Limbering up for a brilliant ski

LIKE many a busy office worker, I failed to prepare for my recent ski holoday. And I’m paying the price with a stiffness of gait and inelegance of posture that simply can’t be attractive.

Don’t make the same mistake. Here are some ways to limber up so that you’re able to walk from slopes to après ski bar and once the fun’s over, up the front door stairs, without too much pain. Obviously, the better your ski muscles are prepared, the better you’ll ski. If you’re one of the many flocking to the slopes for February half term, you have ample time to prepare. The more time, the better you’ll feel.

Here, City A.M. Fitness and Health columnist Laura Williams walks you through six ways to get ready.

Reduce risk of falls, improve posture and enhance performance by working on your core. This Swiss ball exercise is perfect for working your core in a rotational-type movement, as you’ll be doing when you’re skiing. Place your hands shoulder width apart on a fitness ball. From here, walk backwards until legs are extended, with body in a straight position. Then slowly bring one knee towards the chest – by creating this instability you’ll be forced to use your core muscles to keep your balance and maintain a straight spine.

Cardiovascular or aerobic exercise will help to build the much needed endurance required for exercising all day at high altitudes. A mixture of stairclimbing, running and the crosstrainer (basically, anything where you’ll be on your feet) will work wonders for ski fitness. Try a combination of steady aerobic “plodding” (where your heart rate isn’t too high and you can still hold a conversation), with interval style training where you alternate between higher-intensity bursts (e.g. a sprint) and low intensity ones (e.g. walking). Aim for at least three sessions of over 30 minutes a week if you’re looking to build endurance.

Try the squat ‘n’ sweep for strengthening all lower body muscles and most upper body ones too. Stand with feet hip-width apart and hold a medicine ball or dumbbell. Squat as low as you can (keeping knees behind toes and abs contracted) and touch the ball to the floor. Press through the heels to rise back up while sweeping the weight overhead. Repeat. Do two sets of 20, every other day.

Want to make use of time in the office? Inadequately conditioned quad muscles (front of thigh) can cause early slope fatigue. Try doing this knee extension exercise a couple of times a day at your desk: Sit on the edge of your chair with knees bent before slowly lifting both legs off the ground (you may need to hold on to sides of chair). Hold both legs in the air for a count of five, lower and repeat. Do a total of 10 reps.

Work on strength for starters. Google these top skiing moves to add to your workout repertoire: lunges on a Swiss ball; deadlifts with a row; bi-lateral lunges and BOSU squat jumps. Concentrate on some plyometric moves too (explosive, jumping-style moves that help to develop hip and leg power). A good skiing plyometric move is the box-jump (don’t do if you have any joint problems, or aren’t used to training) and the BOSU jump mentioned above. Don’t forget your flexibility either: this will enable your body to get used to the sudden stretching movements a good run will involve, and will also prevent joints from taking too much of a hit – concentrate in particular on calves, quads and hamstrings.

Not a great deal can be done if you’ve left it the week before to train – you don’t want to go hell for leather and wind up with lower body meltdown before you’ve even checked in. Do the desk prep quadriceps exercise from above the week before, and keep stretching out all your lower body muscles ensuring they’re as flexible as possible before you get going. Start slowly too; try not to rush into any explosive moments in particular. Lastly, maybe book a massage on arrival as a precautionary measure.