How To Prepare for the Perfect Ski Holiday

Skiing is a winter sport which involves sliding or gliding on snow-covered slopes with your feet fixed in one position on a set of skis. There are many different types of skiing; Alpine (downhill) and Nordic (cross-country) skiing are the two most common.

If you are new to skiing, your primary goals should include:

  1. Staying upright
  2. Avoiding injury
  3. Having fun!

Whether you are a seasoned skier or an absolute beginner, it is important that you are prepared for your holiday so that you get the best out of your time on the slopes and avoid common injuries that could have been prevented.

If you prepare well for your holiday you will:

  1. Have less lactic acid build up, meaning less muscle burn and fatigue
  2. Improve your sense of balance and coordination
  3. Increase your confidence


1. Cardiovascular Endurance

Practicing aerobic fitness will improve your body’s ability to deliver oxygen to your muscles which means you will be able to ski for longer with less pain afterwards. This will also help you to recover faster from day to day.

  • Cross trainer
  • Bike
  • Stepping machine

2. Strength

There are three different types of strength training:

  • Isometric: Your muscles stay the same length under tension (e.g. your abdominals when doing a plank)
  • Concentric: Your muscles shorten under tension (e.g. bicep curls)
  • Eccentric: Your muscles lengthen under tension (e.g. your calf muscles as you run downhill)

While skiing involves all three types of muscle contractions, in comparison with most sports that primarily use concentric strength, skiing requires a lot of eccentric muscle activity. This means that if your training is focused on explosive, high powered concentric exercises, your training may not be as effective.

Sample Exercises;

  • Side Lunges with medicine ball
  • Single leg squats
  • Squats with resistance band
  • Plie squat with heel raises
  • Deadlifts
  • Straight arm flexion and extension

3. Balance

Because the act of skiing is basically a controlled slide down a slippery surface, your balance should play a huge role in your pre-skiing preparation.

By adding instability training to your gym session, you will improve your neuromuscular motor patterning before ever stepping onto the slopes, which means there is a greater chance that you won’t fall down.

Sample Exercises;

  • Squat on BOSU ball with weights above
  • Squat on BOSU ball with weights either side
  • Warrior pose holds
  • *incorporate upper and lower limb movements to increase difficulty

4. Core strength

‘The core’ is an elusive term that refers to the system of muscles and nerves that help to support the area around the lower spine, hips and pelvis.
We often use the term ‘kinetic chain’ to explain the link between muscles, nerves and joints as they act together to produce movement.

In skiing, our kinetic chain incorporates our feet, legs, hips, torso, shoulders, arms and hands.

The core helps to transfer forces and momentum in the body as we move our limbs, so the stronger the core, the more movement and force we can produce with our limbs meaning that you will be stronger and faster on the slopes.

Sample Exercises;

  • Bridge on stability ball
  • Single Leg Bridge on stability ball
  • Side curl-ups
  • Shoulder Bridge, alternating legs

5. Flexibility
Optimum muscle flexibility is important for injury prevention and maximising strength and movement. You should remember to include a dynamic warm-up before your gym or ski session and a flexibility programme as part of your cool-down.

Sample warm-up:
Light aerobic exercise e.g. walk, bike, cross trainer 5 mins, low intensity, low resistance

Sample dynamic stretches:

  • Rolling shoulders
  • Move head up & down, left & right, look over either shoulder
  • Walk and every few steps
    – Reach to touch each toe to stretch hamstrings and calves; hold for 8 seconds
    – Pull heel up behind to stretch front of thigh; hold for 8 seconds
    – Step out to the side with one leg and lean towards that leg, stretching the inside thigh muscles on the opposite leg; hold for 8 seconds


  • Gluteal muscles
  • Hamstrings
  • Quadriceps
  • Abdominal muscles
  • Shoulder muscles
  • Calf muscles

What should my workout look like?

  1. Cardiovascular Endurance – At least 30 mins of moderate to high intensity workouts five days per week.
  2. Flexibility – Dynamic warm-up before activity. Stretches after activity.
  3. Strength – Three days per week
  4. Balance – Three days per week
  5. Core – Three days per week
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