Exercises to Get Your Body Ready for Skiing

2 Things to do before you go skiing
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Snow skiing is one of the reasons many of us can't wait for winter temperatures but, because it's a seasonal thing, it can be hard on the body the first time you hit the slopes.

Skiing involves so many muscle groups, as well as everything from cardio endurance to core strength, it's easy to get exhausted early on and put your body at risk for injury.

It pays to prepare your body before you head to the ski slopes during winter.

Here are some basic tips for getting in shape for ski season.

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 only ski a few times a year, so we don't have enough 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. Follow these step by step instructions for getting in shape for skiing.

1.  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 skied.

By afternoon, you're so tired that your legs feel like jello, a prime time for injuries and accidents happen.

To prepare your heart and body for long-term skiing, your cardio program should include:

  • 3 to 5 days each week of cardio. The best for skiing include running, the stairclimber, the elliptical trainer, or any other activity that gets your heart rate up and works your entire body. 
  • A variety of workouts at varying intensities lasting from 20 to 45 minutes.
  • One long, slow workout each week for 60 or more minutes to condition your legs and lungs for long days of skiing.

Sample Skiing Cardio Workout Schedule

Workout 1: Interval training, such as this Elliptical Interval Workout, 20 to 40 minutes
Workout 2: Medium-pace workout, 40 minutes - Cardio-Medley Workout
Workout 3: Short, intense workout, 20-30 minutes - Sprint Interval Workout
Workout 4: Medium-pace workout, 45 minutes - Basic Endurance Workout
Workout 5: Long, slow workout, 60+ minutes

2.  Build Your Strength

What makes skiing such a great exercise is that it uses all of your muscle groups. However, some muscles are used more than others. Those are the ones you want to concentrate on when it comes to your strength workouts. Skiing involves:

  1. 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 and lunges.
  1. Hamstrings and 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, one legged deadlifts, pull throughs, step ups and hamstring rolls. More hamstring and glute exercises.
  2. Inner and 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, sliding side lunges, inner thigh leg lifts, inner thigh squeezes, side step squats, and leg lifts.
  1. 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 standing calf raises or machine calf raises.
  2. 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 and dumbbell rows.
  3. Arms. Along with your back, arms help push off with your poles while stabilizing your shoulder joints. Be sure to work your biceps and triceps along with the rest of your body.

3. Put It All Together

You know you need both cardio and strength training, so how do you put them all together in the perfect workout routine?

You have a cardio schedule and this Total Body Ski Workout is the perfect option for your strength workout. This workout targets strength, endurance, stability and overall fitness. Don't forget to get plenty of stretching in as well -- being flexible is another way to keep your body safe from injury.

Sample Skiing Workout Routine

Day 1Elliptical Interval Workout
Day 2: Total Body Ski Workout 
Day 3: Sprint Interval Workout
Day 4: Rest or yoga
Day 5Total Body Ski Workout
Day 6: Cardio-Medley Workout
Day 7: Long, slow endurance workout - walking, jogging, etc.

That's just one way to set up your workouts and, of course, you need to work up the endurance and conditioning for all that exercise.

Start with what you can handle and make this the year you focus on getting in the best shape you can for skiing. Building strength and endurance will keep your body strong and help you avoid injuries while making your skiing much more fluid and effortless.

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