City Ski-Fit – get piste ready, the easy way

05 Sep 2016

The words ski fitness always result in a collective groan among my peer group. They all love to ski. But they don’t want to hit the gym months in advance of their ski holiday, dynamically lunging themselves all over the place before cross-training themselves into oblivion.


Ski Fitness

The reality is if you spend most of your week working at a desk your body is not going to be piste-ready. Sore muscles, strained backs, fatigue or fitness-related falls all impact on your well-deserved ski break.

So is there another way to get ski-fit that does not feel like you are enlisting yourself on a Tough Mudder Bootcamp? Is there a way to transition from your city life to mountain life that fits around your already hectic schedule?

We’ve been trawling the internet this week to bring you some workout ideas that will fit seamlessly into your daily routine. No lunging necessary.

What is ski fit?

When we talk about ski-fit we are talking about ensuring the various parts of your body used during skiing, are up for the job. These can be broken down into 4 main areas for us to focus on.

    The Legs: Quads at the front of the thighs, glutes at the back of the thighs.

    Skiing involves short bursts of intense energy so its important to get your heart pumping prior to hitting the pistes. 

    Our stomach muscles get used a surprising amount on the piste, either falling over as a beginner or as an advanced skier heading off into more challenging off-piste terrain. Beginner or expert, you can’t avoid the requirement for good abdominals.

    This is your body’s positional sense and is particularly important for skiing in bad visibility. It's also one of the best preventative measures when it comes to injury.

One minute workouts at home

Why not get yourself in shape while enjoying a bit of TV or movie downtime? These one-minute work outs are perfect for incorporating into your downtime at home.


  • Stand on one leg with your eyes closed for two minutes twice a day.

  • Add some small movements while you do it, such as little knee bends.

  • Take another exercise or activity, like cleaning your teeth, do it on one leg. This also engages the core and strengthens the glutes.


  • Hopping & Skipping: Simple things like hopping and skipping strengthen legs, engages the core, improves your balance and gets you used to relying on one leg which is incredibly important for skiing. Skip or hop for one minute. Rest and repeat.

  • Jumping: Use a low bench or a line of tape on the ground and jump from side to side over it with for minute long bursts and repeat. Start with a single leg hop, switching feet, and vary it with double leg hops landing one foot after the other. The motion mirrors what you’ll be doing on the slopes and will work your hips, thighs, and lower leg muscles with the movements. You can also progress to jumping up and down stairs.


If you’re not already exercising regularly, it’s a good idea to begin a simple programme
of aerobic activity around two months to six weeks before you go
Graham Bell


Step ups:

Step-ups strengthen your quads and glutes, improve your range of motion and they are also good for balance and coordination.
Stand facing a box, step or chair and place your right foot on the flat surface. Step your left leg up to meet your right. Make sure you push into your right foot and use the muscles in the right leg to propel you (rather pushing off your left foot). Step down with your left leg, then your right.
Complete three sets of 10 to 12 reps and then switch legs.


The Clam: 

Lie on your side with your hips and knees in a skiing position. Keep your ankles together and your hips steady as you lift your top knee, like a clam opening and closing. You should feel the muscle working on the outside of your buttock. Repeat 30 times. Progress up to practising the same movement while in a standing position, so you can learn to use those muscles while skiing.


Plank exercises are perfect for core stability and perfect for the home.

  • Balance on your forearms in a push-up position, use the strength of your abdominals and glutes to keep your hips raised to shoulder height, taking extra care not to sag in the midsection.
  • For the side plank, shift from a plank position onto one hand, with the other either extended into the air or on your hip and your feet stacked.
  • Complete three sets (one regular plank and one on each side) of 30- to 60-second holds.


Are you able to ditch the car and cycle to work? Could you lose your oyster card in favour of thigh power to get about? Maybe take the occasional Boris Bike. Cycling is a great way to develop lots of the muscles required for skiing and tick the cardio box. If you don’t have access to a bike but you do have access to a gym, the cross-trainer is also a great option.


Whichever sports you enjoy, be it running, cycling or something else – start working at a high intensity. This means above the comfort level where you’re able to talk to someone next to you. Do short, sharp bursts of around a minute or two minutes, recover and then repeat. This is similar to the exertion of skiing off piste.


Skiing is a sport. In fact, it’s an extreme sport. There are very few similar activities where we would turn up poorly prepared, possibly hungover, tired, or having done no other physical preparation.

So become an exercise opportunist, get off the bus or tube a stop earlier, work out in front of the TV or get your family involved by spending quality sports time together. See the world as your possible gym, because it all adds up.

With busy lives, it’s important to see the world as your gym
Ollie Martin, Performance Coach for The Telegraph

< Previous article Next article >