Pre-Season Ski Fitness

green ski slope

Maybe the single most important factor that the majority of skiers or boarders don't do (or do but it's too late) is to prepare your fitness well in advance of your ski holiday. Simple stuff that will allow you to enjoy your holiday even more.

What's the key to staying injury free on the slopes? Pre-season ski fitness training that's what!

If you plan to take a ski or snowboard holiday, you should begin preparing for it at least three months before you go. That's where the pre-season training can really make a big difference. You'll be one up on most of your mates - so be able to do those 'later in the week' daredevil stunts!!!

There are several benefits to pre-season training :

  • You'll be able to ski or board longer and harder each day
  • You'll perform better
  • You'll be less fatigued at the end of each day (and ready to enjoy the nightlife!)
  • And perhaps most importantly, you'll dramatically reduce your chances of injury

Lack of Fitness Can Mean Injuries

Injury is the curse of winter holidays, with the most common injuries being damage to the anterior cruciate and medial collateral ligaments in the knee. This is an injury that can incapacitate you for months, and accounts for up to 40% of all injuries to skiers.

As previously mentioned, the time to look out for is Day Three (if you make it that far!) as your body will be physical exhausted from the demands of the on and off slope activities. Preparing your fitness will mean you may actually make it through the whole week with no ill-effects.

How to Get In Shape?

In a nutshell, there's three key areas that we'd suggest you focus on: Strength; Endurance; and Flexibility.

Strength Training

Focus on your legs, but don't completely ignore your upper body. Exercises such as squats, leg press, lunges and calf raises will help build the muscles in your legs most effectively. Leg extensions and leg curls can also help.

Increase Flexibility

Making sure you are flexible will hugely reduce the chances of injury. You should include stretching as a regular part of your cool down, or else add an activity such as yoga or Pilates to your schedule.


Often ignored when preparing for winter sports, after all gravity does all the work, right?

The truth here is you will be on your feet for hours every day, working hard at high altitude - endurance is essential. Sports where you are on your feet are best - running, stepping, cross trainers, and cycling will also help to build up the all important muscles around your knees.

Aim to include one longer cardio session per week to supplement your regular shorter ones. Simply add five minutes per week to one of your 20 minute workouts, and within 8 weeks you'll be doing an hour's workout.

Finally, adding some work on a balance board or stability discs will improve your coordination and balance, helpful when you hit the slopes.

What Does a Fitness Program Look Like?

We have got some examples of some beginner, intermediate and advanced programs here, bit in essence it's about striking a balance. A good balance would be :

  • Strength training - twice a week
  • Cardio training - two to three times per week
  • Flexibility training - after every strength or CV training session

You must keep a record of the weight you are lifting and whether you are able to work for longer at the cardio after a few weeks. This will give you a measure of your improvement.

Fitness Programs

We've put together some simple and easy to follow fitness programs that you can either do at home - or in the gym.

+ Beginners / Basic Fitness Program

+ Intermediate Fitness Program

+ Advanced Fitness Program

By Will Smith