Training for Skiing

Training for Skiing

How to train for skiing

Skiing is an extreme sport and not one which you can practice every day unless you’re lucky enough to live in the mountains. It demands a strong core and legs to absorb bumps and good hand-eye coordination for turns and quick reaction time.

Making the time to exercise and implement a ski-specific training plan can make the difference between a great ski trip and a painful one. This guide will explain how and when to train to ensure your body is in the best shape possible for the slopes.


If you are lucky enough to take a ski trip once or twice a year, you might think ski-specific training is a waste of time but that couldn’t be further from the truth.

Let’s face it, ski trips are expensive and it would be unfortunate to spend the trip in agony because your body isn’t well-conditioned enough. If you want to ski from first lift until last, it’s an eight-hour ski day.

Additionally, training for ski touring requires both strength and stamina. The group is only as strong as its weakest member. So if you want to last the whole day and make the most of your skiing, working on your fitness level is crucial.

Another important reason to train for skiing is to avoid injuries. Snowsports put the body through certain repetitive movements and if it’s not accustomed to them, problems can arise. When muscles, joints and ligaments are pushed beyond the range they are trained in, they can tear or break.

One of the most common skier injuries is a torn ACL, the tissue that connects the thighbone to the shinbone. Catching an edge on skis or snowboards is common, and can result in this type of damage. If ski legs are tired after a long day on the slopes, delicate tendons are not so well protected.

Strength and flexibility training plus cardio can all help towards protecting the body from injury. On the slopes, you are also at the mercy of the skills of everyone around you, a factor which is completely out of your control. Of course, not all injuries are preventable but a strong body is more resilient against force (or a crash) than a weak one.


There are lots of different ways to train for skiing, but it is important not to overdo it. Listen to your body and if an exercise doesn’t feel right for you, modify it or miss it out. Make sure you warm up properly before you work out by doing ten minutes of cardio. This could be jogging outside, star jumps or a short session on the treadmill.



The areas which are worked hardest during skiing are your quads, glutes, hips and hamstrings. But it will take more than a few squats to prepare you for the slopes.

Although these are important, the whole leg plays a part in keeping you stable as you roll over uneven surfaces and adapt to changes in incline. Here is a selection of leg exercises which will help optimise your time on the slopes.


To control the descent down the mountain, your body must be responsive and ready for sudden bursts of movement. This exercise works the quads, glutes and hamstrings.

Start with the legs hip-width apart and legs slightly bent. Move your weight onto one leg, bend that knee and raise the opposite one off the ground. Make a small jump to the side and land on the opposite leg with control. Continue jumping from side to side with arms making a running movement, matching opposite arm to leg for balance. Continue this movement for a total of 20 jumps.


This exercise is good for your glutes, quads, hamstrings, abdominals and core. It does not need a lot of space and can be done on the spot by alternating legs instead of moving forward.

Starting with your feet slightly apart, step forward and lower yourself into a lunge with your back leg at a 90-degree angle to the ground.

Your front knee should also be at this angle. While lunging, rotate your body in the direction of the front leg. Your arms should be at chest height. Pushing on your front leg, step forward onto the other leg, repeating the same movement on the opposite side and twisting your body. Repeat this 10 times on each side.


No props are needed for this exercise and it does not require much space. Your ski stance works the glutes, quads and hamstrings so strong legs are essential. This simple routine will build the strength you need for skiing comfortably.

Starting with the feet shoulder-width apart, bend the knees and stretch the arms out in front for balance. Then push the hips back and sit as if there was a chair behind you, keeping the knees behind the toes and looking forward. Stand back up and step one foot back, lowering it into a reverse lunge.

Your knee should be at a 90-degree angle to the floor and both should be in line with your body, not facing inwards. Bring the back leg in for another squat then repeat the squat lunge with the other leg. Repeat this ten times for each leg.


The knees are very important in skiing and hip strength helps to prevent knees from pointing inward. The hip muscles and glutes can be improved with this exercise, which should in turn benefit the knees. This can be modified by holding on to a chair or not taking the toes off the ground.

Start with the legs together and move your weight onto one leg. Bend forward from the waist, keeping the supporting leg straight and allowing the back leg to rise up behind you slightly.

From there, open up the hips and turn (rotate) away from the standing leg slightly, keeping the body in one line. Rotate back and lower the back leg. Repeat this on each side 10-15 times.


Strong inner thigh muscles are needed to point both skis in the same direction. This exercise requires a foam block, rolled-up blanket or light object of a similar size.

Start lying on the floor with your knees bent. Place the object between the knees and keep the hands flat on either side. Engage the glutes to squeeze the object and slowly lift the pelvis to form a straight diagonal line, or bridge, from your head to your knees.

Strengthen this posture by pushing down on the feet. Slowly lower and repeat 20 times, being careful not to over-arch the back or dip to either side.


A strong core is important for keeping you upright and supporting dynamic movement. The transverse abdominals and obliques are worked while skiing, so here are a few exercises to condition them.


The plank engages large groups of muscles across the entire body and can be done anywhere using a yoga mat. It uses not just the abdominals but also the legs and shoulders, making it a short, sharp full-body toning exercise.

Lie face down on the mat with your feet less than hip-width apart. Flex your feet so that your toes touch the mat and place your palms on either side of your shoulders. Take a deep breath and push up so that your arms and straight.

Your body should make a straight line and your elbows should stay locked to keep you stable. Do not make a tent shape with the bottom raised, or let the front hang down. Maintain a straight line with the body. Simply keep the neck in a neutral position instead of tucking the chin or looking forward.

If you experience any pain, lower the knees and sit back to get out of the plank. Try to hold the plank as long as you can for up to a minute, then lower the knees. A modification to make this easier is to keep the knees lowered at all times.


The core muscles can be challenged further with a forearm plank which starts in the same position as the high plank. In this variation, your hands are balled into fists and your forearms stay completely on the floor, pushing up into a plank shape with elbows directly below your shoulders. Hands can be clasped if this is more comfortable.


Having a good balance is critical for skiing comfortably and tackling uneven terrain. Here is a selection of stability exercises to prepare you for snowsports.


This balancing exercise works the hips and hamstrings to promote hip coordination for control of the skis.

Stand with your weight over your left leg and knees slightly bent and imagine you are the centre of a clock. Keep your back straight and extend your right leg towards 12 o’clock, also bending the left leg to allow movement.

Stand up and bring the leg back in, then push it out to the 3, 6 and 9 o’clock positions. Keep your weight centred over your left leg and don’t let the hips move around. Swap to the other leg and do five sets on each side.


Stand with feet hip-width apart and move the weight to the left leg. Raise the left arm straigh up into the air so that it makes a straight line with the leg. Gently lean forward with the toes pointing towards the floor, keeping the pelvis facing forward and not pivoting.

Lean over as far as your leg will allow whilst staying balanced and maintaining the straight line shape. Return to standing and repeat ten times on each side.


Start in the same position as the Forward T but with arms holding weights. Have a micro- bend in the knee and slowly lean forward, raising the back leg and lowering the weight. Repeat this 15 times on each side.


A good level of endurance will mark the difference between your ability to smash piste after piste and the need to stop for a coffee break. Getting your heart pumping by jogging or hiking is a good way to increase your endurance.

It doesn’t need to be a sprint, but carving out regular time for a long, slow run or brisk walk will elevate your stamina. In the backcountry, low endurance can be dangerous for you and your group. It’s essential to train to the required level recommended by the guide for your chosen trip otherwise you pose a risk to yourself and everyone else. Fatigue can impair judgement and end up being fatal.


Regularly moving muscles through their full range of motion while strength training will increase flexibility which is important for skiing. Incorporating some yoga or a simple 10- minute flexibility session into your daily routine is a good start.

Spend ten minutes moving each joint through its range of motion: starting at the feet and ankles, make circles or any gentle movement. From there, work your way up to the hips and shoulders and finish at the neck. Doing this regularly keeps the joints accustomed to these movements and keeps them primed for snowsports.


Ideally, you should start implementing a routine six to eight weeks ahead of the ski season. Ease in by simply taking the stairs instead of the lift and brisk walking. Strength exercises should be done two to three times per week if you want to see a noticeable difference in performance.

To increase overall stamina, choose an activity you enjoy such as running or hiking and do this two to three times per week too. Your heart and lungs will thank you for it and the more energy you have, the more you can enjoy the pistes.

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