Ski Fitness: What Is The Right Training For Your Ski Level?
Advice and videos, tailored to your ability level, for ski fitness training you should be doing before your trip.
Published on Mon 04 Mar, 2019
Ski Fitness By Ski Level
You can’t really do too much ski fitness training in preparation for a ski holiday.
Every holidaymaker's skiing would be helped if they were doing the kind of ski fitness programmes world cup skiers do for months before hitting the slopes, however we know many hours of pro-level workouts aren’t necessarily appropriate for all of us. These sections highlight the minimum amount of ski fitness you should think about doing in relation to the intensity of skiing you are likely to be doing at beginner, intermediate and advanced level.
Once you have done your fitness preparation off the slopes, it's time to enlist the help of a qualified ski instructor through Ongosa. We listen to your requirements, then recommend and book the best ski lessons for you, based on your needs.
Ski Fitness for Beginner Skiers
The demands on those learning how to ski for the first time can be great if their ski muscles have never been worked before, so there is an argument that beginners need to do the most specific ski fitness of any level. However being realistic, most beginners are going primarily for the holiday and won’t give too much thought to the fact that they are taking up a sport. You are unlikely to devote an 8 week pre-season training programme to an activity which you aren’t even sure if you enjoy yet.
Taking the stairs instead of the lift for the weeks leading up to a trip is a good start, but even better if beginners can do these exercises at home to get their bodies used to moving in the ways they will need to when skiing. This is crucial for injury prevention, as getting injured at beginner stage can turn someone off skiing who may otherwise have gone back many times.
Watch this helpful US Ski Team video showing 5 exercises you can do at home without equipment. These will ensure that these muscles aren’t being used for the very first time when you first put skis on.
Team GB freestyle skier Rowan Cheshire has many useful workout videos on her Youtube channel and Instagram, often tailored to skiing. These plyometric exercises (which essentially means training the explosive expanding and contracting actions of muscles) will help equip your body for the movements you perform when skiing, and the pressures certain muscle groups will be under on the mountain.
For anyone who has been skiing before and knows that they will be doing a full week of piste bashing, the preparation should definitely be quite structured.
Even if you are fit and a daily gym user, you need to tailor your gym work to be ski specific, as certain muscle groups are used far more in skiing than they may be used to in your regular exercise routines. No matter how talented a skier you were last season, chances are you won’t have done it for at least 8 months, and you will need some re-conditioning.
Firstly, as you will be exercising at altitude, you will need cardiovascular fitness levels above what is required to do that level of exercise at ground level. So it is a good idea to increase the amount of cardio you do to begin with. Running is a good start, however we recommend hill running rather than treadmill running, as this works the leg muscles in ways that more closely replicates the pressures they will be under when skiing. Running in sprints is more similar to skiing than distance running, as it simulates tearing down a piste for 2 minutes, then resting whilst sitting on the lift, then doing it again.
This video gives a good run down of 10 exercises to help condition your body for skiing.
Spinning on exercise bikes is also good for building cardiovascular strength whilst simultaneously giving resistance training to the legs.
Gym work will help to strengthen the relevant muscle groups and make you a stronger and better skier. The internet is full of work out sessions and plans for skiing, here are some helpful pieces you can use to base your exercise around. For most skiers, a conditioning workout such as these will be of more benefit than a mass/strength gaining exercise like simply power squatting for an hour.
This video from pro skier and trainer Crystal Wright gives clear explanations of 7 exercises you can try in the gym or at home.
Ski Fitness for Advanced Skiers
There is plenty of content from pro skiers on the internet and Instagram showing exactly the workouts they do to increase ski fitness. There are great gym sessions and tips out there which can help you build muscle months in advance of a ski trip. Once you have refined your technique, you can still improve by training your body in the off-season, to increase your speed and power for when you get to the mountains.
One of the athletes who is most open with their workout regimes is Lindsay Vonn. See how the best of all time trained for the 2018 Winter Olympics here.
Multiple Olympic gold medalist Axsel Lund Svindal does this session 3 or 4 times a week, which has pretty much everything you need to strengthen all the right areas for skiing. Watch the video as he talks you through all the key exercises he uses to stay at the top of the game.