Part one: What to do before you hit (or ski) the slopes
Other than needing more thermal layers than a lasagne, I will aim to breakdown everything you should and can be doing in the gym, approximately 3 months before your skiing trip.
As with most sports, the harder more intense training should have been completed weeks prior to the main event, getting you ready in advance to arriving on the slopes, allowing you to be in top physical condition to make the most of your trip. Pushing too hard, too close to skiing, is like pushing too hard in any sport leading up to the main event. Resulting in either injury or exhaustion. Neither is fun I assure you.
Main take home: Plan your training regime. Understood? make sense? Okay, let’s continue.
8 weeks before skiing.
You want to follow a simple but effective strength and conditioning program. Doing predominately compound (large groups of muscles) movements and unilateral (single side) work, focusing around anti-core-rotation.
Depending on time available to you and your training experience, you could easily prepare for skiing with 2-3 strength sessions a week, or if you have more training experience and time, you could probably aim for 3-4 training sessions a week. An example for a planned week’s training, without going into the each session specifics, could be as follows:
4 sessions per week:
Monday - Total Body Pull Session
Tuesday - Total Body Push Session
Wednesday - Active Rest
Thursday - Total Body Pull Session
Friday - Total Body Push Session
Saturday - Active Rest
Sunday - Active Rest
3 sessions per week:
Monday - Total Body
Tuesday - Active Rest
Wednesday - Total Body
Thursday - Active Rest
Friday - Total Body
Saturday - Active Rest
Sunday - Active Rest
What your workout’s should be focused on.
Not only is there a huge requirement for overall leg strength, knee integrity, and hip stability, there is a much greater demand on the core, as
“Sufficient trunk strength is a basic requirement of athletic performance and has great relevance for sport-specific profiling to maintain an optimal posture and to lower excessive loading on passive structures” - J Hum Kinet et al., 2017
For example, when you’re making ‘turns’ on a slope, you lean into the gradient whilst twisting your thighs and pushing through one of your legs transferring the force, linking the turns allowing you to flow seamlessly through the snow and down the slope, and
“a high level of strength and power is needed to produce and transfer forces efficiently in the various skiing techniques” - Sanbakk’s 2018
So if you don’t have a strong core to stabilise you as you transfer force you will most likely lose balance, resulting in an epic wipeout. Also, for your limbs to work effectively and efficiently, you need that core strong to maintain your position, which is over your ski’s and on the slope. Not face first into a tree or worse!
Some of the best ways to strengthen your core is through compound movements, like squats and deadlifts, which will have the added bonus of increasing your overall strength and muscular endurance, but anti-rotation exercises such as; off-set loaded carries, racked kettlebell split squats or step ups, will have increased adaptation and development of the core whilst building leg strength and endurance.
So to quickly summarise (and before you fall asleep) is a example for a pre-skiing training session that could be implemented in the first 8 weeks of preparation:
Example Total Body Session
Pre-workout: 10-15 minutes warm up, foam rolling and mobility work.
More demanding exercise first - compound movement
A - Barbell deadlifts (video below) 6 x 6, 120-180sec rest
Compound movements with a focus on anti-rotation
B1 - Single side TRX rows (video below), 4 x 10each side, 30sec rest
B2 - Same side repeating, reverse side banded lunges, with offset racked kettlebell, 4 x 10each side, 60-90sec rest
C1 - Split stance, single side landmine shoulder press, same side repeating, 3-4 x 10each side, 20sec rest
C2 - Plank hold with lateral slider abduction/adduction, same side repeating, 3-4 x 10each side, 60sec rest
3 weeks before skiing.
This is when you should be looking to maintain your strength whilst reducing the training volume. You can still train 3 per week or even 4, but you should look to lower some of the sets on the exercises you had been doing.
1 week before skiing.
The hard work is all done. You’re ready. During this week I would advise doing 2 low(er) intensity sessions 3-4 days before you arrive on the slopes, keeping the volume low. You really don’t want to be suffering with muscle soreness on your first day on the slopes!
Part two: On the slopes
Not much to really say here, other than you’ve worked hard the weeks/months leading up to the trip, now it’s time to enjoy the benefits and work on your skiing technique. Let’s hope you’re a natural!
I’ve not provided much nutritional advice in this blog as it was my intention to just cover the training principles, but I would advise that whilst you’re away keep up the good habits with plenty of protein (containing essential amino acids) for your recovery and staying as hydrated as possible. Not too much booze at lunch!
Another consideration would be to take a foam roller and tennis ball so that you can spend some time foam rolling the tender/tight muscles after long days on the slopes, maintaining your mobility.
Part three: Post skiing
Hopefully you had a fantastic trip, did some new runs and felt better than before.
This next part should really be another recovery period. Give your body a chance to adjust to the lower altitude and recover to the demands of skiing by taking a couple days rest, then start back slow, using the same principle as the 3 weeks before your trip, low(er) intensity and less volume to begin with, and after a good week, maybe two start to increase the intensity and training volume again, looking ahead for the rest of the year.
If you’re still scratching your head and you’d like me to do all the prep and planning for your next skiing trip, please contact me here