Training Tips for Chicks #4: Shoulder Stabilizers & Leg Strength

If you are new to the Chicks Training Tips take a few minutes to read the previous posts, there’s a lot of great information in there.

Hail all you skiers and ice climbers, winter is here! I hope your training is progressing nicely. We finished up a segment on balancing pulling and pushing movements in the last two installments and touched on single leg strength tests and training.

Don’t forget all the great training you’ve learned so far and keep implementing it! Next on the list we add additional shoulder stabilizers and leg strength for mountain athletes.

Our shoulders are vital to all sports and they are a joint that is frequently at risk. Falls during climbing and skiing (heck falls in general) can have a huge impact on that joint. We can have an enormous range of motion (ROM) in our shoulders – to have that ROM our shoulder joint needs to be very strong and very stable to reduce risk of injury.

I’ve already mentioned static holds which are fantastic for training stabilizing muscles (see last post):

  • FLR – front leaning rest on rings
  • Ring Support – again a hold on rings
  • Handstand Holds – just what it sounds like
Beyond static holds we need to implement maintenance movements:

Front Raise – Standing holding light DBs in hands with glutes engaged and shoulder blades retracted raise DB in front of your torso to eye level and lower without loosing retraction in shoulder blades 3 x 8.


Lateral Raise – Standing holding light DBs in hands with glutes engaged and shoulder blades retracted raise DB to the side to eye level and lower again without loosing retraction in shoulder blades 3 x 8.


Reverse Fly –  Bend forward as for a bent over row, raise DB to the side by retracting the shoulder blades and engaging the deltoids, lower 3 x 8.


Y’s with Bands  – Using a band attached to an object at knee height, raise arms to 11 o’clock and 1 o’clock retract shoulder blades during the entire movement. 2 x 8


Low Trap Flys with bands – Bend over as for Bent Over Row, only not as far and separate legs. Then with arms bent and elbows lower than shoulders, with band under forward foot, fly the arms back. 2 x 8.


Now that you’ve got rock solid shoulders…let’s address those legs.
After you test your single leg strength and you create balanced strength in both legs (from last post). Let’s look at two extremely important and beneficial strength movements: The Deadlift and the Front Squat.
The Deadlift is the queen of all movements addressing core strength, grip strength, glute strength and, when done properly, protects the back during all lifting and stabilizing movements. You can begin practicing this movement with a heavy kettle balls (KB) then progress to an Olympic bar.  Begin by approaching the bar, stand with weight on the heels, bar nearly touching the shins. Retract your shoulder blades, have your feet slightly more than hip width apart and feet turned slightly out if necessary to keep lumbar spine neutral as you squat down to grasp the bar. The arms should be outside the knees and not crowding the knees. Once you grasp the bar, make sure you look at the floor a body length in front of you and not at the horizon to protect the neck. Engage your entire core, lumbar spine, glutes, upper thoracic, abdominals, grip, and stand up with the bar. When lowering the bar down the movement is the same, do not run bar down legs!
The Front Squat is exceptional for building strength to stabilize the body in the unpredictable world of skiing with changing snow conditions and building the core strength to manage a pack while skiing or climbing. The Front Squat can be tricky, mostly it’s a squat performed in perfect alignment like a wall squat (see previous post). However, we have to choose how to hold the weight and that can be the tricky part depending on your arm anatomy. I’ll show a couple of options in the video, however the goal truly is to perform a perfect squat, nose, knees, toes in line with the weight above your center of gravity without allowing it to pull you forward at all, to quads just below parallel.
As I’ve mentioned before, we want to work with weights, set and reps that make us strong! We want to target, more sets x fewer more demanding reps. If you can easily perform 10 reps of any of these exercises it’s time to make it harder gals! 5 x 5, 5 x 3, 6 x 2. Review this post for more information. First and foremost get proper coaching and instruction if you have any questions on any of the movements discussed here.
For our next installment I’ll discuss what a WO might look like when you start putting all these elements together.
We are just scratching the surface of strength training. There are many many elements to cover, frequency of workouts, what type of workout to do when, strength vs. power, what is power endurance. I will continue to cover these topics in the Chicks blog and for more detailed information regarding programming of this nature you can contact me at or
Signing off for now,
Carolyn Parker
Athlete, Trainer, Guide