For Mikaela Shiffrin — three-time Olympian, world champion, all-around GOAT of downhill skiing — the off season might mean a break from the slopes, but training to stay the best in the world means plenty of time in the gym. According to Shiffrin’s latest Instagram post, she relies on a combination of weightlifting moves and Pilates to keep her in snow-carving shape. Shiffrin, one of the most-decorated American alpine skiers of all time, says these moves are “super effective in prepping for those race-turn forces.” A little bit of context for you: slalom skiers and giant slalom skiers reach speeds of 43 mph and 50 mph, respectively, while downhill skiers fly at around 80 mph — and Shiffrin skis all three of those events. No wonder she’s taking her off-season training seriously.
The 27-year-old says she likes the versatility and multijoint effectiveness of Bulgarian split squats. “[T]hese can be weighted in so many different ways,” she says, including with dumbbells, a kettlebell, a barbell, or just your bodyweight. And with proper form, Bulgarian split squats target your core, quads, glutes, and hamstrings, as well as working on your balance, she adds, all of which is “[g]reat for building a wide range of stability and strength for the mountain.”
As for kettlebell swings, Shiffrin notes that they’re “super effective” at building strength through the posterior chain (aka the backside of your body, including your glutes, hamstrings, and back) and stabilizing her lower back without overworking it.
Pilates, meanwhile, is “straight-up nourishment for the whole body,” Shiffrin says. The skier describes this super-trendy workout as “a serious combo of a lot of core, upper body, hip, leg strength, and active mobility,” and says her sessions vary depending on what she needs that day: some are recovery-focused, others are all about intense core work. “It’s been a godsend for me over the last few years,” she writes.
While most of us won’t be competing for downhill skiing medals this winter (and are totally OK with that, BTW), Shiffrin’s favorite exercises and workouts have solid benefits no matter what your goals are. Bulgarian split squats and kettlebell swings are great ways to build functional strength in your legs and core, while Pilates is a great combination of mobility, core work, and bodyweight resistance training. This lower-body strength workout and these Pilates workouts are a great place to start if you’re feeling inspired — or check out Shiffrin’s world-title-winning runs in March if you need a little extra motivation to hit the mat and the weights.