Shaping Up for the Slopes: Get Fit for Your Next Ski Trip 

Learn the essential fitness tips to get fit for skiing. Be prepared to enjoy your ski and riding vacation trip with confidence.

Family skiing in Kirkwood, CA.

Starting Your Ski Fitness Journey

Being prepared for your ski trip starts with conditioning. It’s like going to the driving range before you go to the golf course. So before you zip up your ski jacket, let's talk fitness.

Whether you're a first-timer or returning to the slopes for the first runs of the season, getting your body in shape is key to a fun and safe trip.

Understanding the Physical Demands of Skiing

Skiing is a full-body workout, engaging your core, legs, and balance. It's a mix of endurance, strength, and agility.

As a beginner, you might wonder, "Do I need to be a gym buff to ski?" Not necessarily, but a basic level of fitness helps in reducing the risk of injury and fatigue.

Core Strength: Your Secret Weapon

As with most physical activities, your core is the powerhouse for skiing. It keeps you stable and helps control your movements. Here are a few exercises that will build core strength and improve your balance, a key to staying on top of your skis:.

  1. Planks: Find the top of pushup position, elbows under shoulders, body in a straight line. Start with 3 sets of 30 seconds, and increase duration. 
  2. Russian Twists: Sit, lean back slightly, lift feet off the ground. Twist torso side to side, touching hands to the ground. Do 3 sets of 15-20 reps each side.
  3. Leg Raises: Lie on your back, hands under hips. Raise legs straight up, then lower without touching the floor. Do 3 sets of 10-15 reps.


Leg Workouts: Building Power and Endurance 

While skiing is a full-body workout, much of the heavy lifting happens below the waist. So for long days on the slopes, you’ll want to focus on the strength and endurance of your glutes, quads, hamstrings, and calves. A few exercises that are key to strengthen your base are:

  1. Squats: Stand feet shoulder-width, lower into a squat, keep back straight, return to standing. Aim for 3 sets of 10-15 reps. 
  2. Lunges: Step forward into a lunge, lower until both knees are at 90 degrees, return to standing. Alternate legs. Aim for 3 sets of 10 on each leg. 
  3. Wall Sit: Lean back against a wall, slide down to a sitting position, thighs parallel to floor, hold position. Start with 2 – 3 sets of 30-seconds.
  4. Cycling or Jogging: Build endurance with extended rides or jogs. 


Flexibility: The Unsung Hero of Skiing

You must learn to bend, so you don’t break—flexibility is the key to reduce the risk of muscle strains and injuries. The best way is to add yoga to your fitness routine, or just incorporate some stretches that focus on your hamstrings, quads, and hips. A few key stretches include:

  1. Hamstring Stretch: Sit, extend one leg, bend the other with foot to inner thigh. Keep your back straight and lean towards your extended leg. Hold for 15-30 seconds. Switch legs.
  2. Quadriceps Stretch: Stand, bend one leg back, hold ankle to buttock, knees together; 15-30 seconds. Repeat other side.
  3. Glute/Piriformis Stretch: Sit, cross one leg over the other, ankle on knee. Lean forward; hold 15-30 seconds. Switch legs.


Balance Training: The Art of Staying Upright

Balance is essential for skiing. Adding a few of these targeted balance exercises will make you a better skier, reducing the risk of falls and ultimately injuries:

  1. Single-Leg Romanian Deadlifts: Balance on one leg, lean forward with arms extended, and lift the opposite leg behind. Return to start and switch legs.
  2. Bosu Ball Squats: Stand on a Bosu ball, squat keeping weight on heels, and return up. This boosts balance and stability for skiing.
  3. Core Balance Plank: In a plank position, lift alternating arm and leg, holding briefly. Strengthens core and improves balance.

Cardio: Stamina for the High Country

Skiing is an aerobic sport, so it is important to have a good cardiovascular base. Not to mention, it all takes place at a higher elevation, where the air is thinner.  

Activities like swimming, biking, brisk walking, or using an elliptical trainer can boost your heart health and endurance, making those long ski runs at elevation much more manageable.  

Realistic Goals and Patience

How long does it take to get fit for skiing? It varies, but starting at least 8 weeks before your trip will help make a notable difference. Set realistic goals and gradually increase the intensity of your workouts. Remember, it's a journey, and every bit of effort counts.

Final Thoughts: The Harder You Work, the Easier the Play

Any work you put in now, will make for a better time in the mountains. There’s nothing worse than not being able to keep up with your own expectations. Or not being able to walk on your second day of vacation.

So it's not just about improving your performance—it's about enjoying your time on the mountain—safely and comfortably. So find a friend, hit the gym or the park, and start getting ready for your trip to the mountains.