There has been some debate here in the past on "functional training" - e.g. Luke's Carlson's interview here.
Rob from Mountain Athlete has some good comments today:
I have started your 2 weeks of strength training for skiing... pretty cool!!
I would have maybe one recommendation/question. I got an ACL reconstruction about 18 months ago and the quad on which I had surgery is still a little smaller than the other one (on the inside side of the leg). Now, I can do everything I was doing before without even thinking about it, but sometime it feels like something is still not moving right (a lot of "poping" and tendonitis feeling). One exercise that I discover recently is the "pistol" (single legged squat). It is a great exercise for me because it trains each leg separately, it is surprisingly hard and it works a LOT on the balance and the stability of the knee. Furthermore, I found that it improved the way my injured leg is now absorbing the impact after jumping...
Anyway, I think it could be a great exercise to include in your ski workout program... Do you have any thought on this exercise?
Also, if you have any thought on getting the muscle mass of my injured leg back, please let me know?
I think the pistol exercise is mostly a circus trick .... what I mean by that is it's not strength dependent. Once you "figure it out" balance wise, or through bunches of practice, the athlete can do it. But I question its transferrabilty. In other words, does doing pistols make you good at doing anything other then pistols?
I don't argue that it takes bunches of balance and stability, and I'll have athletes with injuries do single leg squats.... but only if they can't do double leg.
Also, I question the single limb theory in general -- that somehow training single limbs individually increases overall strength.
Finally, I don't believe in training "balance" in the gym using pistols, BOSU balls, foam pads, etc. I feel this is an inefficient use of gym time. First, again, I question the transferability of gym balance skills to the real world.
Skiing balance, in this case, is very sports specific - it's really a technical skill that is most efficiently "practiced" by skiing.
The gym is best used, in my opinion, for strength and conditioning. I want to send my athletes to the slopes strong, with the understanding that their technical skiing skills will be rusty. But if they are strong, they won't need to use those vital first few weeks of ski season just getting in ski shape - they can get right to working on their technical skills. The earlier they can work on their technical skills and wash away the rust, the faster they can begin to improve those skills.... and thus become better skiiers.
Just like the gym is an inefficient place to "practice" technical skills, the ski slope is an inefficent place to "train" strength and conditioning. The best use of the slope is to practice technique.
Add mass to your legs? Lift heavy. Drink 2-3 protein shakes/day.