Just as you might brush up on your language skills before a trip to Europe or get trim for a beach holiday, it makes sense to ensure you are fit before you go skiing.
The benefits speak for themselves: maximised number of hours on the snow, quicker recovery (between runs and from day to day), enough energy to enjoy the après ski, feeling fresher in the morning and a reduced chance of injury.
With any sporting activity, your preparations should be relevant and specific. Whether you are a beginner learning the snowplough or mastering the parallel turn; or an advanced skier working on your moguls, carving turns at speed or the balancing act required in powder, skiing is an all-over-body workout:
- Legs are continually under tension flexing and extending throughout the day;
- Calves remain in a forward flexed position in your boots;
- Muscles of the back and core work hard resisting the forces fighting against you to keep you upright;
- You use your arms and upper body more than you think carrying skis, poling along the flat and pushing yourself up off the ground (an inevitable part of the learning process);
- Muscles of the hips and glutes are essential for stabilization during faster turns and side-stepping.
…. and this is all for between four and six hours every day!
By following a ski specific fitness programme to prepare you for these activities will help make you feel strong and confident on the mountain. This should include the following components.
1) Balance and agility
Improving your reaction times and balance can help you avoid a fall.
2) Strength and conditioning
Conditioned muscles will help stave off fatigue and weakness that go hand in hand.
Having a good cardio base will ensure you can ski all day and help you avoid the physical fatigue that leads to loss in concentration (and potentially accidents). It will also prepare you for the harder rate at which your heart has to work to pump oxygen around the body at altitude.
4) Flexibility training
If you are flexible you’ll be less likely to strain a muscle should you be thrown off balance.
This is the explosive power needed for more advanced skiing.
Here are three pre-ski exercises to try. W ork up to 3 sets of 12 reps of each exercise.
Lateral lunge to curtsey
- Good for: glutes, hips
- Make it harder: hold weight against chest
- Good for: quads, glutes, balance
- Make it harder: push up onto toe on standing, hold dumbbells
Weighted jump squat
- Good for: quads, glutes, explosive power
- Make it harder: increase the weight, perform x 10 small pulses on landing
Laura May Williams from www.fitfortheslopes.com is a qualified ski instructor and personal trainer specialising in ski fitness offering one to one personal training (London based) and on-line programmes. To sign up now or for any further tips and advice contact [email protected].