How To Get Your Body Ready For Ski Season
How To Get Your Body Ready For Ski Season

How To Get Your Body Ready For Ski Season


Ask any pro athlete. Pre-season training matters. Whether you’re skiing or snowboarding this year, here’s what three experts recommend to ensure peak performance…

Build Endurance

“A large part of getting your body ready for a ski trip is building endurance. You want to condition your body so you can easily ski run after run without tiring. Getting the balance right between strength and cardio training is important. Cardio will give you stamina, while focused strength training will develop power in your quads, glutes and hamstrings, the muscle groups that get worked the most when skiing. Aim for two strength sessions per week and one or two cardio sessions. The cross trainer is a great way to get your cardio in as it mimics skiing. Every week, increase resistance on the machine – you should feel the desire to stop because your legs are burning, rather than your lungs are out of breath. When it comes to strength, aim for higher reps – for example, 15-25 squats rather than 8-10. Walking lunges are also great – aim for 15-25 reps, adding in a slow twist on each lunge to the side of the forward leg, to develop balance.” – Michael Fatica, consultant osteopath 


Work On Your Core

“Your core is of vital importance when skiing because it’ll act as a strong anchor for your leg muscles. Movements like abdominal rotations, side bends and side planks are a great place to start, and can be built up to lunges, split squats and single-leg glute bridges. Using weights or resistance bands on the latter three exercises will further challenge your core and develop the kind of stability that’ll be essential as you wind your way down the slopes. When it comes to core work, aim for higher reps – ideally 15-25 reps – and three sets of each exercise.” – Michael  


Plan Your Gym Sessions

“Making a few tweaks to your existing gym routine will condition you for the slopes. Add some short, sharp, interval-based efforts towards the end of your normal workout to emulate the intensity of skiing down a steep run, and slot in a few separate sessions of low-level cardio work to build a solid foundation and increase endurance – a steady jog or easy bike is great. Plyometric work will also build dynamic power and prepare your body for impact around the ankles, knees and hips. Include hurdle jumps, single-leg lateral jumps and box step downs. It’s also worth finding a gym near you that has a Versaclimber, which targets your upper and lower body simultaneously to build the kind of strength you’ll need to generate propulsion and build ski-ready endurance.” – Tom Cheeseman, specialist performance fitness & wellbeing PT 


Always Warm Up

“When you’re out in the mountains, your body is more at risk of injury in the mornings, before it has had a chance to warm up. Before you head out, take ten minutes to activate your core and legs. Start with bodyweight hip hinges to activate the glutes and hamstrings, followed by squats to fire up the quads and knees, then finish with some reverse lunges, which are great for the knees. Try ten reps of each in quick succession. Side planks are great to fire up the core – aim for ten reps each side.” – Michael


Don’t Forget About Smaller Muscles

“While a strong lower body is crucial, having good upper body strength will also help with balance and stability, especially when skiing on more challenging terrain. Don’t forget about your calves, either. Strong calves help with control and responsiveness, especially when making precise movements on skis. Ankle strength is also important – your ankles will help you maintain balance and control when wearing ski boots. Incorporate balance exercises on one leg, calf raises and ankle circles into your routine.” – Dr Gary Bartlett, GP & team GB snowboarder 


Have An SOS Plan

“Pain can often strike when least expected on the mountain, and when you’re least prepared for it. If you suddenly feel a twinge or find yourself in pain, avoid stopping completely as the cold weather will immediately cause pain to stiffen. Instead, back off the intensity, find a less steep slope and move slowly to the bottom of the run. Where the back and lower body muscles are concerned, try to stand up tall with good posture if your back is sore – this will take pressure off your spinal discs and prevent pain from getting worse.” – Michael 


Take It Easy On The Second Day

“The morning of the second day of a ski trip is always the biggest shock to the body. Even if you are physically well prepared, often the new stimulus of a day on slopes (perhaps with some après activities mixed in) will torch your body, causing aches and pains throughout the body. On your second morning, make an extra effort to do a full-body warm-up, starting with static stretching on major muscle groups, especially the hamstrings and glutes, before moving on to more dynamic movements such as cat cow, thoracic rotations and leg swings.” – Tom 


See A Physio 

“If you have a pre-existing back injury, consider booking in for an MOT with a physio before you head off. The stronger you are before you leave, the smaller your risk of injury. Winter sports like skiing and snowboarding place immense pressure on the back and lower-body muscle groups that support the spine, such as the glutes and hamstrings. As a result, there are many back health risks associated with these sports – think muscle strains in the lower back, whiplash from falls or collisions, and inflammation in the small joints on the back of the spine, with the latter particularly common among snowboarders due to the side-on posture they need to adopt.” – Michael 


Stretch It Out

“Skiing puts huge amounts of pressure on the legs, thighs and lower back, which simply aren’t conditioned to deal with the duration often spent on the slopes. Stretching at the end of the day will keep muscles in good condition. If you struggle with back pain, try lying over a rolled-up towel for five minutes to restore the natural arch in your lower back – this will counteract the constant ‘forward bent’ position skiing requires and is a great way to decompress your back.” – Michael  


Think About Recovery

“If your hotel has a spa, hunt down a cold-water plunge, which is a great way to reduce inflammation after a day on the slopes. Start slowly, aiming for a one or two-minute plunge. For added benefits, head to the sauna immediately afterwards to improve blood flow. Sleep is the most underrated recovery tool, which also requires minimal effort and cost. However, the quality of sleep is hugely affected by alcohol and excess often results in poor recovery, which will have a domino effect on the next day of skiing. Enjoy yourself – but perhaps think twice about ordering another round.” – Tom

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