Being physically in shape can make the difference between a week spent smashing powder or cruising slopes, and a week spent nurturing aches and pains or worse. But what can you do to get fit for skiing, reduce your chances of injury, and get the most out of your holiday? In this article we’ll be looking at some basic information to start you on the road to ski fitness. Be aware your first steps to making a fitness programme are tailoring it to your current fitness levels.
Fitness, despite what many magazines try to tell you, does not happen in a week. The longer you have to train towards your goals, the better your training and end results will be. There is no point in a sprinter running for hours nor a marathon runner training to bulk up their upper body. Likewise you need to train the right areas for skiing. The main aims are anaerobic fitness (the body’s ability to work without oxygen for short periods of time), strength and power. If you like hiking mountains on your ski holiday then it might also be worth preparing yourself with some endurance training too.
Sprinting on a treadmill or bike is a very effective way to train both anaerobic fitness and power and prepare yourself for a skiing. Rather than jogging for hours, you can do five to ten sprints of 15 seconds to 1 minute, with rests as you need in-between. This will train your ability to work without oxygen (if you’re not out of breathe you’re not sprinting yet!), while also training your legs for power and power endurance (your legs are doing lots of big quick extensions when you run). Some say having the ability to work without oxygen can also be important in the powder snow.
The main muscles in your body we need to consider are in the legs (as anyone who has spent a long day on the slopes can tell you). If you are aiming to build up strength, power and endurance in your legs, how can you do this? The basic exercises are some of the best – squats and lunges should be an essential part of a skier’s workout and this will definitely help you to power through the bumps! For the more experienced athletes, one of the best ways to train your legs for skiing is to include plyometric exercises. This involves explosive movements and controlled landings, for example, jump squats.
Balance and stability are important skills for skiing. These originate from our core – the muscles around your abdomen and spine. A great ways to focus on your core is through the plank. This exercise involves holding your body still and straight in an altered push-up position, with the elbows and lower arms on the ground. The brilliant thing about the plank is that you can vary it according to your fitness needs. Beginners can start by just holding the position for 10 seconds and then gradually extending the time. A strong core you will help you to maintain your balance when skiing in hard and variable conditions.