How to Get Ski Fit - A Guide

ball twists ski

Are you heading for the mountains soon? Do you want to avoid the burn in your thighs and the cramp in your calves? Though packing the right kit is essential, there is only so much an expensive pair of skis and boots can do. 

It is important to be in tip top condition when you hit the slopes, so that you can ski longer and harder, perform better, reduce the chance of injury and of course be less tired at the end of the day so you are ready to hit the nightlife. Make sure you plan ahead and give yourself a realistic goal as many personal coach recommended. There are three main areas you should focus on:

1. Strength

Skiing uses muscles that don’t normally get used on a day to day basis, so it is important to strengthen these up before you hit the slopes, so you don’t tire easily. You will more than likely feel it in the legs but the core muscles will also get a workout. Squats, leg presses, lunges, heel drops and calf raises can help build those muscles up.

Top Exercise Recommendations:

Squats: Stretch your thighs and stabilise your pelvis to boost your endurance and technique

  • Stand with your feet slightly wider apart than your shoulders and keep your knees slightly bent
  • Squat down, then jump and land back in the start position, whilst keeping your knees bent to absorb the impact
  • Aim to do three rounds of 15 squats at a time, taking three seconds to squat and one to jump; breathe in as you squat and out as you jump

Heel Drops: Build the strength in your calves, ankles and glutes

  • Stand on the balls of your feet on a step with your heels over the edge
  • Lower your heels until you feel your calves stretching (you can hold your balance by pushing your bellybutton in towards you spine, which will also tighten your core)
  • Lift as high as possible (above your toes) so that your calves can tighten
  • Lower and repeat 15 times

2. Flexibility

Skiing can pull your limbs in all sorts of directions and being flexible will reduce your chance of injury, even if you cartwheel head-first down the slope! It will, of course, improve your technique, enabling you to ski harder and for longer. To increase your flexibility, include stretching as part of your cool down. Yoga and pilates are great too. 

Top Exercise Recommendation:

Ball Twists: Increase your range of motion

  • Lie face up on a gym ball in a bridge position, keeping your head and shoulders on the ball, torso straight and legs bent at the knees
  • Hold your arms up towards the ceiling, with your hands together
  • Pull your bellybutton towards your spine, then twist your torso and arms to the left, and then to the right
  • Do three sets of 15, keeping your hips raised and your legs still

3. Endurance

Endurance is a must, as unfortunately gravity doesn’t do all of the work and standing on your feet all day and working hard at altitude can be tough. Activities such as running, stepping, cross training and cycling build up the muscles around your knees. Try and do these exercises 3-5 times a week. Every little bit helps, so if you struggle for time, try cycling to work or getting off one stop earlier on the tube or bus.

Top Exercise Recommendation:

Running, Cycling or Swimming: Cardio-vascular exercise

  • Aim to be working at 70-90% of your maximum heart rate - this is 220 divided by your age
  • Complete four sessions of 20-30 minutes per week 

Summer is the perfect time to get started on your fitness plan. Work on these exercises over the next few months and you will be fit and ready for your next ski holiday, making sure you get the most out of the piste and the powder!