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The VIP SKI Fitness Guide & Index

Skiing is a popular activity not just as a form of exercise but also as a way of maintaining fitness and increasing your chances of enjoying long-term health benefits. To get the most out of skiing and maximise the afterglow feeling, you’ll need to carry out the proper preparation and recovery.

To provide support to skiing beginners, we’ve created this comprehensive fitness guide which offers tips and reiterates the importance of each stage of the skiing experience.

Preparation

Above all else, skiing is meant to be a fun experience so it’s important to only take to the mountains when you feel comfortable. With this in mind, the best way to prepare is to begin by building your fitness and taking ski lessons to learn the necessary skills.
If you want to be at your very best whilst on the slopes, we’ve got a few tips to put you in a prime position for an unforgettable experience.



Physical preparation

Being regularly active and physically fit, even to a very basic degree, will give you a significant advantage. Exercising before your ski trip will help build endurance and improve your mobility ready for the slopes.

Frequency of exercise

Whilst any exercise you can do will contribute to improving your fitness, it’s recommended to aim for around 12 weeks of regular exercise in the build up to your trip. We’re not saying that if you stick to this regime you’ll be a gold medal skier, as your ability on the slopes will be made up of not just physical ability but skill and experience too.

During your workout

If you’re looking for tips on how to maximise your time by focusing on key muscle groups that are going to help you on the slopes, here are a few ideas that our team, as regular skiers, shared:

Quadriceps - These are going to help you maintain the classic ‘knees bent’ skiing stance. To work on your quads, introduce squats into your workout and find a number of repetitions/sets which work for you.

Calves - Your calf muscles are going to be constantly in use when navigating the slopes. Building your calf muscles will help but getting them used to contracting and extending will help increase your range of movement. Calf raises and jump rope exercises are a great way to work out your calves without placing too much stress on the muscle group.

Core - Deep within your abdominals and back are your core muscles, which are going to help you maintain balance and posture when skiing. The best way to target these muscles is with sit-ups and planks - which also help boost muscle endurance.

Cardiovascular - Cardio fitness is related to how well your heart and lungs can supply oxygen to your body. Whilst skiing, hiking up slopes, and carrying your equipment around the resort, cardiovascular fitness will be extremely important. Walking, jogging, and running are great ways of steadily building your cardio fitness, whilst rowing will help you step up the tempo a little.



Mental preparation

For newcomers to skiing, it’s completely normal to feel anxious about taking to the slopes. It’s important to remember though, that this feeling likely only stems from the unknown and once you know what to expect, these feelings should be relieved.

Build confidence with practice

Practising skiing should be your first course of action as it’s the only way to get comfortable with all aspects of the sport. Figuring out how to use your equipment, how to position your body and how to manoeuvre whilst out on the snow are all things you learn through practice.
An experienced instructor will be able to give you all the tips and support you need to ease into life on the slopes. The more you practise and build your fitness, the more confident you’re likely to become.

Get comfortable with the environment

Ski season can be busy, and for beginners, taking to mountains with large groups of strangers may seem scary on the face of it. However, once you’re on the slopes, you’ll find that many skiers are very mindful of personal space and will be happy to give any beginners the space they need to enjoy some great runs.

Activity

Physical activity is one of the best ways to keep fit, as it combines the enjoyment of a competitive activity with exercise, often to the point where you forget you’re even working out! Also, as we’ve mentioned above, if you put in hours to increase your fitness, you’re going to be in the best position to hit the ground running when taking to your skis or many other snow-related activities for that matter.

Now, based on the physical preparation recommended for skiing, it’s clear that it’s one of the best activities for keeping fit. There are many other sports and activities which allow for these high levels of physical exertion too, but which activities offer the most physical benefits?

Activities to keep fit

Using our own research, we created a fitness index to evaluate how beneficial each sporting activity can be and the impact it can have on your body.

Overall, skiing ranked the highest, with a considerable score in each category. Closely followed by running, it's interesting to see how these activities stack up - and how many of them you can do at our ski resorts!

Fitness index


ACTIVITYCalories burned per hour (up to)Calorie burn scoreMain muscle groups workedMuscle group scorePromoting balance scoreOutdoor wellbeing scoreTOTAL SCORERANKING POSITION
Skiing (Cross country brisk)61214Abdominal muscles, glutes, quads, hamstrings, adductors, feet/ankles, biceps, and triceps
9810411
Running (6mph 10 min mile)68015Quads, glutes, hamstrings, calves, gastrocnemius, hips
569352
Skiing (Alpine,
intense with
challenging
moves)
60011Quadriceps, Hamstrings, Glutes, core, abdominal
5810343
Rock climbing5849Lats, biceps, forearms, core, calves
677294
Snow shoeing5447Quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes and calves, arms, shoulders, back
759285
Football (competitive)61213Quadriceps, glutes and hamstrings
455276
CrossFit60011Glutes, hamstrings, quads, back, calves, core, triceps
871277
Running club60612Quads, gastrocnemius
536268
Callisthenics
(intense)
5446Full body
1082269
Cycling (12-
13mph)
5445Quadriceps and hamstrings, gastrocnemius and soleus in the calf
5682410
Circuit training5478Full body
10412311
Barre4151Full body
10912112
Tennis5444Abdominals, obliques, latissimus dorsi, and erector spinae
4662013
Spinning60010Quads, hamstrings, hip flexors and glutes, core
4411914
Pilates5402Abdominal, gluteal, and paraspinal muscles
4931815
Swimming (casual)4763Triceps, biceps, quadriceps, and hamstrings
7211316

How did we create the fitness index?

To create our fitness index, we found out the calories burned for each activity to find a calorie burn score from 1 to 15. By looking at which main muscle groups were worked by each activity we were able to create a muscle group score between 1 to 10 based on how much of the body is used in each activity.

A balance score was determined by ranking how much balance each activity required between 1 and 10. The outdoor wellbeing score looked at the likelihood of an activity taking part outdoors with a score from 1 to 10. We combined these totals to give us a total score which gave us our ranking positions.

Recovery

As you can see from the fitness index, all of these activities work multiple muscle groups to help you burn a considerable number of calories, which subjects your muscles to a large amount of stress as a result. This is a normal part of exercising, and pushing your muscles to the limit is the most effective way to see growth.

With this in mind, the most important thing you can do after partaking in these activities is put time into recovery. This will help your muscles repair themselves, reduce the chance of injury, and allow your body to recuperate energy.

Physical recovery

Allowing your body to recover and taking the necessary steps to support the process can allow you to enjoy benefits such as reduced muscle discomfort, which in turn can help you get back out on the slopes quicker.

Massage

Not only is a massage extremely relaxing, but it also has some great physical benefits which directly aid your muscles. Massaging muscles can help reduce pain and speed up recovery whilst also preventing delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). A massage isn’t essential to recovery, but it can go a long way in reducing muscle tightness and reducing the build-up of lactic acid.

Hydrate

Staying hydrated will ensure that your body is able to deliver adequate nutrients which can result in increased muscle performance. Maintaining good hydration levels is also important for preventing injury, as your body will be able to lubricate your joints more effectively.

Mental recovery

Although physical recovery is extremely important, it’s important not to neglect mental recovery as skiing requires a high-level of focus, especially when you’re just starting out. Quick decision-making, problem-solving and remaining on high alert are all things your brain will experience when gliding down the slopes.

Relax

Not taking time to relax can lead to higher levels of stress and agitation, which is the last thing you want to experience on a ski holiday! When staying at a ski resort, jumping in a hot tub, enjoying a nice meal or cosying up by a log fire are some of the best ways to kick back and relax.

Sleep

Whilst après ski is tempting, it’s important that you get enough sleep. Not only does sleep give you a chance to rest your mind, it will allow your body to recuperate too, making it arguably the most important thing you can do for recovery.



Afterglow

As skiing ranks first on our fitness index, it should come as no surprise that you’ll be able to enjoy both short and long-term positive effects of a rewarding physical and mental experience.

Short-term afterglow

Endorphins

Any type of exercise will release endorphins, which is a chemical in your brain that makes you feel good. Essentially this is the body’s way of positively reinforcing the act of physical activity.
It’s this feeling which is most commonly referred to as the afterglow and one which provides near-instant satisfaction.

Long-term health benefits

Physical fitness aside, there are some studies which suggest skiing can have long-term positive impact on your wellbeing, and more specifically, the brain.

Reduced risk of disease

This study by Alzheimer's Research & Therapy, summarised in this article by The Fisher Center for Alzheimer's Research Foundation, details how research into the mental health benefits of skiing has had positive results. In the study, compared with a group of non-skiers, the skiers had a 50% reduced risk of developing vascular dementia.
It was also found that the ski group also had a lower risk of heart disease, depression, and Parkinson’s disease. This study carried out by ScienceDirect, also supports the research that skiing is associated with a lower risk of depression long-term.

*Disclaimer - All information on this page has been taken from external sources and referenced where relevant. VIP SKI do not claim to be medical experts and all activities listed on this page should be carried out at your own risk.

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