No ski trip booked yet? No problem. Here’s how to stay ski fit for when the time is right...
Most of us are holding off booking this seasons mountain pilgrimage. As a result, your ‘get-fit-for-ski-trip’ countdown may have no start date and what’s more, if you book a last-minute mission, you’ll want to make it count! Personal trainer, BASI Trainer and SunGod Ambassador Tom Waddington provides his pro tips for maintaining your ski-fitness all winter long, to ensure you’re ready to hit the slopes at any-time. The best part is, no gym is required!
1. Use the pros
My first piece of advice is to say that if any of what I am about to advise is new territory, do consult a personal trainer! There are loads of great PTs out there and even though the gyms aren't open, many are offering both private and outdoor sessions and digital consultations. Ask around for some word of mouth recommendations as these are always best!
2. Train sustainably
Lots of people have a tendency to rush pre-holiday fitness programmes. However, going hard too soon can lead to increased risk of injury and is generally not enjoyable! In addition to this, there is no time to focus on strength development which is the key element in good snowsports performance. By following a well-structured routine that fits into your daily life you’re less likely to become injured, more likely to enjoy it, so more likely to succeed!
3. Make your strength training count
Aerobic exercise is of course fundamental to a balanced sustainable programme, but it’s not all about running as many kms as you can before your ski trip. Strength plays a massive role in progressing your technique and preventing injury. Strength is a precursor to power and being stronger will really help your performance in the powder! I have listed some examples of some snowsports specific strength exercises below, the list is endless but hopefully these examples will spark your imagination:
Core strength exercises: Plank variations, T spine rotation, med ball wall throws, snow shovels.
Lower body strength exercises: Pistol squats, glute steps, 3D foot clocks, nordics.
For any strength exercise, work to a place where you feel challenged but not overwhelmed. Vary the duration, range of motion, tempo and load according to your own body. Continually assess and reassess your performance and vary the programme accordingly.
4. Don’t overlook the importance of mobility
Snowsports involve a lot of coordination and multidirectional movement, transferring weight from one foot to the other. A balanced ski fitness programme should include exercises to encourage mobility and unilateral (1 leg focused) work. I have listed some example exercises below which will target mobility and balance:
Balance & mobility exercises: Slacklining, ladder work, Bosu ball, stair training, sprinting and jumping cone work.
5. Quality over quantity
Don’t become a robot performing the same routine every time! Understand how and why exercises work and how you can improve. Ensure that you’re working with your body and listening to what it’s telling you. Is one side tighter than the other? It is important to recognise that we humans are often ‘one side dominant’ so we must pay attention to weaknesses and quality of movement on both sides. Finally, proper form means we’re working the right muscles and reducing injury risk.
6. Incorporate aerobic and anaerobic work
If we want to tax our energy systems more, then we can pick more simple exercises and look at varying the intensity with a mix of short hard bursts and small recovery periods. There are so many different variations of this, I personally like Tabata intervals (20 secs of maximum effort work with 10 secs rest for 8 sets). The main thing is, that you have intensity over your intervals which directly translates to blasting the piste at high intensity, skiing a mogul run or negotiating a couloir. In addition to this, running and sprint sessions will also help build your aerobic and anaerobic capacity.
7. Measure your progress
No matter the work out, measure and record each one so that you can progress. For example, if you start with a simple body weight lunge you can add increasing amounts of weight as this becomes easier. The same goes for your running and interval times, try to keep a record using an app or sports watch. Measuring progress is a great way to stay motivated and promote sustainable change in your body.
8. Remember your why
Visualise yourself having a great day on the slopes, keeping up with your friends and showing them how much you have improved since the last trip because that’s what it’s all about. Whatever your reason, don’t loose sight of it or it will all seem pointless! Above all, design a weekly program that you can stick to - make it fun and include things you enjoy!
No matter when we head out on our ski adventures this year, it’s good to know that fitness won’t get in the way. With the right approach, it’s possible to sustain ski fitness throughout winter. And when the time comes, we’ll be ready to slash through the powder from first lifts to last, without a single complaint from the legs…