Whether you are a regular skier or a first-timer, the average one week skiing holiday really can separate the suitably-fit from the ill-prepared.
There is no doubt that the whole experience is far more enjoyable when the body can cope with the challenge, when your energy, stamina and endurance can keep up, and when the legs can remain stable enough to take you through to the après ski fun.
And, let’s face it, no-one pays the substantial cost of a skiing holiday to spend half of it recuperating at the lodge. If you want to make the most of what can be a fantastic holiday – and stay safe, without necessarily playing it safe – then a bit of pre-holiday conditioning is a must.
The time required to get ski-fit
If you are less than a month away from take off don’t worry, every bit of extra preparation you can do will pay off. The ideal however is to start your pre-ski exercise programme 6-8 weeks before you head out to the slopes.
In terms of frequency for your pre-ski workout, 2-3 times per week would be the target, plus an additional 30 mins or so of Cardio twice per week to get the heart and lungs pumping, ready for your high octane adventures!!
Don’t worry too much about forsaking your general training regime; the exercises you are undertaking here provide the same overall fitness benefit – just enjoy and embrace the slight change of focus!
The areas to concentrate on
Skiing is hard on the knees and the thighs so, unsurprisingly, exercises targeting these areas feature strongly in my recommended training plan. Your quads, hamstrings and glutes will be the muscles taking the majority of the strain, so the stronger these are before you hit the slopes, the more control you will have (and the less you will ache when you take your ski boots off).
Your core and hips also need to be strong to avoid backache and to ensure good mobility and balance, and obliques of Iron will be the key to you having at least a degree of ‘directional management’ as you hurtle down the mountain.
The exercises to include
The following list is by no means exhaustive (there are alternatives which are equally suitable) but these are my ‘Super 7’ go-to exercises for clients who are heading to the slopes:
I was almost tempted to have squats as numbers 1, 2 and 3 on my list as there’s nothing quite like a squat to build strong legs. Whether standard, jump or even wall squats, involving weights or not, in my book squats are king for skiing.
Second only to the squat for leg strength is the lunge. Again, these are available in a number of flavours, and I personally like to include a mix of walking lunges, squat lunges, and jump lunges to really work those quads, glutes and hamstrings.
Including a number of twists to your routine will build the strength within your obliques - something you’ll be glad of when you are attempting a turn or change of direction as you come down the mountain. Russian twists incorporating weights are particularly good for working the key muscles you’ll rely upon.
Jumping on and off a low step whilst maintaining the ski position will not only aid propulsion, but it will also allow you to master the maintenance of good foot/ knee/hip positioning. The addition of lateral hops over a small obstacle (even just a rolled up towel) is a great way to practice foot control and soft landings.
- Leg Lifts
The single leg deadlift is a very effective body-stabilising exercises, consecutively working the hamstring, glutes and core. This is a great way to enhance balance and has the added benefit of building ankle stability too.
Yes, it’s the ubiquitous plank! Good for everything – core strength, balance, endurance…what’s not to love? Standard planks are fabulous, but if variety is what you seek, then why not add a tabletop, incline, arm-lift or leg-lift plank too, just for good measure.
- Floor exercises
There’s a wide range of choice within this category, but I particularly like to add side leg raises, inner thigh leg raises, inverted inner thigh openers, donkey kicks, clams and glute bridges. The key to success is to ensure that both legs are worked equally, and that good technique is maintained throughout your sets, even when you start to tire.
I hope that this has given all you lucky skiers some ideas to get yourself ready for the off. Whilst getting into ski-shape is ideally a two month plan, I can promise you that you will be glad of every single hour of training you manage to squeeze in before your trip.
If you would like some more help with the detail – techniques, reps etc. - just get in touch and I can put the finishing touches to your bespoke personal ski-training programme.