How to get in shape for the ski season and outlast your friends

Posted By: The Ski Channel on October 11, 2009 12:41 pm

Unless we have the luxury of living in the southern hemisphere for half the year, most of us only get to ski for a few months out of the year. Even in those few months, many of us only get out there a few times. That first run after a year absence tells you many things. Either you’re better than you remember, or you’re in such crummy shape that you’re ready to brew the hot cocoa after 2 or 3 runs. 

Don’t waste that lift ticket!! Here are Paige Waehener’s tips on the best exercise routines you can do in the off season to prepare you for long long days on the slopes (courtesy of


“If you want to get your money’s worth out of that expensive lift ticket, you’ll need plenty of cardio endurance. Most of us hit the slopes and plan on skiing all day, even if it’s been months or years since we last skiied. By afternoon, you’re so tired that you lose focus. And this is often when injuries and accidents happen.

To prepare your heart and body for long-term skiing, your cardio program should include 3 to 5 days each week of your favorite activity (the best for skiing include running, stairmaster, step aerobics, elliptical trainer and rollerblading). Try to have a variety of workouts lasting from 20 to 45 minutes. As you get closer to your trip, you can also add time to one of your workouts so that you have one long workout each week. Below is a sample schedule of workouts, just to give you some ideas. These are just examples, so feel free to make your own schedule.

Workout 1: Interval training, 20 to 30 minutes
Workout 2: Medium-pace workout, 40 minutes
Workout 3: Short, intense workout, 20 minutes
Workout 4: Medium-pace workout, 45 minutes
Workout 5: Long, slow workout, 60 minutes


What makes skiing such a great exercise is that is uses all of your muscle groups. However, some muscles are used more than others. Those are the ones you want to concentrate on when it comes to your strength workouts. Skiing involves:

  1. Quadriceps. Probably the most used muscle in skiing are the muscles of the quads. These muscles hold you in position as you ski and they also provide protection for your knees. Great exercises for the quads include squats and lunges.
  2. Hamstrings and Glutes. When skiing downhill, you typically hold your body in a flexed position — meaning you’re leaning forward from the hips. This requires great strength from your hamstrings and glutes as they help stabilize your body. Work your hams and glutes with deadlifts or hamstring rolls.
  3. Inner and Outer Thighs. Your inner thighs work like crazy to keep your skis together. Your outer thighs keep your body stable and help you steer. Work these muscles with side lunges, inner thigh squeezes and leg lifts. 
  4. Calves. Because your knees are bent as you ski, your calves (specifically the soleus) help you stay upright so you don’t fall over (your ski boots help too). You can work this muscle by doing calf raises.
  5. Abs and Back. Because you’re in a flexed position, bent over, your back has to work like a maniac to hold your body in that position. Your abs help in that endeavor while also protecting your spine. Your lats get involved as you ski on a flat surface or uphill, using your poles for leverage. Work these muscles with exercises like bicycles, woodchops, back extensions and dumbbell rows.
  6. Arms. Along with your back, arms help push off with your poles while stabilizing your shoulder joints. Be sure to work your biceps and triceps.”