Ski Fitness for Your Holiday
You’ve booked the ski holiday, bought the gear but how prepared are you physically for a ski holiday? We examine why your ski fitness will really matter and what you can do about it - even with a hectic day schedule.
The good news is that if you have a good baseline of fitness the challenge is not that great. If your level of fitness is poor then you will need to set aside more time and effort pre your holiday.
Before we examine a fitness programme one thing you should do straight away is deal with a pre-existing injury, this may require some physio or specialist exercises or stretching out to deal with the issue. If you don’t deal with this first it could easily flare up during training or worst case scenario on the holiday.
Why You Need to Be Fit for Skiing
It Prevents Injury
If you don’t do a special skiing workout before you go on holiday then you can get injured. This is because you use different muscle groups to the cardio exercise you may do week in week out in the gym. Getting injured could ruin your holiday, so why risk it? You also need to put the issue of altitude into the mix, as this can affect your recovery from exercise.
You may not get injured but if you don’t exercise you could feel pain and discomfort which could affect how much you enjoy the skiing each day and even stop you from completing a day on the slopes.
Improves your skiing
It goes without saying that if you are fit for skiing then you will ski and snowboard better than if your muscles are screaming out in pain!
Before you ski you need to build up your endurance, flexibility and strength. Let’s start with your aerobic capacity.
Aerobic activity will help your cardio fitness for skiing and boarding. Aim to do 20 minutes to 1 hour three times a week. Aim to work at around 50-60% of your max heart rate. If you are not on a machine that helps you measure this then this means you can just about talk while you are working out.
Good workouts for skiing are cycling and cross trainers. One machine that some gyms have is called Skiers Edge, this is the only machine we know of allows you to work in a lateral plane.
If you enjoy running then you can jog but the downside of this for skiing is that it can put too much pressure on your knees.
In addition to the above try and build in one long slow workout each week for 60 minutes, this will help condition your legs and lungs for a long day of skiing.
Build your strength
There are certain muscles that will really help you ski and snowboard. Quadriceps are probably the most used muscle, they hold you in position as you ski and provide protection for the knees. To really help these it’s all about squatting and lunging. Hamstrings and glutes are also really important so try some deadlifts, one legged deadlifts, pullthroughs and hamstring rolls.
It goes without saying that your inner and outer thighs take a real caning, they work hard to keep it all together so get lunging, side stepping squats, inner thigh leg lifts, to name a few.
Calves also have to work hard so that you stay upright, so work out your calves by doing simple calf raises. Your abs and back are also crucial when skiing. Sits up and back extensions are useful. Finally don’t forget your arms, work those triceps and biceps.
Don’t forget to stretch, after all that endurance and strength training your muscles will need it. Here we list the three most important stretches for skier’s and boarders.
Lying Knee Roll Over Stretch
Lay on your back, bend your knees and let them fall to one side. Keep your arms out to the side and let your back and hips rotate with your knees. This is a great stretch for all those muscles on either side of your body.
Kneeling Quad Stretch
Kneel on one foot and the other knee and push your hips forward.
Standing toe up Achilles stretch.
Stand upright and place the ball of your foot onto a step or raised object. Bend your knee and lean forward.
Other Considerations for a Succesful Ski Holiday
So you’ve trained and are in peak shape for your ski holiday, then you go and borrow equipment that isn’t right for you, a sure way to get an injury. Borrowing ski boots or even skis in not a great idea. If you don’t have your own equipment always hire from the resort. They will ensure that the boots, ski or snowboarding, fit you and the skis or board has been maintained and suits your level of expertise.
Eating and drinking is all part of many ski holidays. But do be careful, drinking and then skiing is not a great idea, it will impair your ability to make the right decision and could give you a feeling that you can do things you simply don’t have the skill to do!
Drink lots of water as well as dehydration is not great for good performance.
It is interesting that before we do a fitness programme in the gym, go for a run, play a game of football we would always warm up but many of us go out for a day’s skiing with no warm up at all.
So how should you best warm your body up for a day on the slopes?
Standing leg swing
Holding on to something swing your leg forward and backwards. Remember to do both legs and you should start to feel your legs getting warm.
The rotating lunge
Lift one leg and lounge forward and then rotate your torso from side to side, then step up gently and switch sides. This warms up the legs and also warms up your sides for all that twisting on the slopes.