Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Ski Trip Fitness: how to get fit for the slopes

I'm sure you are excited for your upcoming ski trip. But before that, you should make sure that your body is physically fit for the activities that you will do. Former British downhill skier Graham Bell has a few fitness tips to help you get ready for the slopes.

Cardio. Cardio. Cardio.

Your heart and lungs are the engine that will keep you going all day on the slopes at altitude. Improving your cardiovascular system will help in improving your skiing stamina. Bell suggests to start your cardiovascular exercises at least six weeks before the start of your ski vacation and you'll notice a huge difference.

Even by just going for a brisk walk will provide you a good cardiovascular work out. Walk upstairs or walk up escalators instead of standing still. Try whenever possible to get yourself a little bit out of breath.

Bell also explains that to train for a longer period of time at a manageable pace is the best way to improve your aerobic fitness. It's fine to do it little and often rather than doing it all of a sudden. Cycling, running, rowing or stepping for 20 minutes three times a week will provide a solid base, he adds.

Build up your skiing muscles

A skier is familiar with burning thighs after a long run, or an aching muscles the next day. In order to last longer, you need to build your ski-specific muscles such as your legs, specifically the quadriceps or the thigh muscles, the buttocks and the calves.

Bell suggests to use leg press but avoid knee curls to avoid your knees from getting strained. He added that it is reasonable to do a number of repetitions (up to 20 at a time) in order to build up endurance.

Bell explains that the lower legs take a lot of strain. So it is better to work on strength endurance rather than maximum strength – thus work at 70% of your maximum.

Bell adds that hamstring curls are also an important type of exercise but often forgotten by skiers. Hamstring curls is done by lying on your front and pulling your heels up to your backside. It strengthens the back of the leg and protects the knee from possible knee ligament tears.

But if you don't go to a gym, don't worry. You can perform some exercises at home. Bell suggests doing simple squats and crouching down (your back straight and knee forming a right angle and then back to standing position) and lunges would do.

According to Bell, strengthening some key areas in your body such as your stomach, back and sides are important especially for beginners who fall a lot and use this part of the body to get back up. To prepare them for your ski vacation, Bell suggests to either use the machine in the gym or do sit-ups and press-ups at home. Moreover, having a strong shoulders are important especially for those who take a lot of hits.

Flexibility, balance, and coordination

Increased flexibility helps your body to prevent injuries. It can easily cope up with the strange twists that happens often to skiers. It also helps your body prevent soreness and stiffness during your ski vacation.

A little stretch every time you do some exercise will help increase your flexibility. For beginners, Bell suggests doing calf stretching. He added that hamstring stretches and quad stretching are also important.

Likewise, good balance and coordination are important in helping you improve skiing techniques quickly. Moreover, Bell adds that these assets help skiers stay on their feet and recover from potential wipeout at speed. As an exercise, he suggests to stand on one leg and the other leg trying to write numbers in the air from 1-10.

With all these exercises, your body will surely be ready for your much-awaited ski trip. Happy skiing!

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