Laura May Williams

Sochi is creating a huge buzz around snowsports at the moment and is bound to be adding extra enthusiasm to anyone yet to depart for their ski holiday – and it’s not too late to get fit.

The benefits of following a pre-ski fitness programme speak for themselves.

More Time on The Snow

The fitter you are, the more endurance you will have, both on a single run and over the course of your holiday. You will also recover quicker, between runs and from day to day – ensuring you are in good enough shape to enjoy your après ski and feel fresh in the morning.

Injury Prevention

A ski specific and weight loading fitness programme will make you more robust and improve your reaction times, balance, co-ordination and flexibility. This all works together to help you avoid being thrown off balance and avoid injury if you do fall.

Technical Gains

Being in good physical condition will ensure fatigue is not a limiting factor in improving your technique and performance.

Fat Loss

Overall fat loss will enhance your agility and help offset the potential weight gain from the highly calorific and delicious mountains cuisine that you don’t want to miss out on.

As well as being an all over body workout, skiing is both an aerobic and anaerobic activity. Interval training (e.g. rowing, running, crosstraining) has been proven to secure quick gains in cardiovascular fitness. As for your muscles, these work in the following ways:

  • Legs continually flex and extend throughout the day;
  • Muscles of the back and core work hard to resist the forces fighting against you to keep you upright;
  • Muscles of the hips and glutes help stabilize you throughout the turn;
  • Calves remain in forward flexed position in your boots;
  • Poling requires effort from the triceps and shoulders.

And this is all for between four and six hours day…

Your specific fitness needs will vary depending on your level, (beginner – advanced) the way you ski (do you want to cover as much as the mountain as possible or prefer the cruisey blues and hot chocolate stops?) and skiing ambitions (do you prefer the off-piste, want to tackle the moguls, determined to improve, or happy where you are?).

To cover all bases and keep you strong and safe on the mountain it’s best to work on all the key elements that combine together to make total ski fitness: balance, agility and co-ordination; muscular strength and endurance; cardiovascular fitness, plyometrics (explosive power for more advanced skiing) and flexibility training.

Top exercises to do in the gym include weighted squats, deadlifts, weighted step-ups, multi-directional lunges, single leg work and anti-rotation core work. Here are a few examples:

Work up to 3 sets of 12 reps for each exercise

Box/Chair Push

Box/Chair Push     Box/Chair Push

Good for: quads, glutes, balance

Make it harder: push up onto toe, hold dumbbells


Lunge     Lunge

Good for: glutes, quads, hamstrings

Make it harder: hold weight against chest or overhead


Hindu Press-up

Hindu Press-up     Hindu Press-up

Good for: back, core, triceps

Make it harder: raise one leg

The ideal timeframe to embark on pre-ski fitness training depends a lot on your starting point but any preparation you can do, will help you get more out of your ski holiday.