Photo of Dino Haak

Dino Haak

Professional Ski Expert

Ski Training Gear

Featured On:

  • SkiMag
The ski season may be over, but the next season is coming soon and you don’t want to lose those hard-earned muscles you’ve developed over the past few months on the slopes. Haven’t skied in a few years? You definitely have some work to do! Cardiovascular workout such as jogging outdoors or bike riding (either outdoors or in the gym) is not only recommended, but a must for building up stamina for the next ski season. Any workout will help, but in order to target the right muscle groups, I recommend working with a certified personal trainer who has ski fitness experience. Alternatively, you can find some very good books on ski exercises that will guide you through the drills to target the right muscles. For those of you who don’t have the time to drive to the gym or perhaps not have one available nearby, don’t worry, there is some awesome home training equipment designed specifically with the skier in mind to help you out.

In order to get ready for the upcoming season, I typically start my training regiment in early to mid September. By that time I have usually done lots of hiking, have well-trained leg muscles, and am in very good shape when it comes to the cardiovascular side of things. However, I still have lots of work to do strengthening the specific muscles I will need for skiing so that I won’t have to wimp out on my first six to eight hour teaching days at the beginning of the season.

Over the years I have used equipment similar to what is reviewed in this article and the results have been amazing. The equipment reviewed here not only specifically targets the main muscles groups used in skiing, they will also help to improve balance and develop our cardiovascular fitness.

Best Ski Training Gear by Dino Haak

The Best You Can Get

  • CAT Ski

    Dino says: The first thing I’ll say is: Wow! I am really glad I have a buddy who owns one of the superb training devices and who lets me try it out to my heart’s content. The CAT Ski is not easily found in stores, but you can order it online. CAT Ski stands for Classical All Terrain Ski and it is somewhat of a mix between a cross-country ski and a roller ski; however, it really intended for use in the summer, not in the winter. It has two main elements, a bottom part and a top part with rollers. Interestingly, the bottom of the ski does not glide at all. For every step you have to lift the ski and make a small jump forward. The bottom of the ski will grip on the surface beneath while the upper element slides along entire length of the bottom element which, in the meantime, is being kept in place by big a rubber band that shoots the ski back forward once you lift it up again. You can change the rubber bands (or bungis) from less to more resistance in order to simulate different types of slopes.

    At first I was a little bit reluctant to include this gem in this review as using it requires a pretty steep learning curve in the beginning, especially if you have never cross-country skied before. However, all of the home training equipment reviewed here needs a certain amount of practice in order to master. Even if you do not have a cross-country teacher handy in your neighborhood that can teach you the perfect technique, the CAT Ski will still give you a great ski-specific workout. I noticed that even just walking at a moderate speed without doing the classic sliding and arm-swing got my pulse up and had me sweating. Shifting your weight from ski to ski, you really need to work hard to keep your balance and doing so will be of great benefit to your alpine balancing skills. After a 30-minute try-out, my legs felt sore in the right ski specific places. The CAT Ski is an amazing piece of equipment!

    • Great cardiovascular workout
    • Very good training for ski-specific muscle groups
    • Improves balance
    • Great outdoor training tool
    • Built-in brake system for safety
  • NordicTrack Classic Pro Skier

    Dino says: The NordicTrack Classic Pro Skier really is among one of the classics when it comes to ski exercise equipment. It simulates the motion used in cross-country skiing, but lends itself wonderfully for alpine conditioning exercises as well. The most beneficial exercise equipment for skiing usually incorporates a full-body-toning with emphasis on the legs, involves some sort of balancing, and at the same time improves your cardiovascular fitness. And the Nordic Track Classic Pro Skier does all that! The Nordic Track Classic Pro Skier does give you a calorie-burning, full-body workout, but it also focuses on where your strength is needed most (at least for alpine skiing): your legs. The NordicTrack Classic Pro Skier does require a lot of balance, with is really awesome for your alpine skills, just make sure you start slowly and get the hang of it before you let loose. And be sure to follow the instructions. I had the benefit of having this machine explained to me by a trainer who told me to keep standing upright and not to lean forward. Once you get the hang of it, you’ll love it, and it’ll give you the full-body workout you’ll need for the slopes. You can use both your arms and legs to get the machinery into motion, but you also have the option to just concentrate on your legs only. It is generally safe to use (again, follow the instructions) and puts very little stress on your joints. I use it often… well not in my lazy summer months, I have to admit… but as soon as September rolls around you’ll find me on it.

    • Great to improve balancing skills
    • Full body workout
    • Improves cardiovascular fitness
    • Burns lots of calories
    • Low impact on joints
  • Creative Fitness Rug Runner Deluxe Package with Poles and Ski Rope

    Dino says: The Creative Fitness Rug Runner Deluxe is awesome! It is small, not expensive, and oh so effective. What you have in the Creative Fitness Rug Runner is a small piece of exercise equipment that you can use on your rug at home, even while watching TV if you want to. You basically need to balance on two small plastic beams that are connected by two curved aluminum rods. Alternately push down on either side to begin your swaying motion. This movement will greatly improve your balance and coordination, as well as strength. This package definitely has been designed with the alpine skier in mind (who can use the additional poles), although not only the alpine skier will benefit. It will also work for the water skier who can try the supplied towrope to help keep balance on the rug runner. Using the Creative Fitness Rug Runner Deluxe is not easy, at least in the beginning. I fell off it a couple of times, but then I started laying into it. Not a good idea though, you should really start off slowly. Once you get the hang of it, you will be surprised by how easy it is to maintain your balance. For the alpine skiers there are two extendable pole attachments that can be fastened to the runner and will make it easier keep your balance. I do love this machine. I don’t own it yet, but soon will. The Creative Fitness Rug Runner does not only get my highest recommendation, this is one of the pieces of training equipment I will from now readily recommend to all my students.

    • Strengthens muscles, tendons, and ligaments
    • Very reasonably priced
    • Very small package, easily transportable
    • For use on your home rug
    • Superbly improves balance, coordination, and strength
  • Extreme Balance Board

    Dino says: The Extreme Balance Board is another amazing device to improve your balancing skills. The Board moves pretty much in all directions, side-to-side, forward, and back, and at all angles. The Extreme Balance Board differs from other balancing boards in that it features a tiny curved wooden rocker, which is connected to the main board by a flexible center piece. The center piece, in combination with the curved rocker, can turn in all directions and at a variety of angles. What I like about this set-up is that it is more versatile than boards with a static build since you are able to adjust the amount of swiveling and thus make balancing either easier or harder. All you need to do is remove a set of plugs located at the center piece. The plugs are intended to restrict some of the motion and by removing them the board becomes considerably more wobbly and harder to balance. I really enjoyed trying out the Extreme Balance Board and can highly recommend it as an outstanding tool that not only helps in building muscle but also improves balance, core strength, reaction time, and coordination. All the important stuff you need to be able to shine on the slopes.

    • Outstanding balance improvement
    • Builds core strength
    • Ability to adjust degree of wobbliness
    • Very good quality construction
  • Pro Fitter Cross Trainer (3-D)

    Dino says: Also called “The Original Ski Machine”, the Pro Fitter is an amazing tool to get you ready for the slopes. The Pro Fitter is basically a small platform with wheels mounted on a roughly two-foot-long railboard that slopes down on both sides. Standing on the wheeled platform, you slide left and right from one side of the rail-board to the other and thus simulating turns made on a ski slope. I remember my granddad used to own a similar device years ago, and, as a teenager, I would go to his house and work on it until my legs started getting wobbly. The main difference with my granddad’s trainer was that you also had poles on each side to help you balance while sliding left and right. The Pro Fitter does not have the poles, but that’s actually even better. It’s harder to balance, but you’ll get the most out of your training, exercising your muscles while improving you balance at the same time (and big time!). I really like that, with the Pro Fitter, you pretty much simulate making turns on the slopes, shifting your weight form one ski to the other. The Pro Fitter will also provide you with an excellent cardiovascular workout. Even though it seems to be an easy task at first (well, you’ll probably need a few tries to get comfortable and trust the equipment), you will soon notice your pulse going up and will definitely feel your legs getting a workout. Fantastic! That is exactly what is needed to get in shape for the upcoming season.

    The Pro Fitter is also a very effective device to use as a tool for injury rehabilitation, as you can safely strengthen knees, ankles, hips, and back without too much strain on these areas. It comes with a 29 minute instructional video that I would really recommend you watch in its entirety, as it will help you get the most out of your equipment.

    • Very ski specific exercise tool
    • Trains all the muscles you need for skiing
    • Amazing cardiovascular workout
    • Gentle on your joints
    • Comes with 29 minute instructional DVD

You will be happy with any of these

  • Indo Balance Trainer Original Training Package

    Dino says: You have to try the Indo! A very common training tool for snowboarders and skateboarders alike, the Indo is about as perfect a device for alpine skiers as well. The Indo Balancing Trainer can pretty much be described as a skateboard without the wheels. You have to try and balance on a wobbly soft inflatable cushion. Even though the Indo Original training package comes with the cushion, the “original” way to use the Indo is with the supplied balancing roller. The balancing roller is about the size and shape of two and a half large soup cans fused together. The goal is to keep the Indo board balanced on top of the roller while moving it from left to right, slightly shifting your weight to either leg. Careful though, the roller is tricky, which is why I recommend using the cushion at first, especially for alpine skiers who are not used to the kind of balancing required on a snowboard, surfboard, or skateboard. I remember my first experience with an Indo-type device that was rigged together by some of our snowboard instructors. They used a skateboard sans the wheels with a roller made of a 1.5 liter plastic water bottle that was tightly wrapped with heavy duty tape (so the bottle wouldn’t break). I was invited to try the device and the next thing I knew I was landing on my behind with everybody laughing up a storm and having a good time at my expense. Start with the cushion!

    This one will give you a fantastic workout. Just balance the board while pushing down on either side simulating the weight shifting you would do while skiing on the slopes. Balancing will be easier with a less inflated cushion and more challenging with one that is more inflated. There are also many other uses for both board/cushion and board/roller combinations, such as doing push-ups on it or balancing while working with dumb bells or stretch bands. It is hard, fun, and highly effective! You won’t only be giving your legs a great workout; your core muscles will be getting a phenomenal one as well.

    The Indo Board is available in nine different design/color combinations such as Natural, Blue, Green, Rasta, Wave, Surf, Carve, Peak, and Pink.

    • Package comes with board, roller, cushion, free demo CD, and bag!
    • One of the very best tools for improving your balancing skills
    • Provides major core muscle workout
    • Great work out for ski specific muscle groups
    • Very lightweight and easy to transport
  • Balance Bow Professional Balance Trainer

    Dino says: If you do some research online, you will find a variety of different types of balancing boards. I have had the chance to test a few, not all, of course, but if you want to increase your balance and build your muscles in the most time-effective way, I would suggest trying the boards reviewed in this article. In my opinion, whichever type of training equipment you choose, if it won’t improve your balance, it probably is not a very good training tool to get fit for the ski season. I was very impressed with the majority of balancing equipment I tested and the Balance Bow is one of the ones I found particularly amazing. It is basically an approximately three-inch long rubber band attached onto a heavy-duty steel frame. You can stand, walk, or squat while balancing on the band or do any type of other exercises while on the board. The Balance Bow is not an easy-to-learn piece of equipment, but I think that’s awesome. Once you have the hang of it and balance on it for a good a mount of time, you know that your balancing skills have already improved. As the advertising announces, the Balance Bow as a tightrope “with the spring response of a trampoline.” The Bow is designed to be used by itself, but some of the most effective training will occur if you start doing other types of exercises—like dribbling a basketball or even lifting light weights—while balancing on the device. There are many different ways to use the Balance Bow. First of all you can change the tightness of the band in order to make balancing easier (tight) or more difficult (slack). The Balance Bow comes with a pair of poles to assist with balance, and they also help you simulate shifting weight from leg to leg while standing on the board, thus getting the optimal balance/muscle training need for the slopes. A fantastic piece of gear that will last you a very long time.

    • Great balancing tool
    • Improves core strength
    • Comes with a free pair of balancing poles
    • Heavy-duty steel construction
  • Bosu Balance Trainer

    Dino says: The Bosu Balance trainer is small, easy to pack or carry, and built on a very simple, yet effective, concept. Imagine a small exercise ball that is cut in half and resting on a polymer platform. The Bosu trainer comes with a pump and one can inflate it to make balancing easier. Let some air out and you’re in for a harder game. The Bosu Trainer has not been designed specifically for skiing, but there are number of exercises you can do with it that will provide you with some of the best training you can get ready for the slopes. Exercises, such as stepping off and on the trainer, as well as stretching one leg while balancing on the other, or getting into a downhill racing position while shifting your weight back and forth from leg to leg are just some of the highlights a skier can expect. You can also flip the Bosu trainer over and try balance on the platform side. This is pretty hard, but so effective. You can use the Trainer at home or take it to one of the many Bosu classes offered in the gyms around the country. One of my students swears by this particular exercise, just before ski season, he uses the Bosu an hour every day, mostly while watching the evening news on TV.

    • Lightweight and easy to transport
    • Soft rubber hemisphere is easy on your joints
    • Can be used in classes offered nationwide
    • Fantastic balancing tool
    • Very good core muscles exercise device
  • Fitterfirst Wobble Board

    Dino says: This classic balance board is really the most basic, simple, yet highly-effective device you could wish for to improve your balance. It is basically a round disc mounted on a small wooden rocker about the size and shape of half a tennis ball. The board is made of high quality wood, it is highly packable, light, and really inexpensive. But don’t be fooled by its simplicity. For example, try standing on it close to a table so you can still hold onto something. Then just try to stand, doing nothing else. Even if you are trying to stand still, you’ll eventually tip slightly to one side or the other. This is when the dance begins. I first thought this would be way too easy, until I started the dance, which means I lost my balance, urgently trying to regain it. And in the process I started to wobble the board more and more until I quickly had to jump off before I took down my parent’s living room with my flailing arms. Yes, my mom has one and now I own one as well. She uses it every day, just stands on it and balances or moves her upper body to do light stretches all while keeping the board from wobbling. Once you have the hang of it, you just need small adjustments in your weight shifting to keep the board from getting into a wobble. It almost feels like you are not doing much, but after fifteen minutes of just standing on the board, I feel how my muscles are getting a workout and how I am actually working up a sweat. If you are on a budget but want to get a full workout, the Fitterfirst Wobble Board should be high on your list. There are many other Wobble boards out there, but the Fitterfirst impressed me by its quality of build and perfect size.

    • Lightweight, small, and easy to transport
    • Very reasonably priced
    • Great workout for your leg, ankle, and core muscles
    • Very good balancing tool
    • Great workout even with (what seems to be) minimal input
  • The Sun Harmony Chi Exercise Machine

    Dino says: Last but not least, a more “esoteric” approach to training. The Chi Machine. I use it, I love it, and it works! It may be the perfect exercising equipment for all us lazy ones out there (and I may lead that group at times). With the Chi machine, you literally can exercise not only while lying down, but also while being perfectly relaxed at that. All you do is put your behind on the complimentary rotating disc, put your feet onto the machine, and let it sway your legs (and the whole body) elliptically at a gentle speed. Sounds to good to be true? Stay with me!

    My mom sparked my interest for this piece of equipment a few years ago and I have been using it ever since. When I first tried it out at my parents’ house in Germany, I was warned not to overdo it the first time. Only five minutes is suggested for the first time users. Well, I had to go further, of course, and I let the machine do its work for fifteen minutes. Afterward, I could barely stand up, my legs were wobbly, and my heart beat had been going up. I could definitely feel the benefits to my muscles. So it is true, you get exercised without having to do the work. And it is amazingly relaxing at that.

    For use as a pre-ski-season training tool, the Chi machine does a great job conditioning the body, and especially the legs, for more specific training to come. It is said to improve the oxygen flow in your system while reducing stress. It is also a safe tool to get your body in shape in case you have problems with your spine, knees, or other parts of your body, as it does not put pressure on any of them. I recommend the Chi machine to all my students, and five of them now own one of these units. I use it during the season to loosen up my stiff limbs after a long day on the slopes. I also use it as a warm-up before I do more vigorous ski-specific exercising. There are plenty of different models out there and one of these days I may review them as well. The Sun Harmony Chi Exercise Machine is the one I own, and it has some of the best specifications at a reasonable price.

    • Full body workout
    • Exercise without putting strain on your spine, knees, or hips
    • Improves oxygen flow throughout the body
    • Great conditioning tool

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