Do you find yourself getting tired halfway through your skiing or snowboarding holiday? The reason might be that you haven’t prepared your body during the weeks leading up to your trip. Ensuring you do some fitness training for the ski season is essential to reduce the chance of injuries and falls and it will also improve your performance on the slopes.
Winter sports use different muscles to the usual exercises you may do at home, such as running and cycling, so you need specific training to prepare yourself properly. And don’t forget, ski resorts are at high altitude, so the body will tend to tire more easily if your fitness levels are not up to scratch.
To get yourself in ski-ready shape, focus on building endurance and strength, along with plenty of stretching.
Your cardio personal training program should include:
3 to 5 days each week of cardio. The best for skiing is the cross trainer as well as running/jogging.
A variety of workouts at varying intensities lasting from 20 to 45 minutes.
One long, slow workout each week for 60 or more minutes to condition your legs and lungs for long days of skiing.
Skiing is a whole of body exercise that uses all of your muscle groups, but some muscles are used more than others. Those are the ones you want to concentrate on during your strength training.
Quadriceps. Probably the most used muscle in skiing. They hold you in position as you ski and they also provide protection for your knees. Great exercises for the quads include squats and lunges. Note: the controlled lengthening of the quads from straight to bent is called eccentric training. Eccentric strength absorbs force, which is the kind of strength skiing demands, so focus on going slow on the way down.
Hamstrings and Glutes. When skiing downhill, you typically hold your body in a flexed position, meaning you're leaning forward from the hips. This requires great strength from your hamstrings and glutes as they help stabilise your body. Work your hamstrings and glutes with deadlifts, one legged deadlifts, step ups and hamstring curls. Remember, when it comes to skiing, we very rarely ‘fully contract’ the hamstrings (heels touching your butt), so like the quads, its more important to work on ‘destabilisation’ and slowing down the ‘eccentric’ phase of your exercises.
Calves. Because your knees are bent as you ski, your calves help you stay upright so you don't fall over (your ski boots help too). You can work this muscle by doing standing calf raises or machine calf raises.
Abs and Back. Because you're in a flexed position, bent over, your back has to work hard to hold your body in that position. Your abs help too, while also protecting your spine. Your lats get involved as you ski on a flat surface or uphill, using your poles for leverage. Work these muscles with exercises like bicycles, woodchops, back extensions and dumbbell rows.
Core strength. The plank is an essential exercise to help improve your core strength, which helps with your stability and support for skiing. You can also introduce ‘destabilisation’ into your other strength exercises to help recruit core stabiliser muscles, such as squatting on a Bosu.
Arms. Along with your back, arms help push off with your poles while stabilising your shoulder joints. For skiing fitness, you’re best training for endurance on the arms, not for bulk. Focus on doing slightly lighter weights and increase the reps and try to add in rotations (twisting the forearms) where possible.
A great way to integrate the above elements into your existing routine is to create a circuit-training program, which involves rapidly moving from one exercise to the next.
Lastly, don't forget to stretch! Being flexible is another way to keep your body safe from injury.
Could you do with some help getting fit for the ski season? Why not engage a personal trainer in Sydney to develop a tailored program specific to your needs? Or perhaps join group fitness training sessions with other ski lovers?