One of the top three-event skiers in the world, French National Team member Marion Mathieu has held consecutive overall podium finishes at the past two World Championships, and a Moomba Masters jump crown in 2009. A dramatic change was made to her training regimen during the 2009 off-season.
“I had always trained during the off-season, in the gym, mountain biking and working on my cardiovascular system, but I never had a real sense of direction in my approach,” Mathieu admits. The first thing she did was identify her weaknesses and address them. “I knew I wanted to be faster and more powerful on my skis; I wanted to feel more agile. Plain and simple: I wasn’t strong enough in the right areas.”
That area was centered on her core strength. Her old gym routine was comprised of the timeless squats, lunges and rows, which was allowing her to get by, but she was lacking the strength in her core muscles that would allow her to move freely on the water. “Your overall strength can be traced directly to your stomach and lower back,” Mathieu says. “A strong group of core muscles allows me to move faster and with better balance in my tricks and ensures I can carry a strong cut into the ramp without breaking forward at the waist.” With the help of a personal trainer, Mathieu created a set of dynamic resistance exercises that has given her results in the competitive arena. “I’m more consistent in both practice and tournaments, and that is giving me the confidence to ski to my potential.”
Mathieu’s medicine ball plank push-ups
1. Assume a plank position. Marking the location of your hands and feet, place four soft medicine balls where each of your hands and feet would be.
2. Resume your plank position with your hands and feet slightly inside the four balls.
3. With a tight core, slowly place one hand, and then the other, on their respective medicine balls.
4. Slowly lower your chest until your elbows are at a 90-degree angle. Contract your core muscles while returning to your starting position. (Do 10 reps.)
5. For your next set, slowly move your feet atop their respective medicine balls. With a tight core, slowly place your hands on their respective medicine balls.
6. Slowly lower your chest as you perform a push-up. Tighten your core as you return to the starting position.
(Do 6 to 8 reps.)