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  • 5 minutes

Main Points

  • What are the demands of skiing on the body
  • Common Injuries
  • Preparing your body for ski season workout

Sliding down a snowy mountain at 40mph may be great fun, but if you’re not physically prepared for the demands of skiing, there’s a pretty high injury risk.

Almost every skier you meet either has an injury tale of their own, or knows someone who suffered an injury on a skiing trip. Some of these are from collisions, but a lot of them are musculoskeletal injuries that stem from a lack of physical preparedness.

If you’re going skiing, you owe it to yourself to prepare yourself properly and do some serious strength training for skiing. In this article we’ll give you the run down on preparing your body for ski season.

What are the Demands of Skiing on the Body?

Let’s break skiing down and look at the demands on the body. It’s a fairly unique sport in the sense that during the activity, the body position is relatively static – it’s essentially a quarter squat. The upper limbs assist balance mostly. They don’t carry any load.

Of course there is some movement of the lower limbs, but not nearly as much as other sports and the direction change is limited. This means the effort and functional stress is placed on the same areas – the quads and the knees take the brunt of the workload.

When held for hours per day, the quarter squat position places enormous physical strain on the quads in particular, but also recruits the glutes. These are the muscles responsible for knee stability, so if they fatigue quickly you put the knee joint at particular risk. Given the knee joint is the major shock absorber in the lower limbs, the quads and glutes need to be able to resist fatigue for as long as possible.

Common Injuries in Skiers

The two most common injuries in skiers are both knee injuries – Anterior Cruciate Ligament and Medial Collateral Ligament injuries, followed by PFS (Patella Femoral Syndrome). Whilst these are different in their mechanics, the likelihood of either occurring is dramatically reduced by strengthening the quadricep and gluteal muscles.

The most common injury site in amateur skiers? The knees.

What do the quads and glutes stabilise? The knees.

Which muscles are used most in skiing? The quads and glutes.

Spot the pattern?

It stands to reason then that in order to properly prepare our bodies for skiing, we need to strengthen the quads, glutes and lower back. These key areas will not only help us to maintain better body position which will improve technique, but it’ll also allow us to ski longer and reduce our injury risk.

Depending on your current level of strength, I’d allow between 4 and 12 week to condition your body for skiing. If you’re already fit and strong, you’d be closer to the 4 week end of the spectrum. If this strength training is new to you, allow more like the 12.

This is in an ideal world. If you don’t have a full 12 weeks, don’t worry – just get started and do what you can.

Preparing Your Body for Ski Season Workout

This workout will focus on three major outcomes, all of which are very important for skiers…

  1. Improving strength of the quads and glutes.
  2. Developing the shock absorbing capabilities on the knee.
  3. Strengthening the core and lower back.

Do this workout twice per week, adding it around your normal training.

Weeks 1-4

Weeks 5-8

Weeks 9-12

These workouts will take around 30-40 minutes each and will be physically very demanding at first. Before each one make sure you perform a warm up (link to our previous warm up blog post in the archives) and complete each rep carefully and with good form.

Pick a weight you can manage safely for all the reps, but you should reach fatigue by the last couple of reps each time.

Aim to do the workouts 2-3 times per week, in and around your normal training. You’ll be fully prepared for ski season if you do this for at least 4 weeks before you head out on the trip. Remember through, the longer you spend preparing, the better conditioned you’re going to be for the skiing trip!

Skiing Season Preparation: Concluded

Training for skiing may seem overkill for many, but making sure you go on your trip fit, strong and having given yourself the best possible chance of avoiding injury will give you peace of mind and will make you a better skier. Win-win!

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