What First-Time Skiers Should Know: Fitness

So you’re finally taking the plunge and getting on skis this season! Get excited; instead of dreading the cold days ahead, this sport will have you loving winter and wishing for lots of snow — that is, at least, if you do it right your first time. The reasons people don’t give skiing a second try can usually be avoided with some easy prep. The following is part two in a four-part series of how to help ensure maximum fun without the blues (except those that are on the run).

If you read the first part of this series, you’re prepped with the right clothes to keep you warm for a day on the slopes. But preparing your exterior is just the beginning: Toning your muscles for the rigors the sport is equally important.

If you’re wondering which muscle groups to concentrate on, a quick glance at any pro-skier’s physique will give away the answer: well-developed quads, hamstrings, and glutes are all noticeable. Working those areas along with your core will help you conquer the coordination and power necessary to move through turns (and the somewhat awkward stance beginners start with).

So what exercises should the beginner skier look to? Try the following for overall ski conditioning:

What first-time skiers should know: fitness
Photo courtesy of Katie Levy
  • Squats: If you’re just starting out, try normal, body-weight squats. To step it up, try jump squats, weighted jump squats and one-legged squats (check your form!).
  • Lunges: In addition to leg strength, these work on stability. Try both standard lunges, walking lunges and crossover lunges. Up the ante by adding weight.
  • Lateral box jumps: Start with a lower level platform and slower jumps until you can bump each up. Your goal is to improve your quickness and coordination while moving from side to side.
  • Three-point planks: Gain better core stamina by holding one foot off the ground while in a plank position and then alternating to the other foot, increasing hold time as your strength improves.
  • Glute Bridge: Also known as hip bridges. Try the standard version, or modify it by doing the one-leg bridge or adding a medicine ball to increase stability.
  • Sprints: downhill skiing alternates between relatively short periods of aerobic movement and rest periods (think: sitting on the lift). To simulate this, run as hard as you can for 30 seconds, then rest for 30 seconds. Repeat the cycle for 15-30 minutes as you improve.  

You’re fit — what next? Stay tuned for more tips in this series on making the most of your first day on the snow.

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Although she’s a Florida girl, exploration called her away after the final bell of her high school career. Leaving home to journey westward alone, she chased the sun to Utah. Over the years, she was consumed with skiing, climbing, kayaking, mountain biking and getting lost on back roads. But exploration continued to call. After closing her bakery — which funded college courses and adventure — she stored her possessions and hit the road again, on a quest to reach the distant places of North America. For three years she lived in her little Mazda 3 and skied the backcountry of Alaska, slept under the northern lights in the Yukon Territory, ice climbed Colorado's frozen canyons and rock climbed across the continent, photographed Nova Scotia’s coves, backpacked in southern US wildernesses and munched on sugared tamarindo in the jungles of Mexico. But living in a car started to feel limiting, so after seeing the many glories this continent had to offer, she chose the only place fitting for an explorer to spend a lifetime of wild wonder: British Columbia. Dual citizenship in hand, she settled along the Powder Highway in the Selkirks and is now making her home between four walls and deeply wooded mountains. When she's not playing the part of a photojournalist, Gina can be found collaborating with women worldwide through her nonprofit, Outdoor Women's Alliance, and working to improve her outdoor skills and wilderness safety certifications.

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