Skiing is what we love doing. So much so that it’s easy to forget that it is an intense sport which requires a good level of fitness. We find out how the pros prep for winter…
Fitness is the foundation of skiing and this is true whether you’re lapping your favourite chair or touring to the untouched powder. We’ve teamed up with New Generation Ski and Snowboard School instructor and Verbier resort manager, Tom Waddington, who shares with us some tried and tested top tips for keeping those legs fresh from first lifts to last…
1. Start Now
Your next ski trip may feel like miles away but professional trainers recommend that you start your fitness routine six weeks beforehand. Get started well in advance so that you can start slowly and gradually increase the level. That said, ANY amount of prep is better than none. So even if you’re one week out from your next ski trip, you can still make some gains!
2. Get your squat on
Or really, any type of leg workout! Legs are the powerhouse of skiing and you use all of your lower body muscles on the slopes, hence why it’s super important that they are strong.
Luckily, it’s easy enough to strengthen everything from your quads to your calves with some tried and tested workouts. We do these workouts not only before the season, but throughout the winter as well.
We recommend sets and repetitions of the following as often as possible:
• Squat jumps
• Alternating lunges
• Wall sits
Start with a low number of repetitions and as you become stronger, up the number gradually!
3. Next up: Build your core
Your core does a lot more on the hill than you realise. A strong core helps support your lower back, can improve your stance and gives you stability when skiing. How to strengthen it? Do exercises that isolate your core. We recommend:
• Planks and side planks - 8-12 reps on each side, trying to increase the time spent in the position gradually over time.
• Stability ball crunches- Take this one slowly at first as it takes some getting used to!
• Sit-ups - Start by doing 10 sit ups followed by 10 seconds rest and repeat this 3 times. Gradually increase the number.
• Superman - Lying face down, lift your arms and legs away from the floor. Keeping them straight, hold for up to 30 seconds. Repeat!
• Back extensions - Lie on your back. As you exhale, contract your abdominal muscles to push the small of your back flat to the floor. Hold for 5-10 seconds, rest for 10 and then repeat!
4. Build up your stamina
The thinner air at higher altitudes has less oxygen, which makes it more difficult to pull in air to get oxygen to where it needs to be. ‘Science’ lesson aside, this means that you’ll find yourself breathing more heavily than you do on flat terrain. The best way to prepare for this added level of difficulty is to focus on cardio to build up your stamina. Get your heart rate up with the following activities:
• Running - 4 minutes fast, 4 minutes recovery. Repeat 4 times. Build up the distance gradually.
• Swimming - Try sprint pyramid sets: 25m, 50m, 75m, 100m, 200m and back down to 25m. Repeat at least 3 times trying to beat your time! You can also try upping the distance and decreasing the rest time if you fancy a challenge!
• Cycling - Maximum effort pedal for 60 seconds, easy pedal for 30 seconds. Repeat 4 times and pedal easy for 5 minutes. Repeat this at least 5 times!
These are all great ways to improve cardio. We recommend doing intervals, (short burst of high-intensity training, interspersed with rest periods) in your cardio training- just make sure you complete a thorough warm up before trying any of the above!
5. Stretch it out with a bit of yoga
Did you know, yoga can actually improve your skiing? We recommend giving it a go, even if you never have before, because there are so many benefits. A few of the key ones:
• Improved flexibility
• Helps prevent injury
• Improved coordination
• Core strengthening
It’s also great to intersperse a low-impact workout, such as yoga, in between your higher intensity sessions. This gives your muscles some time to repair and recover in between. Start with some YouTube videos or see if your local gym has some classes on offer.
6. Most importantly: Increase your workouts gradually
It’s important not to go into training too hard, particularly if you haven’t been doing much exercise recently. This is a recipe for injury and burnout. Gradually increase both the intensity and the duration to ensure you’re continuously improving. It will all be worth it when you can fully enjoy your days on the hill, with minimal thigh burn - Don't forget those all important rest days either!
Now that you’re well on the way to being ski fit, why not have a New Generation instructor show you around the hill?
New Generation Ski and Snowboard School is a community of snow sports enthusiasts, providing awesome ski and snowboard lessons. They’re based in 18 resorts across the French, Swiss and Austrian Alps, and have been helping people make the most of their ski adventures for over 20 years.