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Get ski fit! Do it now!

We all know what a dangerous sport skiing is, don’t we (snowboarding isn’t as they spend most of the time sitting down just in front of where you get off the lift, adjusting their bindings. Haemorrhoids is the danger here)?

There’s no doubt that most of us have had a nasty fall at least once and some have experienced much worse, but according to Jonathan Bell, injuries only occur 2 to 3 per 1000 skier days. I’m due another 4 soon.

Preparing your body for winter is key. You’ll not only have a much better time out on the mountain, but you’ll also significantly improve your overall fitness too. Not to mention reducing the chance of injury.

A comprehensive conditioning regime consists of more than just a few squats, but that doesn’t mean you need to spend hours in the gym every day in the autumn. Most of us opt to spend a week in the mountains, which requires a good base level of fitness but also asks a lot of muscle groups that are not usually deployed in everyday life. Medical professionals recommend that you start to condition your body using ski-specific exercises at least 6 weeks before your winter holiday, fortunately, many of the best exercises for skiing can be done from the comfort of your own home.

Naturally, lifting a full glass from table to lips as many times as possible is the principal exercise for the anterior and posterior compartments of the arm, but there are other exercises you should consider ensuring you arrive in a condition to benefit for this.

It’s easy to forget just how physical a whole days skiing can be. Even with a lengthy lunch stop (of course) an average day on the slopes will deliver between 4 and 6 hours of sustained physical activity. The ski lifts give you a chance to recover (especially when you have to wait for the snowboarders to move at the top), but the higher the altitude the longer that will take. And you do need to recover, because skiing hard works you at an intensity that can only be sustained for a couple of minutes before the legs start to burn with the build-up of lactic acid.

If you really want to ski longer, harder and safer next winter, you will need to create a ski fitness programme that includes:

  • Endurance
  • Strength
  • Flexibility

To improve your cardiovascular fitness, you will need to try and do aerobic sessions of 20 minutes to 1 hour at least three times a week. Aerobic activity includes any exercise which raises your heart rate, such as cycling or running.

During these sessions, you should be working at around 50-60% of your max heart rate. A quick way of estimating your max heart rate without doing a test is 220 minus your age. If you cannot take your heart rate then another good rule of thumb is that you should be able to just about hold a conversation with whoever you are training with (I know several people for who this would be difficult, training or not).

Try and find a way of training that you enjoy and you will be more likely to stick with it.

Cycling is the favoured method of aerobic training for World Cup skiers and is a great way to replicate the fitness needed for skiing.

Cross-trainers provide a way of breaking up a big endurance session with a variety of exercises. If you can get access to one, then the Skier’s Edge provides the best ski specific fitness workout, as it is the only machine that works in a lateral plain.

Ice Skating, rollerblading or rollerskiing are great ways to train endurance for skiing as they require similar levels of balance/coordination and lateral movement.

Running is great for weight loss and can deliver a very high-end aerobic workout. The downside is that it is high impact and can be hard on skiers’ knees

Swimming is not a great way to train for skiing as it concentrates too much on the upper body, although is a good way to vary a programme.

Only once you have reached a good level of fitness for your skiing (it will take about 6 weeks to feel the effects) you can also consider anaerobic exercises where you work in short blasts, such as circuit training – a great way to get even fitter before you hit the slopes.

If you start now, you’ll be in great shape for skiing when you arrive in La Tania. Just don’tggemen bust your ACL as you get off the Dou des Lanches chairlift before your first proper run. We’ve had two guests do that (mind you, they had done 500 hours skiing each, so nobody was surprised).


With acknowledgements to the Ski Club of Great Britain. The full article can be found here.

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