Preparing for the slopes- TruBe Trainer Sandy Rowe
If you’ve never had the opportunity to ski, you’re in for a treat!
Skiing is a great workout on your whole body, which also requires good mobility. A pair of ski boots weights between 3-5kg and that’s just moving around the resort. Add in the g-forces as you ski and you’ll need to make sure your legs are prepped for anything you decide to throw at them.
To start with I’ll use low weights and focus on stability within the joints. As your strength improves, so will the weights that you use. Your body will adjust to the load, so that by the time you reach the slopes, you’ll be ready for anything your instructor throws at you. Be that your first green run, progressing to a blue, red or even black run and maybe a few moguls added in for good measure!
At the end of every session I spend at least 10 minutes stretching. This maintains (and can improve your mobility), ensures that you flush out toxins from the body and leaves you feeling relaxed and refreshed from a workout. You can also have a chat to me about sports massage and how this would work for you before and during your time in the mountains.
If you do more than one discipline, please can break them down. As we may split the content depending on the discipline.
If you’re a regular skier, you’ll already know what ‘the burn’ feels like. Usually on the quads, glutes and core, especially if you’re travelling at speed and like to feel the grip on the slopes.
You want to make the most of your time on the slopes (and make it to après ski afterwards!), so it’s critical that you have the leg endurance to last the course of the day. If you’re anything like me, performance is everything when skiing and your body must be strong. The forces applied to your body through each turn, mean that lateral (sideways), rotational and forward focused exercises are key. Taking the body through the whole range of movement available allows your body to move in a similar way while skiing. If you’re looking to euro-carve on the slopes, you’ll need this!
By strengthening the core, this will stop you collapsing at the bottom of the turn and be able to spring into the next turn. The strength you’ll have built in your legs will propel you down the slopes like a gazelle and you’ll feel energised at the end of the day.
I’d recommend at least 4 weeks of training prior to your ski trip, with 2 sessions per week. During week 1 your body will get prepped for exercise (there may be a little muscle soreness). Weeks 2-3 you’ll build on the strength from week 1 and start to see improvements in not only strength, but also flexibility. Week 4 you’ll test your strength, consolidate your skills from the first 3 weeks, mobilise and taper ready for your holiday.
All about the glutes
It’s often said that we do too much sitting, reducing the mobility and strength of this muscle. This can be seen when skiing. If you struggle to grip the ski on the snow, or your knees knock together during the turn, it’s highly likely that the glutes are causing the issue.
Test your reactions
If you’re skiing through moguls, trees or even negotiating a narrower slope, you’ll need to have good reaction times so you can turn as you need. It’s often very busy on the slopes and good reactions can be the difference between staying on your feet and going down.
Balance is key
Walking around with an extra 2kg attached to your feet can offset your balance. Add on the weight of a ski and binding, and you’re looking at 4kg per ski. Add in speed, obstacles (and by that I mean other skiers) and steeps and you need to make sure that under weight, you have the strength to maintain your balance and separate upper from lower body movements.
Two of the key areas I work on with skiers are separation and pivoting. Both of these movements come from the hip and revolve around hip mobility, leg and core strength. These are often overlooked when prepping for skiing in favour of squats and lunges.
How to recover
At least 500ml of water prior to an après beer. It’s often difficult to stop for long periods of time in the mountains, however, at altitude humans lose a greater percentage of hydration. If you are 1-2% dehydrated, your performance decreases by up to 25%. Therefore, while you’re ordering that first beer or mulled wine, ask for a glass of water at the same time.
A minimum of 10 minutes stretching every day. This will maintain the length of your muscles and make you feel less sore the following day.
A good sports massage through the legs. There really is nothing quite like the new leg feeling after a good sports massage. Your legs will be thankful for it the following day. Look at getting this half way through your week or immediately after your trip.
A rest day. This isn’t always possible for everyone, however, half way through the week, think about potentially having a rest day. Trust me, this is easier said than done (and make sure it’s not on the day the new powder lands!), however, your body will thank you for it.
Reduce the risk of injury
Sleep is when our bodies recover from the daily activity, so aim for at least 8 hours of quality sleep every night. By getting in 8 hours of sleep, you’ll avoid stiff and sore muscles, which don’t react as well and can increase your risk of injury.
I know this is a holiday and you want to enjoy it, however, think about keeping your alcohol intake to 1-2 glasses per day. Alcohol is more potent at altitude, inhibits REM sleep (which is the restful part) and also inhibits muscle growth. It can also give you a really sore head the next day, which isn’t much fun on a ski holiday!
Food in the mountains is notoriously nutritiously poor. I’m thinking tartiflette, pizza, cheese, red meat, wine, beer and the list continues. Before you go, think about upping your vegetable intake to help offset the lack of nutritious food available. Similarly, when you return, try to eat a more balanced diet with good vegetables, fruits, white fish and white meat to offset the fat content.
Mountain life usually involves a fair bit of saturated fat (cheese, meat, butter, croissants), so opt for porridge in the mornings. Oats help lower your cholesterol levels (produced by eating saturated fat) and will help keep you on an even kilter. They are also very filling and should keep you going until lunch time calls. Buy fruit at your local supermarket in the mountain and use these as your snacks throughout the day. I’m a big fan of apples and clementines, although the later do tend to get a little squashed throughout the day!
I burn approximately 2,500 calories per day in the mountains. This is approx. 2-300 calories less than I would if I was working as a trainer every day (I’m on my feet all day!), but 6-700 more than if I was sat at a desk every day (that’s a non-training day). So you may need to make sure you have enough fuel with your while you’re travelling around the mountain. Having a few snacks and some water will mean you’re always in a good frame of mind to make those quick reaction decisions. If you’re only out for half the day, this doesn’t mean you can over indulge!
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You are ready to ski. Enjoy!