HOW TO GET IN SHAPE FOR YOUR SKI VACATION
Your dream ski trip is booked. Now, despite your best intentions, you see that date quickly approaching and aren’t quite in the ski shape you had hoped you’d be in to maximize fun and vertical feet skied. While I don’t know of any miraculous workout or pill that will instantly get you ready for that trip, there are some things you can do to prep for your upcoming vacation or ski season in general.
I spent over 20 years ski patrolling in Utah and the first (and most common) complaint I heard from out of town visitors was problems with altitude. Coming from sea level to 10,000 feet is no easy feat for your body and it will make you pay for it in various ways, from headaches and nausea, and to more serious complications that may require medical help. Unfortunately, the only real way to acclimate is to spend time at altitude. Luckily, there are a few steps you can take to help acclimate quicker once you arrive. First, avoid the temptation to rush straight out the door and onto the slopes upon arrival. Allow your body time to acclimate and adjust. Hydration is a huge part of acclimation, and unfortunately, alcohol is the enemy of both hydration and acclimation. Take it easy the first day, hydrate and do your best to get a good night’s sleep. All of these things will help you acclimate quicker to help you fully enjoy your entire vacation.
What can you do to get yourself ready for your ski trip or ski season? From a fitness perspective, the three key elements I look at are:
- Injury proofing,
- Stamina (local and systemic endurance) and
- Core strength.
Injury proofing is simply preparing your body for the rigors of the activity you want to perform. For stamina, we look at your overall endurance – the ability to get that last run or two in without fatigue (fatigue leads to injury) and local endurance – extending the time you can ski without your legs feeling like they’re going to explode. Core strength (when I say core, I’m referring to all muscles groups from your armpits to your hips, not just your abs) is critical to balance, stability and anti-rotation.
The more time you have before your vacation, the better prepared you will become. For this particular fitness program, you need essentially one hour of work, three days a week with one longer 90 to 120-minute effort on the weekend. It repeats each week with an approximate 20% increase in volume. You could theoretically repeat it indefinitely, although at some point you would start to see diminishing returns based on how fit you were to begin with.
Ideally, you would train Monday, Wednesday and Friday with your longer effort on Saturday, but none of these days will be so hard you can’t train back to back days. I would, however, caution against three days in a row. On off days, supplemental work like yoga, pilates or low-impact cardio (walking, cycling, swimming) will only benefit you more. The rule here is don’t work so hard on off days you have to sandbag the workout day.
Without specific one-on-one evaluation, it’s a little tricky to generalize the starting weights, but we’ll do our best. If it’s too easy, add weight, if it’s too hard, do less. At Gym Jones, we are more interested in doing the total reps/sets with good form than less or poor-quality reps at higher weights.