7 of the best pre ski holiday exercises


A guide to your winter sport pre-habilitation

It’s time to dust off those thermals, pull out that ridiculous woolly hat and get yourself prepared for the best time of year… the ski season.
Winter sports require excellent balance and control, and to achieve this we need strength, flexibility, power and endurance from our head to our toes. Quick reactions are essential and we need to be strong and robust to cope with the tumbles, which inevitably happen to most of us, on an average ski holiday.
A skier benefitting from their pre ski holiday exercises
Unfortunately, the majority of us turn up physically unprepared. This can increase our risk of injury and also dampen our holiday enjoyment when struggling with the inevitable muscle soreness after only a few days on the slopes.
So, whether you ski, snowboard, or cross country ski, if time is invested in fitness prior to your holiday, you’ll perform better and feel happier on your holiday.  

We got in touch with experienced physiotherapist, Gemma Newell from Aravis Massage, to bring you the best pre ski holiday exercises to prepare for your winter holiday.

Here are Gemma’s suggested full body pre-ski holiday exercises that are all simple to do, can be done anywhere, at any time and require no ‘specialist’ gym equipment.

1. Cycling

Road cycling as pre ski holiday exercises
This can be on a static bike or a pedal bike. Cycling is an excellent way to improve both your cardiovascular fitness and to strengthen your legs, both of which are essential for winter sport preparation. Try to increase the time and distance as able, aiming to do at least 20 minutes three times per week. If you are already a member of a gym you may wish to also use the X trainer, stepper or the rowing machine.

2. Supported Wall Squats

An athletic woman performing supported wall squats on a concrete wall
Standing with your back against a wall in a natural alignment and your feet shoulder width apart.  Walk your feet forwards about 20 cm and slide down the wall to bring your feet directly under your knees, as though you are sitting in a chair. Hold this position for 5 seconds then slide back up the wall. Repeat 10-30 times.

3. The Plank – a great core building exercise

Young woman in sports clothing performing a plank as part of her pre ski holiday exercises
Lying face down on the floor, bring yourself up onto your elbows and toes, trying to keep the rest of your body completely straight. Don’t let your back arch, especially as you start to feel yourself fatigue.  Hold this position for 20-30 seconds and repeat 4-5 times. Gradually build up the time and number of repetitions but remember to not arch or over bend your back.

4. Stairs/ Step ups

A woman's feet and ankles in grey and orange trainers doing step ups as part of her pre ski holiday exercises
Try to repeat stepping up and down on a single step 20-30 times. Then swap the leading leg over. This exercise can be made harder by adding weights in your hands or stepping up to a higher step or box.  Always make sure the step or box is secure.
Also, where possible try to always use the stairs and not the lift and to walk and not stand on the escalators.

5. Lunges

An athletic woman performing a lunge exercise on astroturf
Stand with your hands on your hips, step your right foot forwards and slowly bring the left knee as close to the ground as you can, then come back into standing, complete 10 times, then swap to step forwards with the left leg. Try to keep your back straight and don’t lean forwards or over to one side, also avoiding your knee going too far over your toes.

6. Arm (Tricep) dips

An athletic man doing tricep dips on a park bench
Sitting on a chair, slide your bottom to the front of the chair with your hands either side.  Slowly lower yourself off the front of the chair, so your elbows bend to 90 degrees. Then push down through your arms straightening your elbows.  Repeat 20-30 times. Try not to use your legs or hips too much and focus the work on the back of the arms.
This exercise is essential for the beginners, who tend to spend a fair bit of time getting up from the snow!

7. Box jump

A man and woman doing box jumps as part of their pre ski holiday exercises
Find a sturdy box or a gym step, stand astride it and jump up onto the box and then down 10 times (please make sure whatever you are jumping onto can take your weight and is secure!).  Depending on your current fitness level this may be an exercise to progress onto but can be great for your cardiovascular strength and to help you prepare to the sudden changes in snow conditions.

Repetition is key

Try to perform these pre ski holiday exercises at least 3-4 times a week and increase the numbers of repetitions as able.
Despite lots of preparation, many of us still suffer with muscle soreness during our ski holidays. Luckily at Aravis massage we are experts at dealing with the aches and pains suffered from days on the slopes and will be available to offer you a range of massages, in the comfort of your own chalet.  From full body deep tissue, après ski specific or just a relaxing holistic massage, we will help make sure you have the magical holiday you deserve.
For more professional advice on pre ski holiday exercises, or to book a session, find Gemma on the OVO Network Insider’s Guide or on her Facebook page.

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Written by... Gemma


Hi I'm Gemma and I'm a physiotherapist currently living in St Jean de Sixt in the beautiful French alps. After completing my masters in Australia and working in both the NHS and Privately in London for 13 years I was ready for another challenge which brought me to the incredible Aravis region in 2015. I love hiking, skiing and everything outdoorsy, so I can't imagine a more beautiful place to live and I love helping to relieve peoples aches and pains so they can get back to doing what they love as soon as possible - gemnewell@hotmail.com