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By Suzanne NottinghamThe key to your knees is to train for strenght, support, and balance.
Every skier and snowboarder has heard it more than once in their life: "Bend your knees." That's particularly good advice for tense beginners or intermediates who look rigid. But what appears to be "knee bend" in experienced skiers and riders is actually a kind of functional relaxation, something that becomes a habit in all good athletes because of one important fact: Relaxing the knees facilitates balance.
Below are four exercises to develop knee strength, balance, and quickness using apparatus found in most gyms. Add them to your usual strength exercises before and during ski season. In preparation for winter, don't ignore aerobic conditioning (try cycling or in-line skating) or the flexibility provided by stretching.
Suzanne Nottingham is a fitness consultant based in Mammoth Lakes, California. She serves on the Governor's Council for Physical Fitness and is a part-time ski instructor at Mammoth Mountain.