Even though at first glance it might seem like gravity is going to be doing the lion’s share of the work, skiing is a physically demanding sport working out muscle groups many of us forget we even have!
A general level of fitness is always a good thing to have, but if you want to make the most of your days on the slopes you’ll need to start doing specific exercises to prepare for skiing at least a few times a week in the run up to your ski holiday.
This high-intensity interval training (HIIT) style workout is designed to help you build strength and improve your cardiovascular fitness. You’ll work on your core and your balance but the main focus here is on leg exercises.
Do I need to get ski fit?
As you’ve landed on this page, you’re probably asking yourself ‘Do I need to get fit for my ski holiday?’. The answer, in a word, is: yes. After all, the last thing you want is to finish each early, sat in your accommodation exhausted and sore, when you could be enjoying yourself at après ski with everyone else!
Luckily you don’t need to spend hours a day in the gym – we’ve teamed up with Alpine Physiotherapist Jo Pollard, who has worked with multiple national ski and snowboard teams, to create an at-home workout that won’t take up too much of your time.
This routine is designed to get you ski fit as quickly as possible. In an ideal world you would start doing these ski exercises 8 weeks in advance of your holiday but 4 weeks will still help you build plenty of stamina.
Even if you’ve only got a couple of weeks left before you set off don’t stress too much, a bit of exercise is still better than nothing 🙂
How do I get in shape for skiing?
There are four key elements to work on before you’re ready to hit the slopes:
1 – Cardiovascular Fitness
Getting your cardio levels up will help you prepare for the reduced oxygen levels at altitude.
2 – Leg Strength
You’ll spend a lot of time in a squat position and your power, ability to turn and ability to stop all come from your legs – you need to make sure to strengthen your legs.
3 – Core Strength
Don’t neglect your upper body! Having a strong core will help your stability and improve your overall skiing and snowboarding performance.
4 – Flexibility
Working on your flexibility will increase your overall mobility and can help you avoid injury. A ski-specific yoga routine will help both flexibility and core strength and can also improve your coordination which can help with skiing technique.
Jo Pollard’s Full-Body Mountain-Ready Workout
This routine should only take you between 20 and 30 minutes a day 3 or 4 times a week in the run-up to your holiday.
Doing a series of 8 exercises for 20 seconds each with a 10 second rest in-between each exercise means you’ll be working hard for 4 minutes at a time – the same amount of time as an average ski run.
The aim is to repeat the entire circuit 4 to 6 times, but if you can only do it a couple of times that’s fine too. Don’t push yourself too hard and don’t forget to consult your GP before starting a new workout routine.
Ski Squat Pumps
A great skiing exercise for legs, these squat pumps are great at mimicking the dynamic movement of skiing and snowboarding.
Start in a squat position with your feet shoulder width apart and quickly drive up and down for 20 seconds making sure not to let your knees fall inwards.
Split Leg Lunge Changes
Another great dynamic leg exercise that will wake up your hip flexors.
Start in a lunge position, making sure to bend your knee in a 90-degree angle over your front foot. Drive upwards and switch legs. Repeat for 20 seconds.
Hop and Stick
This one is great for developing your balance and control.
Start standing on one leg and drive sideways to land on the other. Focus on a controlled landing before hopping back to the other foot. Keep your core engaged throughout.
Lateral Ski Bounds
Ready for some more dynamic leg work?
Start in a squat position before powerfully exploding upwards and sideways, coming down into a squat, and repeating.
Make sure that when you land and squat your joints (ankles, knees, hips) all align one on top of the other.
Runner’s Reach (Left Leg)
Start on your left foot with a soft flex in your left knee. Slowly reach forwards and down with your right hand whilst extending your right leg behind you.
When your hand reaches the floor quickly and powerfully use your glutes to drive your right leg up to a 90-degree angle. Repeat for 20 seconds.
Squat 180 Jumps
Mixing things up with a bit more dynamic leg work, this exercise is great for working all the small stabilising muscles that help with turning.
Start in a squat position and explode upwards, turning around a half rotation in the air. Complete another half rotation in the same direction before turning back the way you came for the next two 180-degree jumps.
Runner’s Reach (Right Leg)
As above but with opposite feet/hands.
Squat Hold Touchdowns
Great for balance as well as leg and core strength you’ll (surprise, surprise) start off in a squat position with your feet shoulder width apart. One side at a time, reach out to the side and touch the floor outside your feet.
Repeat, alternating sides for 20 seconds, remaining in a squat position with your core engaged throughout.
Following this simple at-home workout circuit will help you to prepare for your next ski holiday but don’t stop thinking about fitness once you get to your chosen ski resort be it Flaine or Serre Chevalier!
Try to begin each day with some warm up exercises and light stretching, and finish off with some active recovery exercises to cool down before you head off for afternoon tea or après. There is strong evidence that both fitness levels and flexibility play significant roles in injury prevention.