To get the most out of your ski vacation, you’ll want to be in shape. First, you don’t want to be huffing and puffing on your first run. Second, and most important, you want to avoid sustaining an injury of any kind. Lastly, you want to look good in that ski gear, right? If you need to tone up a little before hitting the slopes this season, here are a few tips for getting in shape for skiing or snowboarding.
The great thing about skiing and snowboarding is that you don’t need six-pack abs to be good at it. A general level of cardiovascular and physical fitness will suffice. In terms of taking a skiing vacation, you’ll want to exercise specific muscles leading up to your trip. Skiing and snowboarding can be very demanding and use muscles that don’t get heavy use in everyday life. Setting aside some time for the gym in the weeks leading up to a ski vacation can help get your body prepared for a few days of skiing.
At the gym, you’ll want to focus on a few key areas in the weeks leading up to your trip. Of course, the first is legs. Don’t skip leg day if you want to enjoy your time on the slopes. Skiing can tire your legs out quickly if you don’t build some muscle and stamina. The treadmill, exercise bike or elliptical machine is an easy place to start at the gym to build leg strength. Specific exercises for quads, glutes and hamstrings is a good idea as well.
Your thigh muscles (called “quads”) will get quite the workout when your skiing, so it’s best to build them up before you go. You will use your squats to handle moguls and other bumps, change direction and make turns on the mountain. One of the best ways to build up your quads is to do squat exercises. Here are a couple of the more popular squats:
It is recommended you start with light weight exercises, building up to your own body weight. Start with weight light enough that you can do multiple repetitions and maintain good form and posture. Aim for 20 reps at one weight, then move up to the next when you feel comfortable. From there, continue lifting heavier weight until you reach your goals. As you build muscle, add enough weight to make it a struggle to lift, and aim for six to eight reps at that weight.
Step-ups are an easy way to build your leg muscles. Find a bench or gym box and step up with one leg and then the other. Step down slowly and maintain your form throughout. Work your way up to taller boxes or a bench. From there, you can evolve to jump-ups, where you leap from two feet onto a box. Most gyms will have specific boxes for jumping that increase in size. It’s a great way to build leg strength and improve your vertical leap.
Lunges are like squats and can really increase your endurance on the mountain. Start with backward lunges and progress to lunges and tackle walking lunges. From there, you can add dumbbells to the workout or do curtsy lunges.
To start, stand with your feet together and step one leg forward. Bend down so the front leg forms a right angle while you back leg almost touches the floor. These are great to build hip and core strength. Lunges are perfect for snowboarders because riders can stand like their board stance and step into lateral lunges, then alternate from side to side to build strength and balance.
One of the best ways to prevent a major knee injury like an ACL tear is to have strong hamstrings. Make sure your workout includes a healthy dose of hamstring exercises. There are several machines at the gym that can give your hamstrings a good stretch. It’s also important to work them vigorously during your daily stretching routine. Start with light weight and work up to body weight before adding enough weight to make it more challenging.
The second important focus area when getting in shape for a ski vacation is to build up your core strength. You use your core muscles a lot when skiing or snowboarding. Having a strong core will help with navigating turns and keeping your balance.
Planking is a good way to build core strength. Lie flat on the floor and push up your hips so that you’re only resting on your forearms and toes. Your body should for a straight line that is parallel to the floor. Try to hold this position for 60 seconds without letting your hips dip.
A gym membership is optional and not required. The months just before ski season are a perfect time to get outside. Summer activities like swimming, softball/baseball, basketball, tennis, golf and distance running are great ways to stay in shape during the warm-weather months. The fall is a picture-perfect time for bike rides and sightseeing hikes to build your leg muscles. Spending time outdoors is way more fun that spending the entire summer or fall in the gym.
Yoga is more than discovering your inner Chi. When done correctly, yoga can be an intense, muscle-building experience. Yoga builds flexibility and balance, both of which are very important when skiing. Also, yoga focuses heavily on breathing, which will come in handy when you’re skiing mountains at 10,000 feet or more. Steady breathing can also help keep your muscles limber and your mind focused so you don’t get injured.
There are tons of different yoga practices out there, so do your research when selecting one. Lots of yoga studios offer daily pop-in sessions where you can stop by and get a workout in on your schedule.