There’s no two ways about it: the fitter you are, the longer you’ll be able to ski and the less likely you will be to hurt yourself.
A lot of people go skiing as a family holiday and struggle to keep up with the kids. It’s not that the children are necessarily better skiers, it’s that they’re simply more flexible and mobile than someone who might spend at least eight hours a day at a desk.
Day one usually isn’t usually an issue, but by day two the ache sets in and after that you start to regret booking a whole week on the slopes. If you don’t want to waste your holiday, you need to prepare with a training programme which is designed specifically for skiing.
Even if you consider yourself fit, you can still have tightness and weaknesses which can hold back your skiing performance and safety.
How to tell if you’re fit enough to ski
The key areas to train if you want to ski well and ski safely are your hips, your core and your legs.
You need to be able to rotate your upper body independently of your lower body through your hips and your waist. A low degree of rotation or separation means that when your skis turn, you shoulders will as well. This reduction of your mobility increases the risk that you’re going to pull something.
It’s easy to tell if your hips aren’t flexible enough. If, when standing, you can’t look over your shoulder both ways without turning your hips, then you’re not flexible enough to be able to ski properly.
All this twisting and turning also means you need to have a strong core, which will also help you absorb force when bouncing over bumpy terrain – not unlike suspension in a car.
Crunches and planks are a simple way to increase your abdominal strength, while rotational and throwing exercises with a kettle bell can improve your flexibility and separation between hips and shoulders.
As for your legs, you need to be able to maintain form both dynamically and statically to be able to handle both going over bumps and to hold a skiing stance for extended periods.
To gauge your lower body fitness, you should be able to comfortably perform sets of squats and lunges without your knees drifting from the mid-line. You also need to be able to hold a squat and a lunge for around a minute and a half to simulate a skiing stance.
If your knees drift outwards during exercise, they’ll do the same when you’re skiing, leading to a fall or, worse, an ACL tear.
I train top ski instructors, and I can train you as well
I always begin with a full body dynamic stretching programme to identify areas where you’re stiff and your movement is limited.
We can then work on a programme of exercises which address these limitations to get you skiing fit. Every programme has to be individualised to your unique set of strengths, weaknesses and your injury history, as well as the level of skiing performance you want to achieve.
Weakness and stiffness aren’t the only problems which reveal themselves during the programme. Just as common are postural misalignments in the hips and spine which can prevent you from even achieving a basic skiing stance, let alone the challenges of skiing itself.
A correct skiing stance keeps knees and hips slightly bent, knees forward and spine straight. This keeps your centre of mass in front of your body to build momentum downhill while giving you enough range of movement to twist and turn and absorb bumps.
But if your neck and shoulders slope forward or your pelvic tilt is out of line, it can be impossible to hold a skiing stance naturally. Ironing out these postural problems is just as important as building your strength and flexibility.
Regardless of what we’re addressing, my skiing fitness programme is always highly dynamic with a focus on balance and stability. At the end, you won’t just be skiing fit, you’ll be far more fit and flexible in general.
To book your skiing fitness programme, get in touch with the clinic now at firstname.lastname@example.org or 0207 937 1628
BSc (Hons) Degree in Sports Science and Biology
Functional Trainer, AAPI Pilates Instructor, Ski instructor