Be Prepared for Your Skiing Holiday, Fitness for the Slopes

Preparation for Ski HolidayNow that summer has faded away and the autumn mists have started to swirl, you may find the nip in the air is turning your thoughts towards your winter skiing holiday. Whether you have never skied before or are a regular, if you forgo muscle conditioning and fitness, after the first gentle run down the slopes, your ankles will feel weak, and your legs will begin to shimmy like jelly and quite likely, you are wondering where you can find a new pair of knees before the next morning.

Like starting a diet on Mondays, getting fit for skiing often is put off in busy lives especially as the temptations of the festive season mean sitting by an open fire with a glass of mulled wine is more appealing than going to the gym.

Do think of the benefits of getting fit for skiing, it is far better to start the ski season with your muscles toned, body balanced and core strengthened.

Nobody wants to spend his or her holiday with sore and strained muscles in pain. A little effort now before your ski trip will not only ensure you ski effortlessly and suffer less fatigue but will also help with injury prevention.

Skiing is a recreation that gives so much enjoyment to everyone who participates, but the huge demands placed on the body daily throughout a ski trip can be a stretch too far if your basic fitness levels are low. By following a muscle and movement specific exercise programme at your local gym, you can forget about the aches and pains and get on with enjoying the exhilaration of skiing down a mountain run, whatever your level of expertise.

If you are a regular horse rider, you have an advantage, as the downhill ski position is very similar to the position when seated on horseback and uses the same muscle groups. Many top equestrian athletes are also top class skiers.

There are several areas to concentrate on to get yourself ski fit.

Aerobic Fitness
The cardiovascular system needs to build fitness and this is achieved by endurance type workouts over the course of a few weeks for thirty to sixty minutes, three times a week. Any activity that raises heart rate and produces sweat that you enjoy is ideal. Running, rowing, cycling, swimming, elliptical and stair climbing machines are all good activities to achieve your aerobic fitness.

Strength training
Two to three times a week along with your aerobic workouts will give you muscle strength needed for the slopes. Leg strength is vital, exercises should include the knees, and ankles as these joints are under pressure skiing. The upper body muscle groups of chest, shoulders, and back should be worked and there are plenty of “ski specific” exercises to perform.

For legs, choose front and side lunges, squats, hamstring curls, and leg presses. For upper body free weights are better for balance and co-ordination but gym machines can be used too. It is vital to strengthen core muscles and the abdominals, obliques, and low back muscles need to be worked on as well.

To improve flexibility, target the major muscle groups such as hamstrings, quadriceps, hip flexors, calves, gluteals, and trunk. Aim to perform stretching exercises after a gentle warm up. Slow, long controlled stretching repetitions held for twenty to thirty seconds, two or three times for each muscle group will be sufficient to improve flexibility.

Balance and Agility
Staying upright is something that all skiers need to do! Exercises to enhance the connection between your brain and muscles will help your balance control when things get hairy on the slopes. Good exercises revolve around apparatus such as balance boards, physio balls, ski simulators, and agility ladders.

Plyometrics simply means exercises which include explosive jumping and bounding with controlled landings and powerful take offs. Basic strength needs to be built up before attempting this type of exercise. You will find reaction time and co-ordination improves. Scissor kicks, box jumps, and hurdle jumps are a small example of different types of plyometric exercises.

Allow yourself a few weeks of fitness exercises for maximum results. Your local gym will be able to devise a programme for you or may have a pre-ski workout that incorporates all elements of these essentials. You can then get on with the job of swishing down the slopes by day and enjoying the après-ski by night.