Ski fit – The best exercises for skiing and how to do it properly

By September 18, 2018Winter sports
Ski fit

13 years of Skiology research!

“The best exercise is that that you can do easily and regularly” with that in mind, we are going to look at running and cycling for ski fitness focusing on technique.

The NHS recommend (depending on your age) that you should take 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity or 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity per week andstrength exercises on 2 days.

The easier we make something to do the more likely we are to do it so let’s make the goal 25 minutes vigorous aerobic 3 times a week Monday, Wednesday, and Friday and strength days on Tuesday and Thursday.

To assure that it is done, make it the first thing you do that day. You will come back from your exercise feeling like the day has been won before you have even started it.

If you have difficulty getting up earlier in the morning remember the new day starts the night before so practice setting an alarm to go to bed earlier. We recommend an alarm to go to bed at 21:30 asleep by 10:00 and up by 06:00 to allow time for exercise before breakfast and work.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Running

There is a correct way to run. Sam Bevan our resort manager introduced us to the book Born to Run, a study of man’s most ancient pursuit. The author under the tuition of some of the worlds best runners forms the following checklist

  • Back straight?
  • Knees bent and driving forward?
  • Heels flicking back?

Author Tim Ferris adds a few fine-tuning points in his book the 4-hour body, under the lead of the same athletes.

  • Leaning forward? Use gravity for forward motion instead of muscular push off. Lean and fall like a tree rather than bending at the hips.
  • Land on the balls of your feet.  This will give you a bouncy feeling and a natural leg lift on each step.
  • Pull each foot off the ground and towards your buttocks.
  • Maintain 180 steps per minute.

There is a crossover between lists so let’s simplify it to

  • Back straight and leaning forward?
  • Landing on balls of feet?
  • Legs bent and feet flicking back towards buttocks?

We can get maintaining 180 steps per minute off the list by listening to music at that pace and running to the beat, Spotify has some playlists that can help out here.

Like with everything new, go easy. Maybe start with a 10-minute run rather than a 25. From experience, if I have not run for a while then if I go straight out and run on the tarmac I will get shin splints and not be able to run for a week so consider the surface that you run on too.
If you decide that you do want to try these tips. Try one at a time rather than all at the same time, for example, go out for 1 x 25-minute run and focus on running with a straight back, get it into your muscle memory and then try the next tip on your next run.

Just for fun, you now know what your body should be doing. So here is what your mind should be doing according to the ancient running tribe the Tarahumara that are the focus of the book Born to Run “Think Easy, Light, Smooth, and Fast. You start with easy, because if that’s all you get, that’s not so bad. Then work on light. Make it effortless, like you don’t give a darn how high the hill is or how far you’ve got to go. When you’ve practiced that so long, that you forget you’re practicing, you work on making it smooooooth. You won’t have to worry about the last one – you get those three, and you’ll be fast.”

Cycling

There is also a correct way to set up your bicycle for both efficiency and injury avoidance. The easiest way would be to have a professional do it for you. You can generally make adjustments to

  • Saddle height and position
  • Handlebar height and position

Adjusting the saddle height will help you get the most the out of your leg power.

Adjusting the sadle position will put the knee over pedal spindle, this adjustment is so common that it is called KOPS for short. Adjusting handlebar height and position will help you get the ergonomics right and avoid injuries like neck pain cyclingweekly has a great guide on how to set up your bike.

Safety first. It would be counterproductive to get injured in your quest to get ski fit so before you get on your bike make sure that you do the M safety check.

Strength exercise

Muscle-strengthening exercises are counted in repetitions and sets. A repetition is 1 complete movement of an activity, like a biceps curl or a sit-up. A set is a group of repetitions. For each strength exercise, try to do:

  • At least 1 set
  • 8 to 12 repetitions in each set
  • To get health benefits from strength exercises, you should do them to the point where you struggle to complete another repetition.

Enter Sam, our resort manager and ultra marathon runner.

  • “Weighted squats and weighted lunges
  • Sit-ups and back raises.

These are the four exercises that tax the muscles you will need for your ski holiday. Squats and lunges to give you a full quad workout which can be completed in a few minutes and sit-ups and back extensions because your core holds your body together when the slope under you varies.

  • Squats you should try. See how many sets you can do then and try to do sets totalling to a multiple of 3 i.e 3, 6 or 9 sets. 
  • Lunges should be done 10 lunges out weighted, drop the weight, 10 lunges back to where you started then walk back to the weight and start your second set. The weight makes it quicker for your legs to feel the burn rather than spending a lot of time on the exercise. It also simulates the feeling of being out here at altitude with all your ski equipment on. Find the heaviest weight you can hold (shopping bags) and use that as the household dumbbell. The important thing with squats is that you go all the way down. Keep your legs shoulder width apart then go down until your quads touch your calves. Holding a broomstick while doing it may help keep your posture correct.
  • Sit ups 3 sets.
  • Back extensions 3 sets.”

Effectively you are working your legs and core. If you are unfamiliar with the above exercises the NHS has some great 10-minute workout videos for core and legs.

Conclusion

This course will assist in your ski stamina helping you catch your breath back quicker and increasing your muscles too. You can monitor your progressions by using the same cycling or running route, when you are half way turn around and come back, within a few weeks half way will get further and easier away so you know you are progressing.

Don’t forget to ease into your chosen exercise. If you have any further tips we would love to know.

Tips and tricks

“What gets measured gets managed”

  • If you invest in a Fitbit it can help 2 fold here 1. It is a silent vibrating alarm so that you don’t wake anyone else up in the house for your new early morning rituals 2. You can set exercise goals and record on the device so that it will monitor your progress for you.

Be accountable “If you really want to do something tell 10 people you are going to do it” you won’t want to loose face if you don’t!

  • If you want to check that we are taking our own medicine then you can follow us on Strava here. Strava links with FitBit to publicise your activity. We have only just started using Strava however this is me telling 1000+ readers that we are committed to the programme as we know it works just have not tracked/publicised it before 🙂

From our favourite personal trainer and guest, Issi, who runs ski fit classes in Surrey which we highly recommend!

  • Find a RELIABLE training buddy to motivate you.
  • Set goals.
  • Ask yourself why you are doing it and remind yourself regularly that it’s for something positive….remember the psychological side of exercising, the mind is stronger than the body. However obviously listen to your body and if you hurt … STOP!!! Find safe exercises for your body.
  • Don’t leave it to the last minute to get ‘Ski-Fit’…. like running a marathon you don’t want to collapse at the end.. you want to be able to go out and party to celebrate! (My analogy of Apres ski 😉 )
  • Book your holiday early and start your training that day!
  • Legs are very important but don’t forget the rest of your body, you will need strength to carry your equipment, to push yourself up off the floor (either from falling or drinking 😊) and if you do fall you want to do plenty of upper strength training as well to protect those bones and muscles.
  • Do plenty of core, hip stability and balance work. Hip bridges are vital, hip hitching is great for stabilising the knee. Balancing and standing on one foot can be done anywhere!
  • Do exercises whilst cleaning your teeth, waiting for the kettle to boil, standing over the kids whilst they clear their mess up, waiting for the bus, a taxi, chatting with house guests (they’ll soon join in when they know what you’re doing).
  • Yoga is great for stretching and opening the hips… find a fun class with a teacher who likes to ski possibly 😉 Stretching is essential!
  • If you have an existing injury incorporate any rehab exercises into your routine, this will ensure that you have created the needed stability in the specific area greatly reducing the risk of re-injuring the same joint/muscle.
  • Get a PT or sign up to a course of classes.

Exercising won’t make you a better skier necessarily but it can prevent you from injuring yourself and help you enjoy a full day skiing with your new found stamina and strength.