Fitness for the ski slopes

Fitness for the ski slopes

There are some fantastic ski fields available to you while living so close to continental Europe, but you will need to get fit to enjoy them to the full.

If you are like many people living in London who come from warmer climates, you must be dreading the winter that is now upon us. It is the time of year when you can plan a trip to somewhere warm to escape the cold temperatures or take advantage of the great ski fields available to you while living so close to continental Europe; but you need to get fit, writes Scott Miller.

Ski and Snowboard fitness
Of those that choose the snow over the sun, too many have an early end to their winter holiday as a result of injury, whether it involves a helicopter or something less serious like lower back pain. With this in mind, you should undertake some form of physical preparation before your next trip to the snow — after all, you wouldn’t take part in a 10 km fun run without training, so why spend four or more hours on the slopes without planning ahead.

Skiing and snowboarding are both demanding activities, especially for beginners, so your fitness levels need to be high. For this reason, you should conduct some specific conditioning to prepare your body for what the slopes will demand of you. This should involve a combination of cardiovascular work and resistance training.

For cardiovascular work, running, cycling, skipping and swimming are very beneficial. If you have access to them, the rowing machine and the cross-trainer are excellent equipment to use.

You will need to do a minimum of 20 minutes cardiovascular work at each session, with three to four sessions per week. This should rise to 45 minutes to one hour per session after a few weeks of training.

Resistance training should make use of weights and be total body training, covering the arms, shoulders, chest, back, core strength and legs. All of these muscle groups are used during your visit to the snow.

There are some excellent exercises that can be done at home that only require your body weight. Single-leg balancing and single-leg squats are ideal for strengthening the leg muscles and for stabilizing the knee joint.

You should look to introduce one-leg hops on the spot after a few weeks of training.

You will need to progress to this gradually and carefully. You will see dramatic improvements in your leg strength and force production as well as greater stability in your knee joints.

For the upper body, press-ups are still one of the best all-round strengthening exercises and these can be combined with tricep dips using a chair, stool or low table. Although few people enjoy doing them, abdominal muscle exercises are essential and can easily be done at home while you are lying on the floor watching television.

Flexibility is very important to relieve training soreness and decrease your chance of injury. Always perform a proper warm up and cool down, incorporating stretches into that routine.

Ask a member at your local gym about dynamic stretching as a warm up routine before you your strap on the skis or board. You will see the kids in the snow schools on the Alps warming up before they get on their skis or boards, so you won’t feel too strange.

But most of all, you will be able to ski and ride longer, harder and for consecutive days, and therefore make the most of your time in the mountains.

Any further questions or if you require health and fitness tips contact Scott at


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Europeski and snowboard