Snow Sports

Winter is now officially upon us and with snow lying thick on the ground at many of your favourite ski fields, it’s time to indulge in a few snowy winter sports.  If you are a seasoned ski bunny or a frank beginner, hitting the slopes for the first time this season can be a challenge for your body.  Sadly, for many of us, our first trip to the snow can leave us injured as our bodies are underprepared for the rigours of snow sports.  Make sure your trip to the snow doesn’t leave you sidelined by preparing your body before you hit the slopes.

Downhill Skiing

The most traditional and arguably popular of the snow sports, downhill skiing is a favourite amongst ski bunnies the world over.  Although the pros can make skiing look as effortless and graceful as a bird, this sport is physically demanding and can leave your muscles aching if you’re out of practice or just learning.  Downhill skiing is a great cardiovascular workout, particularly targeting your calves, hamstrings and quadriceps, and also boasts benefits to your strength and balance.

Preparation: Before you hit the slopes, it is important to ensure your lower body is strong as this will reduce your risk of injury.  Try adding lunges and single leg squats to your routine to improve both your strength and balance.  Box jumps are another great exercise giving you both a leg strength and cardiovascular workout simultaneously.

Cross Country Skiing

Cross country skiing is often overlooked as it lacks the excitement and speed of downhill skiing.  However, the effort required to propel yourself across relatively flat surfaces is an exceptional way to burn calories giving you a fantastic work out without the risk of spectacular crashes associated with downhill skiing.  If you have to tackle a hill, cross country skiing becomes an excellent workout for your upper body as well as your lower body.

Preparation: To prepare your body for cross country skiing you’ll need to focus on improving your cardiovascular fitness by undertaking aerobic exercise such as running, cycling, roller skating or skipping.  Boxing is another great way to increase your cardiovascular fitness whilst also toning your arms; see if your local gym offers a boxing class.

Snowboarding

Snowboarding, which involves strapping your feet into a board side-by-side and about shoulder width apart, has been steadily increasing in popularity in recent years and now rivals downhill skiing as the most popular snow sport.  As with other snow sports, snowboarding requires strength in the lower body but also relies on core strength for balance and control.  If you’re a beginner you’ll find your arms also get a lot of use, pushing yourself up after falling!

Preparation: If you’re planning on hitting the slopes strapped to a snowboard, you should make sure your core is strong by taking Pilates classes in preparation.  You’ll also benefit from working out your shoulders, tackle 3 sets of push-ups each day building up strength by gradually increasing the number of push-ups in each set.

Ice Skating

Ice skating is a great way to experience winter sports if you don’t have the time or resources to make a trip to a mountain.  Ice skating is a great low-impact cardiovascular workout which will also improve your balance and lower leg strength.  The kids will love ice-skating too and it makes a fun family outing.

Preparation: Prepare for ice skating by strengthening the muscles in your lower body, in particular your gluteal and calf muscles.  Some great exercises to target the gluteal muscles are donkey kicks and bridges.  Calves get a great workout from doing calf raises with the ball of your foot on a ledge or step.

It goes without saying that appropriate clothing and well-fitted gear is essential for all winter sports and if you’re a beginner a lesson with a professional instructor is the best way to learn the basics.  With a little preparation (see the circuit of exercises below), you’ll make the most of the winter season’s sporting activities.

Snow Sport Circuit

  • 10 min warm-up (running, cycling, cross trainer)
  • 10 calf raises
  • 10 push-ups
  • 10 lunges on each leg
  • 30 bicycle crunches
  • 10 box jumps (or tuck jumps)
  • 10 triceps dips
  • 10 single leg squats on each leg
  • 10 bridges
  • Repeat 3 times
  • 5 min cool-down