Laura May WilliamsIf you’re about to go skiing for the first time you can look forward to experiencing the satisfaction and glory of seeing real improvements on a daily basis. As your control improves and the slopes get steeper your progress will feel tangible.

However, something that goes hand in hand with this alien and occasionally counter-intuitive physical activity is an inevitable amount of slipping… sliding… and falling over – which can be exhausting. To have some trepidation is entirely natural, but what you can control, is how physically prepared you are.

Ensuring you have a good level of all round fitness will help keep you strong and safe on the mountain. Benefits include maximum numbers of hours spent on the snow, improved confidence, minimized risk of injury and ensuring you remain alert enough to really enjoy your holiday, on and off the slope.

There are several components that combine together to make total ski fitness:

1) Cardiovascular fitness
A good level of cardiovascular fitness will help equip you for spending an average of between four and six hours on the mountain a day, at altitude where there is less oxygen (meaning your heart has to work harder to pump blood around the body), whilst concentrating for long periods of time with the acquisition of new skills.

2) Flexibility
If you are flexible with a good range of movement you’ll be less likely to pull a muscle should you be thrown off balance or fall awkwardly.

3) Proprioception (balance, co-ordination and agility)
Proprioception is the biggest indicator of injuries and is a vital component to skiing ability. If you were proficient in any single legged sports or sports requiring balance (eg skateboarding, rollerskating) when you were young you may have an advantage. However, no matter what your age, what’s great is that it can be dramatically improved with a bit of work.

As a benchmark, time your stork. Stand on one leg and shut your eyes:

A single leg forward reach is also an excellent exercise since it combines quad and hamstring strength with balance.

Single leg forward reach

     

Repeat x 10 each side, work up to 3 sets

 

4) Muscular strength and endurance

Ensuring your muscles are conditioned, and keeping your training relevant to the task will help stave off muscle fatigue. There are several activities that you do more of as a beginner skier:

 

  • Side stepping up hill

  • Holding snow-plough position and beyond

  • Sitting on button lifts

  • Pushing yourself up from the ground

  • Poling (using your poles to push yourself a long the flat)

 

The following four exercises are excellent for preparing you for these and your first week’s skiing:

 i) Monster walk (Lateral steps with theraband)

     

Position band just above knees, knees soft, lean forward slightly at hips, take smooth, controlled sideways steps, keep tension in band.

Repeat x 10 each direction, work up to 3 sets

Good for: Medial glutes

Make it harder: Increase tension in band / hold barbell across shoulders

 

ii) Static lunge

      

Keep feet in fixed position, bend back leg (squeeze glute) so knee is one inch off floor, return to standing, don’t let front knee come further forward than ankle. Repeat x 10 each side, work up to 3 sets

Good for: quads, glutes

Make is harder: Hold weights / hold medicine ball above head

 

iii) Turkish get up

               

 

               

Follow pictures 1-8 then work back down, so you start and finish in prone position. Keep your eye on the weight so your hand doesn’t drift.

Repeat x 5 each side

Good for: Everything!

Make it harder: Increase the weight, replace kettle bell with a barbell

 

iv) Hindu press up

Start with elbows flat on the floor, palms down, shoulder distance apart. Swoop forward and down to plank position, push back up.

Repeat x 10, repeat up to 3 sets

Good for: Triceps, shoulders, core

Make it harder: Lift one leg

 

To take your training even further try weighted squats, deadlifts, lots of anti-rotation core work and plank variations – Be strong, Ski strong.