If you’re planning to hit the slopes this winter, there’s still time to improve your ski fitness, so you get the most out of your holiday and reduce the risk of injury. As a personal trainer in London, I’ve helped several clients get fit and strong for their ski holiday.
You need to a programme which works on your muscle strength, muscular endurance, core strength, flexibility, cardiovascular fitness, balance and agility.
Muscular strength & endurance
You need to focus in particular on your thigh muscles, particularly your quads, the muscles at the front of your thighs, but also your glutes (your bum muscles).
I recommend a series of squats, pulsing mini-squats, squat-jumps, low squat-jump twists, lunges, walking lunges, and single-leg squats. This will build strength and endurance, and protect your knee joints as you ski down the slopes.
You need a strong core to generate power safely. Everything starts with an engaged core, otherwise you risk injury, particularly to your lower back.
I’ll take you through a range of core strength exercises, such as the plank (and dynamic variations of the plank), mountain-climbers, Russian twists (a tough exercise to perform correctly without being coached in the right technique), clam-crunches, oblique crunches, and dorsal raises for the lower back.
If you don’t have a good base of cardio fitness (strong heart and lungs) you’ll fatigue quickly on the slopes, and lose concentration, which makes you vulnerable to injury from falls and collisions. 20-30 minutes cardio, three times a week, is ample to get you fit. You can use the rowing machine, cross-trainer, exercise bike, or run outside. Swimming is great too.
Balance & agility
I’ll take you through a range of exercises to boost your balance and agility, starting with standing on one leg and seeing how long you can maintain your balance. Then we’ll progress to lateral jumps (side to side), with a consistent and controlled range of movement, and forward/backward jumps. Then we’ll progress to single-leg lateral hops, and forward/back hops. If you have a BOSU ball, there’s lots we can do with this, to improve your balance.
At the end of each workout, I recommend 10 minutes stretching, to increase flexibility in all your leg muscles: your calves, hamstrings, quads, and glutes (particularly the deep glute muscle: the piriformis). If you have a tight ITB (iliotibial band), the long ligament which runs down the outside of your leg from your pelvis to your knee, we’ll do a few minutes of foam rolling.
Ideally you should have 2 months of ski fitness training to get you ready for the slopes, but if you train diligently, you can make good progress in 1 month.
Dominic Londesborough is a personal trainer in London with 12 years’ experience.