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How to Get Fit for Skiing

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As the school holidays draw to a close and nights begin to draw in, every skiers mind turns to that first day back on the slopes. But before that, you'll need to make sure you're fully prepared - and that means physically too.

As fun as skiing is, it is a tough, physical activity that you'll be spending hours doing every day. And you probably won't have done that since your last ski trip. Prepare your body properly now and you'll reap the rewards when you're actually out on the mountain. Plus, you'll be less likely to injure yourself.

If you're leading a school ski trip this year, it's worth making sure that your students are aware that they'll need to get themselves physically ready too. And, of course, the earlier you start, the better!

In order to make sure you're ski fit, you'll want to make sure you work on three key areas - endurance, strength and flexibility.

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Endurance

You could be skiing for 4-6 hours every day - which is tough going for anyone. In order to make sure you can hack this, you'll need to work on your cardiovascular fitness. And the best way to do this is through aerobic exercise.

Aerobic exercise is pretty much any exercise that raises your heart rate. So why not take up running or cycling? Cycling is extremely popular among professional snow sports athletes, as it's one of the most similar activities to skiing in terms of the stresses on the body.

Running is great exercise (particularly if you want to lose a bit of weight at the same time) and, of course, it's great if you're on a budget or low on time - you could run around your local park or neighbourhood and save on the gym membership! The only downside to running is that, as it is high impact, it can damage knees.

If you are planning on heading down the gym then, as well as the exercise bike and treadmill, hop on the cross-trainer too! Another great aerobic exercise, it's also low impact (so kinder to the knees) and can break up that endurance training nicely.

You should really be aiming to work out three times per week, for up to an hour per session. You can expect to really start to notice a difference in your endurance fitness within about six weeks.

Strength

When skiing, you're going to need to be able to rely on your muscles - in particular, your quads and glutes.

The quadriceps are the muscles at the front of your thighs. They're important for skiing because they're what you'll use to bend your knees.

There are a number of exercises you can use to build these muscles up, including squats, lunges and leg presses. Ideally, you should start building up your quads at least 12 weeks before your ski trip. Trust us, you'll definitely notice the difference if you do!

The glutes, or gluteal muscles, are those around the buttocks and hips. Skiing and snowboarding both require a huge amount of external hip rotation, so it's important that you build up these muscles too. Again, there's loads of exercises you can try - squats, lunges, deadlifts and step ups are all great. And if you're a bit bored of those, why not give kickboxing a try?

You'll also want to work on your core strength and stability, especially if you're planning on venturing off-piste at any point during your trip. A strong core can also help increase your speed and will improve your stance, taking some of the pressure off of your back. Some great exercises to work on your core include oblique crunches and planking.

Flexibility

Our top tip for increasing your flexibility is to get stretching! Yes, stretching is important before and after exercise, but you can also do a little bit of stretching here and there throughout the day, independently of exercise. This will lengthen your muscles and tendons, which in turn should help with avoiding injury.

It's particularly important to stretch those leg muscles - including your hamstring, inner and outer thighs, calves and quads - as it's these that will take the most pounding when you get out on to the slopes.

Where next?

There's a wide range of websites and apps out there designed to help skiers get in shape for the slopes. Our top tip? Find a routine that works for you - you need to enjoy working out or you simply won't do it.

Got any tips of your own you'd like to share? Head over to our Facebook page to let us know how you get in shape for skiing!

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