Get Fit for the Slopes
As the mornings get crisper and the dark evenings draw in, thereâ€™s just one thought on my mind. Skiing. How many trips can I fit in, where will they be and can I convince myself that I do, in fact, need that shiny new pair of skis.
In all this excitement itâ€™s easy to forget that skiing is a sport, and quite a demanding one at that. It therefore follows that your body needs a little preparation and TLC before you start throwing it off cliffs into deep powder and expecting it to be able to dodge the trees.
Even cruising round the blues can cause sprains and strains if youâ€™re not in good physical shape. Being from the UKâ€™s big smoke, Iâ€™ve noticed many gyms in London that offer personalized ski fitness programmes, and Iâ€™m sure other cities have the same offering. But if you want to go it alone, here are my top tips for conditioning your body so as to make the most your time in snowland.
- Warm up: this as important in your training as it is in the mornings before hitting the slopes. Jog lightly on the spot for 5-10 minutes to warm your muscles, before performing some light stretches. This will prepare your body for what youâ€™re about to do to it, helping to prevent injury.
- Build up your strength. That burning muscle feeling as you fly down the mountain can be pleasant. But not if itâ€™s within 5 minutes of hitting your first warm up run. In your strength training you need to concentrate your efforts on your whole body, not just your legs, as all of your muscles play a part in helping you to balance, and regain balance after that surprise ice patch. If you have a gym membership, ask an instructor to introduce some exercises to build core strength and leg muscle (focusing on the quadriceps).
- Get your heart rate up: Skiing may look like a relaxing activity, but if you want to get the most out of your time on the slopes, you need to build up your overall cardiovascular fitness. Biking is a great choice of sport, as, not only is it effective aerobic exercise, but it also works your thigh and core muscles. Running, the ever-publicised cardio workout, is also a good for building up overall fitness, but be careful here, road running puts a lot of pressure on your knees, and youâ€™ll need them for carving up the pistes.
- Work on flexibility: Increased flexibility will both help you react to changes in terrain and direction, and decrease the risk of injury if you do take a tumble. In addition to gentle stretches before and after exercise, yoga is a great way to both increase flexibility and build core strength.
Aim to begin training in these 4 areas at least 6 weeks before you head up the hill and you should be ready to make the most of your ski holiday. Vin chaud and cheese fondue anyone?
2 thoughts on “Get Fit for the Slopes”
Yes it’s easy to forget – and the effects of altitude on your body only make it more exerting. Especially if, like me, you’re accustomed to living at sea level!
Jennie, I agree that it’s easy to forget that downhill skiing is actually quite taxing from a physical standpoint. I grew up skiing several days per week and didn’t think much of it back then. Now that I’m older, I notice that downhill skiing is actually quite exerting.