There is a popular saying: 'Don't ski to get fit, get fit to ski', and armed with this sturdy advice our Inghams fitness experts are on hand to give you our best pre-ski trip preparation workout. Guaranteed to strengthen your knees, ankles, back and core, as well as stave off exhaustion, you'll be on peak performance allowing you to make the most of your precious time on the mountain.
The sense of achievement at the end of a day of intense skiing is unbeatable, and just a week or two of this regular exercise can do wonders for your wellbeing (as well as your abs!). To make the most of it, you’ll probably want to physically prepare in advance with a pre-ski exercise routine.
You don’t have to be a dedicated athlete to enjoy yourself, but two or three sessions every week prior to skiing can help to ensure you can make the most of your time away, taking on slope after slope. Here, we’ll talk about the best ski exercises to undertake before you jet off to your snowy paradise.
Build on your endurance levels
If you plan on making the most of every moment you have on the mountain, you’ll want to make sure your endurance levels are as high as possible.
The best way to do this is to ensure that, in the weeks leading up to the trip, you’re engaging in regular cardio.
We’ve outlined an example routine below, but this can be adjusted in accordance with your current fitness levels, and built upon week-by-week during the lead up to your holiday.
• After stretching, undertake 10 minutes of brisk walking. The aim is to walk with enough speed and effort that you feel your heart rate gently increase, but you’re still able to hold a conversation and breathe relatively normally.
• Once you’ve completed your brisk walk, it’s time to start running. Ideally, you should run continuously for 20-30 minutes. However, if your endurance levels aren’t quite at this point, break up running with segments of brisk walking. The aim here is to break a sweat and increase your breathing, though it is important not to push yourself too far and cause an injury.
• After this period of running, complete the workout with another 10 minute brisk walk. This will help to reduce your heart rate and bring your breathing back to a normal level.
You should aim to undertake this exercise around 2-3 times per week, increasing the amount of running time as much as you are able. Ideally, begin this at least five weeks prior to setting off on your holiday, as it will allow you to ski for much longer when you arrive, thus making the most of your trip!
Work your key muscle groups
Skiing requires strength in various muscle groups to help keep you upright, as well as maintain proper posture and positioning on your skis. There are various exercises you can undertake at home to help develop the most important muscle groups to improve your stance and stability once you hit the slopes.
To build strength in your legs, start with a squat. Place your feet parallel to your hips, and squat until your thighs create a 90 degree angle. From this position, hold for around 30 seconds, then relax your muscles by standing straight.
Repeat this exercise 5-10 times.
After a series of squats, work your inner thigh muscles with a side lunge. To do this, place your feet wide apart (about double the width of your shoulders), and push your hips back and to the right side. Keeping your right leg straight, bend your right knee into a 90 degree angle and hold.
Repeat on each side 5-10 times.
Next up is your core. We recommend crunches as a simple exercise to strengthen your stomach and back muscles. To start, lay your back and head flat on the floor, with your knees bent and feet placed flat on the ground, hip-width apart. Place your fingertips at your temple, to create a 45 degree angle with your arms. Engage your stomach muscles, and lift your upper body towards your knees. It’s important to ensure you only lift using your stomach, and not your neck. During this motion, keep your arms in the same position. Slowly release by moving your upper body back towards the floor.
Repeat this exercise 20-30 times in one session.
If you want to up the ante, a plank is the perfect next step for a solid core workout. To perform a plank, bend your elbows and rest your weight on your forearms, ensuring the rest of your body is fully laid out behind you on the floor. Engage your stomach muscles, and bring your feet beneath yourself so you are balanced on your forearms and toes. Hold your body in a straight position for 10 seconds to 1 minute depending upon your fitness level. Slowly release back into the starting position.
Repeat 5 times.
Finally, to work your back muscles, perform a superman. To begin, lie on your stomach on the floor with your arms stretched in front of you. Engage your stomach muscles and lift your arms, shoulders and legs off the floor – you can expect to raise them about two inches. Relax, and lower your arms and legs slowly back to the starting position.
Repeat 10 times.
The more regularly you undertake these exercises, the more you will feel your muscles develop. Aiming to undertake them every other day starting a month before your holiday will help to develop the strength you’ll need for skiing.
Stretch and flex
Flexibility is a hugely underrated part of skiing. Being able to achieve key positions is important for a safe ski, and if you’re as stiff as a board, you’re more likely to fall or hurt yourself. These exercises take inspiration from yoga and Pilates to improve your body’s ability to bend into position safely.
Start out with a pretzel position. To do this, sit on the floor with your right leg stretched out in front of you. Place your left foot flat on the floor beside the outside of your right knee, so the leg is crossed in front of you. Twist your torso as if you are looking over your left shoulder and hold for 30 seconds. Repeat on the other leg.
Two knee spinal twist
Lie on your back, and bend your knees so that your feet are resting flat on the floor. Stretch your arms out beside you at shoulder height, and lift your feet until just your toes are touching the floor. Slowly roll your knees down towards your left side, whilst turning your head to the right. Maintain your core, and ensure your stomach doesn’t move. Slowly roll your legs and head back into a central position, and repeat 10 times on each side.
So there you have it: every exercise you’ll need to prep for the slope. As always, before undertaking any new exercise, check with a healthcare professional to ensure you don’t do yourself more harm than good. These suggestions can all be adjusted and built upon according to your own fitness levels, and can all help you to prepare your body for your amazing skiing holiday!