In our last blog, I talked about how important it is to make sure your body is fit enough to survive the demands of a week on the slopes this winter.
Skiing exerts huge pressure on your body, with exceptional forces concentrated onto individual muscles or muscle groups. In fact, there isn’t a single muscle in your body that isn’t used over the course of a holiday on the slopes – and the fitter you are, the more chance you have of escaping serious injury.
Believe me – there’s nothing enjoyable about rehabilitating an avoidable injury, especially when you’ve spent a small fortune on the trip.
But given the days are shorter and darker now the clocks have gone back and not everyone wants to be in a gym, what’s the best way to get into shape on your own?
I’m going to share 5 exercises I think you can do at home and which are the very minimum you ought to be getting to grips with between now and landing in the resort. They’re intended to not only build muscle strength and stamina but also improve your cardiovascular health, too.
But before we get to those, let’s start with some general advice that could make all the difference in the weeks leading up to your departure.
Quite simply, take the opportunity to put exercise into your daily routine. If there’s a journey you do regularly by car or tube that you could, with a bit of planning, walk, then walk or jog.
A choice between the lift and the stairs? Take the stairs. If you can increase your heart rate a little at every opportunity, you’ll be amazed at the difference in your fitness and stamina.
But remember to get advice from your GP before undertaking any additional exercise, especially if you haven’t been exercising regularly up until now.
Then think about building these exercises into your routine:
These exercises will build up strength in your legs, and specifically in your thighs (quadriceps or quads). This group of muscles will take the greatest punishment when you’re skiing and so you’ll need to have stamina here.
Your squats should start with your legs shoulder-width apart. Start by pushing your hips back and bending your knees until your thighs are parallel with the floor. Your knees should not extend beyond your toes. Stand up and repeat.
Start by working up to three of four sets of 20 repetitions (reps), with a full minute rest between each set. At first, your quads will be screaming for mercy, but you’ll quickly overcome that. When you can do a set of 20 reps without too much trouble, add 5 to your routine.
This routine is designed to improve the power through your thighs and bum – a great asset when it comes to the twists and turns on the slopes.
With your feet shoulder-width apart, squat down as with a normal squat so that your thighs are parallel to the floor, but instead of standing up, jump from this position as high in the air as you can.
Four sets of four is a good starting point, with a minute of rest between. Again, when you begin to get comfortable, add repetitions to each set.
I did say the quads took punishment in skiing, didn’t I? That’s why exercising them is so important. Wall squats will build stamina, avoiding the burning ache you might otherwise get from extended exercise.
Find a clear wall and stand with your back resting against it, then lower yourself to the squat position and hold for as long as you can tolerate it. To begin with aim for four of these and build up from there.
The easiest way to progress the exercise is to add some weight
These are great for building both strength and balance, which is key when you’re on a pair of skis.
Start with your feet together then step forward with your right leg until it forms a right angle. Your left leg should be almost touching the floor. Aim to do 20 reps four times – two sets of 20 leading with your right leg and two sets of 20 leading with your left.
This will help to protect your abs and back, both of which are in heavy use on a ski run, especially on more challenging slopes.
Fine a nice clear space on the floor and lie on your back. Resting your elbows on the floor, push your hips up until your weight is resting only on your elbows and toes. Hold this position for a full minute.
You can also exercise your oblique muscles by doing this exercise on only one elbow, alternating to give your obliques on each side a workout.
These five exercises will help you build up core strength and hopefully avoid a visit to see us at the end of your holiday.
If you’d like to speak to us about a pre-ski exercise programme to help you protect yourself while taking part in winter sports – or if you have an injury and you’d like to find out more about how we can help with your recovery, please get in touch.