With shorter days and plummeting temperatures, it can be a challenge to keep fit during winter. But if you’re planning a ski holiday, then keeping your fitness levels up is the best way to really enjoy your trip and to avoid injury on the ski slopes. Personal trainer and ski champion Chris Stewart has let us in on some of his top insider fitness tips. He explains the best methods for avoiding injury and maintaining great ski fitness, both before and during your ski holiday this season.

Chris’s top tips for ski fitness

Build your strength before hitting the slopes

Building your strength is the key to being a great skier and avoiding injury. During your tim
e on the slopes your body will be put under a huge amount of pressure as you battle against gravity and the snow; twisting, turning and putting up resistance to stay in control.

Strength building exercises for ski fitness:

  • Deadlifts
  • Squats
  • Lunges

Exercises such as deadlifts, squats and lunges are all great as part of a pre-ski season fitness regime.  They are all ‘whole body movements’ and build an incredible amount of muscle and core strength. Strengthening the calves and hamstrings is really important for skiers in order to protect the knees (a common injury site). Because the ankle is usually locked into a boot, knee joints take an even greater amount of stress and pressure than normal – especially during those inevitable falls!

Core strengthening exercises:

  • Plank/ Side plank
  • Knee raises
  • Back extensions

Building strength in your core will ensure you ski efficiently throughout the day. The midsection is the link between your legs and your upper body. You’re only as strong as your weakest link!

Guard against lactic acid build up (that weak, jelly-legged feeling!)

Lactic acid is every athlete’s worst enemy, and the same goes for skiers! When you’re tackling long and winding ski runs, the last thing you need is lactic acid setting in, it leaves your legs feeling like jelly and brings with it weakness and nausea. For optimal skiing stamina it’s a great idea to build up a tolerance to lactic acid with some simple but effective exercises.

Exercises to build up your tolerance:

  • Hill sprints
  • Interval bike sprints
  •  Metabolic conditioning

Short sprints uphill followed by a period of rest are great for building up both your lactic acid threshold and your skiing stamina. You should normally look to work to a 3:1 ratio when doing this type of exercise (so if you sprint for 20 seconds, then rest for one minute). Metabolic conditioning is teaching your body to withstand lactic acid through specific exercises and rest periods. So in time your tolerance will increase, and your capacity to perform on the mountain will too.

Keep yourself fuelled!

You may not realize it, but being at altitude requires you to keep your nutrition levels at a constant high. Make sure you carry snacks with you and ensure you’re always hydrated. Drink as much water as possible. Dehydration can cause fatigue to set in more quickly at altitude. Protein shakes during the day really help to keep muscle soreness at bay.

Nutrition tips for skiers:

  • Power snack
  • Keep hydrated to avoid fatigue
  • Drink protein shakes to reduce post-ski muscle ache

This expert ski fitness advice came courtesy of Chris Stewart. Chris is from Leeds and was part of the GB Telemark ski team 2010 – 2011, so you know you’re in good hands. He now works as a Personal Trainer for 5 Star Fitness, the Yorkshire Personal Training Gyms www.5starfitness.co.uk, so if you’re in the area you can enlist his help first-hand to get you in shape for ski season.

(Image 1, Chris in action. Image 2 copyright of Val Thorens Officiel)