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Whilst skiing can be enjoyed by everyone, irrespective of ability, age and strength, it is always advisable to try to get yourself into reasonable shape before you head for the snow.. Of course you should try and maintain your fitness levels throughout the year (this helps you look good on the beach or on the piste!); try to get in at least 20 uninterrupted minutes a week of aerobic exercise (running, cycling, swimming, skipping etc) in order to build a healthy heart.
You should also do some muscle building – nothing too onerous you want to look like James Bond, not Charles Atlas – so use light weights (preferably after receiving suitable instruction from a trainer) and try to do three to six sets of 20 repetitions on each exercise. Remember it is better to use light weights and do the exercise properly, that go for heavier weights and get it wrong!
You should always warm up for at least 15 minutes before you start your training (or before you ski!).
If you have a medical condition, or any type of injury you should always seek expert advice from your doctor or Physio before you undertake any exercise.
Warming up your muscles before exercise helps to prevent injury. You may want to try gently running on the spot for five minutes or six minutes just to get the blood flowing as this will warm and relax your muscles. Some gentle stretching will then prepare them for a more vigorous work out.
Your warm up stretches should what are known as ‘static’ stretches. This means that you should not ‘bounce’, strain or get breathless – simply stretch.
For best results you should hold each stretch for around 10 seconds, feeling the stretch in the muscles you are working. Because your back and knees are especially vulnerable when skiing, you should ensure you focus on these in particular.
Now that you have warmed up, and lulled yourself into a false sense of security, it is time to get the heart pumping a bit. However you must be careful not to overdo it at first, break yourself in gently… that way you will enjoy it more, and be able to measure your progress more accurately.
As you did in the warm up, you should aim for quality rather than quantity. If an exercise is too difficult, reduce the number of repetitions, and build up gradually as you get stronger. If you feel any pain – stop! At first, just complete one circuit – building up the number of circuits as you get stronger until you can do at least three circuits in your 20 minute workout period. Try to get someone to be your ‘training buddy’ as this makes it easier to count your repetitions and time your rest periods – you can also introduce an element of competition to spur you both on!
So now that you have completed your circuit (s) and you are feeling pleased with yourself, it is time to Cool Down – that doesn’t mean heading off to the bar or Après Ski area!
You should always round off each session with the same stretching exercises you used for the warm up. There are lots of technical reasons why you should do this, but the most important one is that if you stretch out properly in your cool down, you will help to stop your muscles aching the next day!
Do not rush your cool down – because your muscles are nice and warm, you should be able to stretch that little bit further than you did in your warm up. However do not try to overstretch because it is very easy to strain the muscle… and that just defeats the whole object!
Keep up these exercises for at least 10 weeks before you are due to go skiing, and you will be surprised at the results, you will feel fitter, be more flexible and so get more enjoyment from your skiing.
70,000 skiers will injure their ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) this year. Don’t be one of them.
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