and lots of stretching

In addition at home for alround stability he's got me doing crab walks (
http://youtube.com/v/xEuq4GdGYWc ) and monster/cowboy walks (http://youtube.com/v/flk_dTZJUDY ) with a resistance band to activate glutes, plus some static "running man" drills. Then lots of single leg calf raises with straight and bent knee.

Then couple of 1hour rides on the bike for knee and CV development

Hope some of this might help.
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@SusEpic, thanks.
Interesting, the differences in opinion (or approach) for ACL recovery. I was never sent into a gym at all, nor prescribed anything but various squats and lunges (though invented & added a few of my own stuff too); conservative post injury approach in my case, both legs.
Those fond of the Leg Busters, et al, seem not to bother with gyms, but you and NickyJ clearly have been directed there.

I feel that I'm not getting enough strength and stamina out of the LB and other static type home exercises (LB cardio, on the other hand, is a right b**ch), hence the desire to get at a leg press and other curl machines. Not getting huge 'burn' or delayed muscle aches etc from the LBs, so not sure if they're alone doing enough for me (3+ sets most days ATM, and a few other bits & pieces, but fair enough I'm not doing my usual static cycling as well). LBs do cause temporary tiredness of the muscles though, especially the jumping squats - more like skiing, maybe? Some delayed sluggish background tiredness too: so maybe something's happening.
Some nicer steeper (and drier) hills wouldn't go amiss though... Crying or Very sad
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Grizzler wrote:
@SusEpic, thanks.
Interesting, the differences in opinion (or approach) for ACL recovery. I was never sent into a gym at all, nor prescribed anything but various squats and lunges (though invented & added a few of my own stuff too); conservative post injury approach in my case, both legs.
Those fond of the Leg Busters, et al, seem not to bother with gyms, but you and NickyJ clearly have been directed there.

I feel that I'm not getting enough strength and stamina out of the LB and other static type home exercises (LB cardio, on the other hand, is a right b**ch), hence the desire to get at a leg press and other curl machines. Not getting huge 'burn' or delayed muscle aches etc from the LBs, so not sure if they're alone doing enough for me (3+ sets most days ATM, and a few other bits & pieces, but fair enough I'm not doing my usual static cycling as well). LBs do cause temporary tiredness of the muscles though, especially the jumping squats - more like skiing, maybe? Some delayed sluggish background tiredness too: so maybe something's happening.
Some nicer steeper (and drier) hills wouldn't go amiss though... Crying or Very sad

The proof of the pudding........

IMO. Unless you are dealing with the forces associated with skiing at 70mph and are trying to hold a tuck for 3 minutes - you don't need legs as strong as tree trunks. What you need is stamina and eccentric strength to maintain "holiday speeds" for a decent length run, without stopping every couple of minutes.

In fact, your position over the skis, along with your technique, has a huge impact on how tired your legs get.


Last edited by You need to Login to know who's really who. on Fri 31-01-20 16:04; edited 1 time in total
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@Grizzler, I seriously can’t remember the level of conversation about going to the gym. I was already a regular gym goer to supplement my fitness on top of playing hockey and cycling, especially to keep up running during the summer when hockey stopped. So I could have been asked “are you a member of” and then directed accordingly. It was too long ago and that level of detail didn’t warrant long term memory Happy
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@grizzler I think there are lots of different approaches with emphasis on different elements of the strength/endurance continuum.

Some of the info I was given for rehab by the NHS didn't really talk much about gym work either, and my surgeon prescribed lots of cycling or rowing. I wanted to make a full return to sport (squash as well as skiing) so wanted to make sure I was on the right track so looked for a sports physio.

My physio works with professional footballers and cricketers as well as "normal" people like us rehabbing skiers. Gym work is important for him as he can make sure he can focus on rebuilding strength of specific muscle groups (e.g. I was unable to manage knee extensions post-op). His concern with his ACLR folks is that to prevent future problems and potential re-rupture you need to have lots of strength "headroom" around the knee. So his footballers will be looking for 3x BW single leg press before they can even think of return to sport.

So that is why he's giving me lots of leg press and knee extension work to do. But everyone is right that it's not just knee strength that is important for skiing, but stamina and core/hip/knee stability/balance. Hence the other core exercises to build up the glutes and calves and hams. I appreciate the leg-busters are great exercise, but I'm not sure I'm up to them at the moment (or ever was even when playing squash) So to get me fully fit for skiing in 2 months I am, like @NickyJ, getting those last kgs on the leg press, upping the CV element on the bike for stamina and all the additional stability work around glutes and then some impact work in the final period to make sure.

As @oldfartbag says the proof is in the pudding, so I'm hoping I'm in good shape for a week of bluebird days.
Good luck with your rehab everyone. Very Happy
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Forgot that another issue for him is that to avoid re-injury, you need both legs to be in similar states of fitness and strength so you don't get any imbalance, so leg press etc in the gym allow him to assess that absolute number both sides.
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To each their own, but what works for me is stairs. Lots of stairs. Real stairs, outside in the fresh air, moving dynamically, maintaining your balance so your whole body is involved. Not a lab rat on a machine in a stinky gym. I'm kind of old school, obviously.
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Scooter in Seattle wrote:
To each their own, but what works for me is stairs. Lots of stairs. Real stairs, outside in the fresh air, moving dynamically, maintaining your balance so your whole body is involved. Not a lab rat on a machine in a stinky gym. I'm kind of old school, obviously.

I knew chap years ago, who was a Doctor and a good skier - and he ran up grassy hills , both forwards and backwards, in Welly Boots!
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@Scooter yes, I'm walking the dog up the steep side of the south downs here in Sussex (and down and up and down again). I wasn't a gym bunny before either, but in my case, there was no way I would have got back to almost normal post ACLR without some pumping iron.
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