It is easy to forget just how physical a whole day's skiing can be. Even with a lengthy lunch stop, an average day on the slopes will deliver between 4 and 6 hours of sustained physical activity. Of course the ski lifts give you a chance to recover, but lactic acid build up will make your legs feel very heavy, and you want to build up your stamina so that you still have energy for the all-important après-ski!
To improve your cardiovascular fitness, try and do aerobic sessions of 20 minutes to 1 hour at least three times a week. Aerobic activity includes any exercise which raises your heart rate, such as cycling or running.
During these sessions, you should be working at around 50-60% of your max heart rate. A quick way of estimating your max heart rate without doing a test is 220 minus your age. If you cannot take your heart rate then another good rule of thumb is that you should be able to just about hold a conversation with whoever you are training with.
You will also need to work on your strength, flexibility and endurance. Some exercises that can help include:
1. Plank. A strong core is the foundation of a fit, strong body. You use your core muscles around your lower back and abs a lot more than you would think when skiing, especially when you are turning or taking on more technical terrain.
Lie flat on the floor.
Resting your elbows and forearms on the floor, push up your hips and rest only on your elbows and toes (initially you may need to put your knees on the floor).
Hold the position for 60 seconds.
Top tip: Do not let your hips dip or stick your bottom in the air: your body should form a relatively straight line.
2. Lunges are great not only for strength but for balance too.
Start with your feet together.
Step one leg forward and bend down so the front leg forms a right angle. Your back leg should be almost touching the floor. Step back and then swap legs.
Try to do 20 repetitions four times with a short rest in between each set.
Top tip: Keep your upper body straight, with your shoulders back and relaxed and chin up. Try to keep your core engaged at all times.
3. Squats. Your thighs (quads) are probably the hardest working muscles when you are skiing. Squats are one of the best, not to mention easiest ways of building strength in your legs.
Stand with your legs shoulder width apart.
Push your hips back.
Bend your knees until your thighs are parallel to the floor.
If your knees are in front of your toes, you are doing it wrong – push those hips back a little more to remedy this.
Stand back up and repeat.
Try to do three to four sets of 20, giving yourself a 60-second rest between sets.
Top tip: If you want to make this a little harder, hold a weight in each hand.
Don’t forget that our Health Coaches are on hand to help you to devise the perfect pre-ski fitness programme.