If you roll off your sofa straight into your ski boots, with little or no prior fitness training, your thighs are likely to complain and your back, bum and calves may also grumble about being rudely awakened after months of inactivity.
So to ensure you get the most out of your time in the snow, and to reduce your chances of injury, do as much ski specific fitness training before you hit the slopes.
How long does it take to get ski-fit?
You should ideally kick-off your training about 12 weeks before you go. However, it's almost never too late to start, and embarking on a fitness programme, even a few weeks before your trip, will help you to ski better. A little training is always better than no training at all. Just don't expect to transform yourself from couch potato to ski-fit superhero in a couple of days!
So what should you be doing?
When you're training for a ski trip, endurance should be your focus rather than pure strength. This means doing lots of repetitions using little or no weight. Your aim is to create the toned legs of an endurance athlete, as opposed to the bulging thighs of a bodybuilder. This will enable you to spend more time on the slopes having fun, and less time massaging your tired and achy bits in your room.
What's the best exercise to do?
Squats are the ultimate ski fitness exercise. They strengthen the legs and bum, and are an easy way to mimic the skiing action and thigh burn at home. They can also help to improve your coordination and balance.
But don't just squat up and down on the spot. Create challenging squat combinations incorporating kicks, low pulses, 1-legged squats, calf raises, hops and jumps (ask an HA fitness trainer for a demo if you've not done any of these before or are a bit rusty). Try doing 100 reps using as many different variations you can think of. Then rest for 30 seconds and repeat. If counting reps doesn't work for you, try timing yourself. Keep the squats going, without taking a break, for the time it would take you to get from the top to the bottom of a run.
Increase the intensity using medicine balls, dumbbells, barbells or kettlebells. Keep going, with good technique, until you hit exhaustion. Then do another round! You should aim to do 3 good strength training sessions per week, with a rest day in between,
Get fully prepared for your ski trip by also including core strength exercises, balance, agility, cardio and upper body training into your fitness regime. The more work you put in prior to your trip, the more you'll be rewarded with exhilarating skiing, tireless energy and fun!
You may also be interested in reading the following articles before you go:
Getting Into Shape For The Slopes