The Fitness Blog: Tips for first time skiers
Laura from Fit for the Slopes is a personal trainer and qualified ski instructor specialising in ski specific fitness training. She’ll be offering up expert advice on ski fitness throughout the season so that you can make the most of your time on the snow.
If you’re about to go skiing for the first time you can look forward to experiencing the satisfaction and glory of seeing real improvements on a daily basis. As your control improves and the slopes get steeper your progress will feel tangible.
However, something that goes hand in hand with this alien and occasionally counter-intuitive physical activity is an inevitable amount of slipping… sliding… and falling over – which can be exhausting. To have some trepidation is entirely natural, but what you can control, is how physically prepared you are.
Ensuring you have a good level of all round fitness will help keep you strong and safe on the mountain. Benefits include maximising the number of hours spent on the snow, improved confidence, minimized risk of injury and ensuring you remain alert enough to really enjoy your holiday, on and off the slope.
There are several components that combine together to make total ski fitness:
1) Cardiovascular fitness
A good level of cardiovascular fitness will help equip you for spending an average of between four and six hours on the mountain a day, at altitude where there is less oxygen (meaning your heart has to work harder to pump blood around the body), whilst concentrating for long periods of time with the acquisition of new skills.
If you are flexible with a good range of movement you’ll be less likely to pull a muscle should you be thrown off balance or fall awkwardly.
3) Proprioception (balance, co-ordination and agility)
Proprioception is the biggest indicator of injuries and is a vital component to skiing ability. If you were proficient in any single legged sports or sports requiring balance (eg skateboarding, rollerskating) when you were young you may have an advantage. However, no matter what your age, what’s great is that it can be dramatically improved with a bit of work.
As a benchmark, time your stork. Stand on one leg and shut your eyes: <10 seconds needs work, 10 – 20 seconds is better, 20 – 30 seconds is excellent. Practice this every week for four weeks before you go.
A single leg forward reach is also an excellent exercise since it combines quad and hamstring strength with balance.
Single leg forward reach
4) Muscular strength and endurance
Ensuring your muscles are conditioned, and keeping your training relevant to the task will help stave off muscle fatigue. There are several activities that you do more of as a beginner skier:
- Side stepping up hill
- Holding snow-plough position and beyond
- Sitting on button lifts
- Pushing yourself up from the ground
- Poling (using your poles to push yourself a long the flat)
The following four exercises are excellent for preparing you for these and your first week skiing:
i. Monster walk (Lateral steps with theraband)
Position band just above knees, knees soft, lean forward slightly at hips, take smooth, controlled sideways steps, keep tension in band.
Good for: Medial glutes
Make it harder: Increase tension in band / hold barbell across shoulders
ii. Static lunge
Keep feet in fixed position, bend back leg (squeeze glute) so knee is one inch off floor, return to standing, don’t let front knee come further forward than ankle.
Good for: quads, glutes
Make is harder: Hold weights / hold medicine ball above head
iii. Turkish get up
Follow pictures 1-8 then work back down, so you start and finish in prone position. Keep your eye on the weight so your hand doesn’t drift.
Good for: Everything!
Make it harder: Increase the weight, replace kettle bell with a barbell
iv. Hindu press up
Start with elbows flat on the floor, palms down, shoulder distance apart. Swoop forward and down to plank position, push back up.
Good for: Triceps, shoulders, core
Make it harder: Lift one leg
To take your training even further try weighted squats, deadlifts, lots of anti-rotation core work and plank variations – Be strong, Ski strong!
Laura May Williams from Fit for the Slopes is a personal trainer and qualified ski instructor specialising in ski specific fitness training. She offers one to one personal training (London based) and online programmes. See www.fitfortheslopes.com for further information.