Are You Fit for the Slopes?

Are You Fit for the Slopes?

Published on 17/11/2014 by Finest Holidays - Luxury Travel

A luxury skiing holiday is all about fun. But you shouldn’t forget the “sport” in “winter sports”. A bit of preparation on your physique before you travel to Lech, Verbier or Courchevel will pay great dividends on the slopes. While a good luxury chalet  wheather it be in the French Alps, Swiss Alps or Austrian Alps will come with top-level fitness, wellness and spa facilities, muscle strains and injuries can take the frosting off your snow experience.

Here’s a little top 10 guide to getting in shape for a perfect winter season.

1 – Look ahead

If you’re not used to taking much exercise think about improving your fitness about 6-12 weeks before you travel.

2 – Injuries

Are you still bearing the scars of last year’s descents? If so, make sure you allow plenty of time to have them checked out before you travel. If you’ve had treatment or surgery, make sure you’ve allowed the right recovery time. Visiting your physiotherapist or doctor around 3 months before you travel might be a good idea.

3 – The Engine Room

The heart and lungs are what keep you going on the slopes. To keep your cardiovascular fitness up you need to stretch yourself at least three times a week. Any aerobic (anything that raises your heart rate) exercise will do. Make the sessions at least 20 minutes long and try to get to 50-6-% of your maximum heart rate. That will be around 220 bpm minus your age.

If you enjoy what you’re doing you’re more likely to stick to it. Be aware that running can be hard on the knees. Pro skiers tend to choose cycling, but cross trainers mimic the leg and arm movements of skiing – the Skier’s Edge machine is specifically designed for skiers.

4 – Knees

If you’re a seasoned skier you’ll know how your knees can suffer. Try to perfect your stance before you go. Stand in front of a mirror with shorts on and assume a skiing position. From the center of your knee caps a vertical line to the floor should pass through your second or third toe. When you’ve corrected your knee alignment, do a set of 30 repetitions of getting into this stance and it’ll become muscle memory.

5 – Pelvis

You can do the same with your pelvis’ position. Find the “neutral” position that works best for your muscles. You can find neutral exactly between your two extremes. In a standing position and without bending at the waist, stick your bottom up and out as far as you can. Then reverse the movement to pull your bottom towards yourself. Between these two positions is neutral. Again, get into your skiing stance and find pelvic neutral as a practice routine.

6 – Stance

Flexibility isn’t hugely important in skiing, but stance is. Yoga and Pilates with their emphasis on good posture and the interaction between muscles and bones are good exercises to prepare your body for getting the right position. Tell your teacher that you’re planning to ski and they should have some postures that will help you get the right stance.

7 – Muscle support

Good muscle strength will help take the strain off your joints and give you a better skiing experience. The two most important muscles for skiers are the quadriceps and the gluteals at the front and back of the thigh.

Step downs are a good exercise for the quads. Just use a step if you’re not in the gym. Add weights if sets of 30 repetitions start to feel too easy.

A great exercise for the glutes, specifically those used in skiing, is the clam. Start lying down. Get into a skiing position. Use your lower arm and a towel to support your head so you maintain the natural curvature of the spine. Keep your ankles together and raise your upper knee slowly. Breathe. Then slowly return to your start position.

Cross trainers often include programs for glute and quad exercises and, again, Pilates workouts should include exercises like the clam.

8 – Balance

It goes without saying that staying on your feet is a good thing when you’re skiing. Do some simple work on balance, which will also strengthen your core muscles. It’s as simple as standing on one foot for a couple of minutes. Have support at hand in case you need it. Try to close your eyes and as you get more proficient, try to bend your standing knee or introduce some upper-body movement. Doing it while you brush your teeth is a great way to exercise without changing your routine.

9 – Stretch

While flexibility isn’t a huge factor in skiing success, getting your muscles ready for action before you travel will mean less stiffness when you’re there. If you start a routine two weeks before you go, you’ll make a big difference.

Try a daily stretching routine that works the quads, hamstrings, calves, lower back muscles, hip abductors, and IT band.

Stretches can be simple and easily done at home. Ask your fitness instructor or yoga or Pilates teacher about a routine that works on these key ski muscles.

10 – Warm-Up and Recover

Once you get to the slopes, and particularly when you get started, go through a good warm-up routine before you slide away for the first time.

Swing your arms and legs. Then swing your legs back and forth and side to side, use your poles to help you balance. Rotate around your spine and lean down to each side. Do your best effort at the Twist.

Don’t stretch now as this might cause temporary weaknesses.

Recovery is good too. If you’re in a luxury chalet, head to the sauna, book a massage and do some gentle warm-down exercises. Swimming, with water support for your body, is excellent, or try a glass of Champagne in the hot tub!

Once you’re in shape, Finest Holidays can get you to the slopes in style with some awe-inspiring luxury chalets in all the best resorts. Take a look around our exclusive  portfolio of luxury ski chalets or just give Finest Holidays a call on or and we can start to discuss your plans.


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