Sport Specific Training for Ski Season

Believe it or not, the ski season is just around the corner.  Most seasons I am fairly diligent in preparing my body for the activity on the slopes, especially now that I am beyond my prime time - way beyond.  But, regardless of age, if you are not physically prepared for that first Saturday trip to your favorite ski area, you will be paying the price on Sunday and most likely for a few days more.  Despite my preparation, I am always amazed at how the aches and pains after the first day reveal so many muscles that I never realized I had.

Since skiing and boarding are activities that most people can only do at certain times of the year and, for that matter, on only a few occasions, hitting the slopes is not only fun but also dangerous at the same time.  We don't have much consistency to keep our bodies conditioned for it.

This year, make it a point to get in the best shape you can before that trek to the mountains. You don't want to struggle on the slopes and damage your reputation as a ski stud! Not only will your skiing and boarding go more smoothly, but you'll have a much better time.  To avoid injury and misery, take some time to prepare your body for the rigors.  If you don't already have a regular exercise routine, it's not too late to start one. If you already exercise, you may need to tweak your workouts to make them more effective. Skiing uses different muscle groups than other sports, so it's always a good idea to prepare those muscles for the slopes. Preparing for the ski season will let you fully enjoy the ski season.

Realistically speaking, if you are planning to go skiing or boarding this winter, and you haven't started working out to prepare for it, you are already quite late.  Experts suggest that a beginner should spend 16-20 weeks preparing for ski season.  A person who keeps himself or herself in shape can be ready in eight-12 weeks.  But, this is one situation when the old saying of “better late than never” certainly applies.

You don’t need to become a professional bodybuilder to ski or board safely, but you should be at a decent and average level of fitness to really enjoy yourself. Preparing your body for ski season should include three major focuses, strength, endurance and flexibility. This means that you should be in overall good health and that you should be flexible enough to endure a few slips or falls that are bound to happen.

Muscle conditioning is essential because of the intense demand placed on your body while skiing or boarding.  And, what makes skiing such a great exercise is that it uses all of your muscle groups.  However, some muscles are used more than others and those are the ones you want to concentrate on when it comes to your strength workouts. Alternate workouts focusing on: quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, thighs, calves, abs, arms and back.  Connect with a local fitness trainer who can help you develop the most effective strength training program that can target these areas.

You’ll be paying big bucks for that lift ticket so prepare your cardio endurance.  You’ll get more time out on the slopes with better endurance.  Additionally, you’ll help prevent injuries.  After all, while squeezing in that last run in the afternoon, weariness can lead to the likelihood of injuries.
To prepare your heart and body for long-term skiing, your cardio program should include 3-5 days each week of running, stairmaster, step aerobics, elliptical trainer and/or rollerblading. Vary your workouts for 20 to 45 minute durations. As you get closer to your trip, you can also add time to one of your workouts so that you have one long workout each week.

Don't forget to get plenty of stretching.  Flexibility is another contributing factor that can keep your body safe from injury.  Flexibility exercises are most important whether preparing to ski or simply working on general fitness.  You should be flexible enough to weather a few spills and falls. Make sure you can move your body easily, if not, stretch each day to improve your body’s flexibility and balance.
There are several exercises specifically designed for increasing flexibility. The hip area is the most important for skiing as this is where you adjust your upper body to maintain balance. To increase the flexibility of both your hips and legs you can do gentle calisthenics to stretch and strengthen the muscles groups in these areas.  Once again, working with a fitness trainer to help you develop a highly effective flexibility program will serve you best.

Also important, but often neglected, are exercises to improve balance, agility and coordination, the experts say.  Tennis, squash, and other raquet sports help develop coordination skills.  Soccer also helps focus on skills similar to skiing and boarding. 

Preparing your body for the ski season is a great way to minimize the residual aches and pains of those exciting opening-day runs.  It’s also a great way to avoid injury and ski safely. You can not only get more out of your ski trips, but also get into shape as well.

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