Having a good level of fitness when you go skiing or snowboarding is essential to not only enjoy the holiday without really struggling but also to avoid potentially injuring yourself.

Here are some fitness tips to help you prepare

It is easy to forget just how physical skiing can be. Even with if you have a lunch stop an average day on the slopes will deliver between 4 and 6 hours of sustained physical activity. Of course the ski lifts give you a chance to recover, but the higher the altitude the longer that will take. And you do need to recover, because skiing works you at an intensity that can only be sustained for a couple of minutes before the legs start to burn up with lactic acid.

If you really want to ski longer, harder and safer next winter, you will need to create a ski fitness programme that includes:


To improve your cardiovascular fitness, you will need to try and do aerobic sessions of up to an 1 hour at least three times a week. Aerobic activity includes any exercise which raises your heart rate, such as cycling or running.

During these sessions, you should be working at around 50-60% of your max heart rate. A quick way of estimating your max heart rate without doing a test is 220 minus your age. If you cannot take your heart rate then another good rule of thumb is that you should be able to just about hold a conversation with whoever you are training with.

Try and find a way of training that you enjoy and you will be more likely to stick with it.

Cycling is also another favoured method of aerobic training and is a great way to replicate the fitness needed for skiing or snowboarding.

Cross-trainers provide a way of breaking up a big endurance session with a variety of exercises. If you can get access to one, then the Skier’s Edge provides the best ski specific fitness workout, as it is the only machine that works in a lateral plain.

Ice Skating, rollerblading or rollerskiing are great ways to train endurance for skiing as they require similar levels of balance/coordination and lateral movement.

Running is great for weight loss, and can deliver a very high-end aerobic workout. The downside is that it is high impact and can be hard on skiers’ knees.

Swimming is not a great way to train for skiing as it concentrates too much on the upper body, although is a good way to vary a programme.

As well as the aerobic element strength training is good to include especially lower body.

Exercises such as

Wall sit

(Sit with your back against the wall and upper legs parallel to the floor and hold for 1 min or to failure)

Barbell squats

(Put a barbell on your upper shoulders and bend your knees to 90 degrees and lean forward to about 45 degrees rpt 8-12 times for strength gains, do 2-3 sets)

Walking Lunges

(Walk forward with some weights in your hand to full stride, again bend the knees to 90 degrees then walk back to the standing leg rpt 8-12 times, do 2-3 sets)

Another element to your training is making sure you have good flexibility to avoid pulling muscles too easily. Ideally you should start with active stretches before your first run on the slopes.

Mobility Exercises such as

Forward Leg swings

(kick your leg up in the air whilst holding a ski pole or fixed object if boarding, then rpt on the opposite side 20 times. This improves flexibility in the legs and back)

Side hip swings

( Again hold ski pole or fixed object swing leg across your body then rpt 20 times on opposite side, this improves your hip mobility)

Straight Leg reaches

(Take feet hip width apart then reach down with legs straight as far as you can, then rpt this to the right side then the left side to improve flexibility in the back of the legs and inner thighs)

Arm Swings

( Start with small arm circles going forward then get gradually bigger so your taking the arms past your ears, rpt this going backwards this will help improve your shoulder mobility)

Trunk rotations

( Place your hands together stand hip width apart with your feet and swing the arms round to each shoulder or beyond if you have the flexibility. This is a great way of mobilising the spine especially lower back)

After a long day on the slopes a good stretch off before you hit the apres ski will help you recover before the next day’s ski! Try and hold your stretches for 30-60 secs each.

Try these Stretches

Quads ( hold your ankle and pull your lower leg up to your backside)
Hamstrings( One leg straight opposite leg bent then lean into the straight leg, place hands on knee or reach to your foot)
Glutes ( Find something to hold onto, take one leg over the other one and bend your knee whilst crouching down)
Calf ( Find something to push against have one leg behind straight with heel on the floor and lean into the front leg)

it will take about 6 weeks to feel the benefits from your training you can also consider anaerobic exercises where you work in short blasts, such as circuit training – a great way to get even fitter before you hit the slopes.

So if you have a ski holiday booked soon you need to get training so your legs and lungs are ready!

Happy Holidays
Rich Jones