Skiing is extremely strenuous just as a leisure activity, let alone when undertaken as a competitive sporting discipline in any of its variations (i.e. acrobatic, cross-country/downhill/slalom racing etc.). That is why you must work hard to ensure that you possess the all-round bodily fitness necessary to be able to meet the differing yet simultaneous physical demands for agility, balance and speed – hence the need to undertake ski fitness training!
The body needs to be physically prepared with toning & conditioning; ideally, your ski fitness training should commence not less than 8 weeks in advance of setting foot on the slopes for the first time in any season. The aim should be principally targeted towards building muscular strength and developing maximum endurance, especially in the biggest muscle group of the human body: the legs!
Most physical training instructors would rightly advise firstly carrying out warm-up activities before launching into the actual proper bulk exercise component of the ski fitness training. Performing gentle stretches in this warm-up prepares the body for what is to follow by slowly stimulating blood circulation, thus avoiding any abrupt blood pressure alteration & hence being kinder to muscles (including the heart!); they also initiate the internal secretion of bodily fluids used to help feed the muscles and lubricate bone-joints whilst working out for the duration of your ski fitness training session.
Stretching should start at the top of the body and work progressively downwards without rushing – less than 5 minutes is unlikely to be adequate… closer to 10-15 minutes would be much more preferable, before proceeding to spend 15-20 minutes on a treadmill at a pace equivalent to anywhere between a fast-walk & a gentle jog; this is basic cardio training which should always form part of any worthwhile regular basic ski fitness training program: as well as improving blood circulation throughout the body, it makes the heart stronger whilst also working to lower levels of bad cholesterol (so the stronger heart can do it’s job even more easily, still AND blood readily circulates more freely than ever) & improve overall lung function (meaning the better circulating blood is more richly oxygenated, allowing muscles to perform more strongly for sustained longer periods on account of being better fed).
Good blood circulation throughout the body is very important when you are undertaking ski fitness training and is even more vital during actual skiing in weeks to come, the point being that the ski fitness training should simulate as closely as possible the type & extent of demanding physical activity to which the body will be subjected when doing the real skiing. For this reason, it’s a good idea to consider incorporating skipping-rope jumping into your ski fitness training program since that doesn’t just improve blood circulation; it also conditions the knees into bending and develops thigh muscle strength & endurance. It’s also faster than jogging and so begins to exercise the ‘fast’ muscle fibres; this is desirable since most forms of skiing are over uneven surfaces which demand that the leg muscles respond quickly to the rapidly undulating conditions beneath: for the same reason, faster running after the earlier fast walk/slow jog can be beneficial.
Finally, consider weight training; however, in doing so, be sure to focus on lifting lighter weights (5-10 kg) more times (high repetitions) since the aim is to tone & condition, developing endurance strength rather than packing on bulk muscle growth (which is what will happen as a result of lifting heavy weights fewer times); also, use free weights rather than fixed (i.e. barbells & dumbells instead of multi-gyms and weight-lifting machines): this ensures that you avoid potentially damaging/weakening artificial action and instead maintain a natural dynamic flow throughout the full range of bodily joint movement in your ski fitness training routine – by doing so, you also simultaneously gain better balance & co-ordination as strength increases in what is referred to as the body core, which stabilises your trunk & spine.
By including some, any or all of these basic activities in your ski fitness training program, you may well also improve your chances of avoiding injury. Of course, aside from physical aspect of ski fitness training to develop agility, balance, endurance, strength & speed, good nutrition can also play a part. There is no recommended special diet for ski fitness training programs; nor does good nutrition necessarily mean lower carbohydrates, as many popular diets advocate nowadays – ski fitness & training activities require a lot of energy so you would be ill-advised to take in too few carbohydrates: you are simply best advised to watch what you eat (as well as how much of it & when) in order to be well nourished: a good, healthy,well-planned & sensible diet should include proportionally correct amounts of all appropriate carbohydrates, proteins, vitamins & minerals to keep the body going during ski fitness training and whilst later enjoying the actual real skiing itself.
As always, please consult your doctor and/or dietician for an assessment of personal suitability/safety prior to undertaking any new ski fitness training program or any other significant change in your current level of physical activity or dietary consumption; avoid anything which would be futile and prevent you from fully enjoying the wonderful range of skiing activity options available.