While his advice wasn't all that helpful, I did learn a few things that day...namely that skiing involves muscles I never knew I had (until the next day). If you plan on skiing this year, learn from my mistakes and prepare your body for the rigors of skiing.
Tips for Weekend Warriors
What makes skiing so fun is the fact that you can only do it at certain times of the year. That's also what makes it dangerous. Because you can't practice skiing before the snow flies, your body is left to fend for itself.
On top of that, many of us end up skiing only a few times a year, so we don't have much consistency to keep our bodies conditioned for it.
To avoid injury and misery, take some time to prepare your body before your trip. If you don't already have a regular exercise routine, it's not too late to start one. Plus, knowing you're doing it in order to enjoy your ski holiday will help keep you motivated.
If you already exercise, you may need to tweak your workouts to make them more effective.
Build Your Endurance
If you want to get your money's worth out of that expensive lift ticket, you'll need plenty of cardio endurance. Most of us hit the slopes and plan on skiing all day, even if it's been months or years since we last skiied. By afternoon, you're so tired you lose focus and this is often when injuries and accidents happen.
To prepare your heart and body for long-term skiing, your cardio program should include 3-5 days each week of your favorite activity (the best for skiing include running, stairmaster, step aerobics, elliptical trainer and rollerblading). Try to have a variety of workouts lasting from 20-45 minutes. As you get closer to your trip, you can also add time to one of your workouts so that you have one long workout each week. Below is a sample schedule of workouts, just to give you some ideas. These are just examples, so feel free to make your own schedule.
Workout 1: Interval training, 20-30 minutes
Workout 2: Medium pace workout, 40 minutes
Workout 3: Short, intense workout, 20 minutes
Workout 4: Medium pace workout, 45 minutes
Workout 5: Long, slow workout, 60 minutes
Build Your Strength
What makes skiing such a great exercise is that is uses all of your muscle groups. However, some muscles are used more than others and those are the ones you want to concentrate on when it comes to your strength workouts. Skiing involves:
- Quadriceps. Probably the most used muscle in skiing are the muscles of the quads. These muscles hold you in position as you ski and they also provide protection for your knees. Great exercises for the quads include squats, leg presses and lunges.
- Hamstrings & Glutes. When skiing downhill, you typically hold your body in a flexed position--meaning you're leaning forward from the hips. This requires great strength from your hamstrings and glutes as they help stabilize your body. Work your hams and glutes with deadlifts, leg curls and lunges.
- Inner/Outer Thighs. Your inner thighs work like crazy to keep your skis together. Your outer thighs keep your body stable and help you steer. Work these muscles with side lunges, inner thigh squeezes and leg lifts.
- Calves. Because your knees are bent as you ski, your calves (specifically the soleus) help you stay upright so you don't fall over (your ski boots help too). You can work this muscle by doing seated calf raises.
- Abs and Back. Because you're in a flexed position, bent over, your back has to work like a maniac to hold your body in that position. Your abs help in that endeavor while also protecting your spine. Your lats get involved as you ski on a flat surface or uphill, using your poles for leverage. Work these muscles with exercises like bicycles, woodchops, back extensions, lat pulldowns and dumbbell rows.
- Arms. Along with your back, arms help push off with your poles while stabilizing your shoulder joints. Be sure to work your biceps (barbell or dumbbell curls) and triceps (try dips or dumbbell extensions).