I’ve been skiing since I was three, so my body is pretty used to everything that can happen on the slopes, but to compete at the highest level, I’ve got to put a lot of work in at the gym.
It’s not just strength, but flexibility too, especially when you’re doing freeski events like big air, slopestyle, and halfpipe. There’s obviously a lot of twisting and turning. Landings alone require your muscles to be strong and supple, not just for when they go right, but also when they go wrong. Balance is important too, and that’s also something you have to work on away from the slopes.
These exercises will help every skier, even if you’re just going for a week-long holiday
Finding time to exercise can be tricky, with competitions taking me all over the world, and I’m also still studying, so have to make time for that too. This is why I’ve got fitness routines that I can do wherever I am – at home, in a hotel room or, if I’m lucky, in a gym.
These exercises will help every skier, even if you’re just going for a week-long holiday, they’ll hopefully mean you don’t come back with everything aching or, worse still, a torn muscle.
One thing to consider, if you’ve not done any exercise for a while, take it easy at first, and warm-up with a brisk walk, or light jog beforehand to get the blood pumping and the muscles moving.
Make these part of your regular routine and they’ll help strengthen the muscles that matter most when you're skiing – quads, glutes and calves, and a strong core, that’s super important.
Your thighs (quads) are probably the hardest-working muscles when you are skiing. Squats are one of the best, not to mention easiest, ways of building strength in your legs using just your own body weight.
- Stand with your legs shoulder-width apart
- Push your hips back
- Bend your knees until your thighs are parallel to the floor
- If your knees are in front of your toes, you are doing it wrong – push those hips back a little more to remedy this
- Stand back up and repeat
- Try to do three to four sets of 20, giving yourself a 60-second rest between sets
Top tip: If you want to make this harder, do the exact same motion but with a weight in each hand.
Take squats to the next level by turning them into squat jumps. Not only will this exercise continue to strengthen your legs, it will also help to develop explosiveness in the quads and glutes – this is known as a plyometric exercise as it combines strength with an explosive move. This will come in handy when it comes to turning on the slopes.
- Start with your feet shoulder-width apart
- Squat down so your thighs are parallel to the floor, then jump high in the air
- Try to do four sets of four with a short break to catch your breath between each set
Top tip: Try to land as softly as you can on your feet to minimise impact.
Sticking on the squat theme, wall squats are absolutely brilliant for building endurance which will help to prevent the burning feeling in your legs on long, tough ski runs.
- Find a nice, clear wall
- Stand with your back resting against the wall
- Move down into your squat position
- Hold the position for as long as you can handle it!
- Try to repeat two to four times with a short break in between each go
Top tip: Keep your knees at a 45-degree angle and feel the burn.
Lunges are great not only for strength but for balance too.
- Start with your feet together
- Step one leg forward and bend down so the front leg forms a right angle. Your back leg should be almost touching the floor
- Try to do 20 repetitions four times with a short rest in between each set
Top tip: Keep your upper body straight, with your shoulders back and relaxed and chin up. Try to keep your core engaged at all times.
You use your core muscles around your lower back and abs a lot more than you would think when skiing, especially when you are turning or taking on more technical terrain.
- Lie flat on the floor, face-down
- Rest your elbows in the floor, push up your hips and rest only on your elbows and toes
- Hold the position for 60 seconds
- Turn this into a 'side plank' by lifting yourself onto one elbow and the side of your foot. This will work your oblique muscles. Try it once on either side.
Top tip: Don't let your hips dip. Your body should form a relatively straight line when planking.