5 key areas to work on Ski fitness
We’ve switched the heating on and started to wear woolly jumpers so it must be time to get prepared for that ski holiday. There are a few key tips to work on before you hit the slopes
1. Body Alignment
Your weight should be balanced over the centre of your skis. Most people sit down too much and this can put excessive strain through the thigh muscles and knees moving the weight into the back of the skis, causing loss of control.
So to work on alignment at home go into your ‘ski position’ bend your knees (if you can look in a mirror check that middle of knee cap is aligned with 2nd/3rd toe). Stand up again and this time as you bend your knees make sure the weight is coming forwards, as if you are going to tip over. When skiing you should bring your body weight over the front of your ski boots. By balancing your weight forwards from your core you are ensuring the pressure is coming through the centre and front of the skis, giving you maximum control and ability to turn the skis smoothly – especially for big carving turns.
In snowboarding good core strength is required for rotational control of the trunk. A good exercise to help improve rotational core control is a Palloff press. (See recommended exercises here: )
2. Strength and power
The front thigh muscle and your bottom muscles do the majority of work when you ski. You can train them with exercises like split squats, lunges, step-ups, deep squats and cycling. Try not to use wall squats, which can translate into skiing with weight on the heels.
The front thigh muscles are really important to strengthen as they straighten the knee, but also control it from a straight position into a bent position. This is important in skiing as the majority of the time is spent with the knees bent and absorbing impact. This slow release is called eccentric strengthening and is a fundamental part of ski training. Step-downs off a step are a perfect way of working your quads eccentrically – try to make sure your knee does not wobble across your midline.
The next important area to strengthen is the outside butt area. Skiing relies heavily on these muscles. Gluteus Medius exercises are good for targeting this area. (See recommended exercises here: )
Whereas beginners may spend more time in a relatively flexed position, more advanced skiers and boarders need to be able to absorb load and impact over bumps, jumps and tricky terrain. This means there is repeated overloading and stretching of the muscles in the leg, and more ‘spring’ is required. To prepare for this, think about doing more explosive or plyometric training.
This is your body’s positional sense and is particularly important for skiing in bad visibility. It’s also one of the best preventative measures when it comes to injury. Stand on one leg with your eyes closed for two minutes twice a day. Then add some small movements while you do it, such as little knee bends or brushing your teeth. Make sure you do this safely in a corner of a room or where your hands can find support on a surface.
4. Cardiovascular fitness
Good levels of cardiovascular fitness in skiing will help you meet the demands of challenging terrain and steep slopes more confidently without tiring. Try cycling or a step machine to work some of the muscles used in skiing. Remember to build up slowly and incrementally.
It’s useful to stretch the calf muscles and hips. flexors Here are some examples of stretches that may be beneficial after skiing or exercise. (See recommended exercises here: )