How to get in shape for your next heliski trip

It’s that time of year. The ski resorts begin to open within the next month, and the holidays–and obligatory food binging–will follow close behind. We all know how hectic this time of year can be, with all the holiday parties, family gatherings, spending quality time with the kids, and work deadlines. Not to mention the stress of holiday shopping and new year’s resolutions. Before you know it, you’re boarding a plane to Utah, and you brought along a few extra ‘winter layers’. And I’m not talking about your North Face down jacket. Don’t let this happen to you. Make the most our of your ski and heliski vacations by getting in shape before you land at the resort.

Say 'no' to your fourth serving of holiday cookies...


It’s important to commit to a full body conditioning program (endurance and strength training).  Whatever you decide on, stick to it. Set aside at least 30 minutes, 3-4 days of the week for conditioning. Don’t have a gym membership? No problem. There are tons of workouts you can do in your living room to get ready for your heliski trip. This is just a small sample of the many types of conditioning programs that will help get you in skiing shape. When you start to struggle with motivation and become distracted, keep in mind that this well help you enjoy your ski vacation!

Endurance Training

Prepare your heart and body for long-term skiing. Create a simple cardio routine that you can stick to throughout the next few months. Aim for 20 to 45 minutes of steady cardio 3 to 5 days a week. Here are some suggestions:

  • Running. It doesn’t have to be outdoors. Hit up your employer for a gym membership, many companies will either subsidize or entirely cover fitness memberships.
  • Elliptical machine. Good motion to simulate skiing.
  • Swimming. Although it doesn’t mimic skiing at all, it is an amazing full body workout.
  • Gym classes. Many gyms offer 60-minute instructor guided routines. Take advantage of these. It’s always easier to motivate yourself within a support network.
  • Hiking. Before it gets too cold or snowy get outside and enjoy the fall colors with a friend. Get bonus points by bringing the kids and the dog.

Try a variety of pace and intensity throughout the week. We suggest one ‘sprint’ session and one longer (approx 60 mix) low intensity routine.

Strength Training

  • Squats. These are key for aspiring skiers. Start small. Try 3 sets of 10 repetitions each. Want more of a challenge? Do one set of wide-stance squats, one set with narrow-stance, one set with only your left leg, and one set with only your right leg. Here are some other variations on the traditional squat.
  • Lunges. Equally important conditioning routine. Grab some moderate weights and do 30 lunges, alternately which leg is forward. Here is an example of how to do a proper lunge, along with variations on the routine.
  • Deadlifts. Get your hamstrings in ski shape by doing 2 sets of 20 deadlifts. Start with a moderate barbell (15 or 20 lbs) and increase as you build muscle strength.
  • Abs & back. Some suggestions: bicycles (2 sets of 20 reps), lat pull downs (3 sets of 12), and back extensions (2 sets of 15 reps)
  • Calf raises. 3 sets of 20 reps. Add weight to increase resistance.
  • Biceps (12 reps). One standard set, one set of hammer curls, one set where you only extend to your waist (top half), and one set where your range is from your thigh up until your waist, and back down (lower half).
  • Triceps (12 reps). 2-3 sets of each: Tricep kickbacks, skull crushers, and close-grip bench press. Feeling ambitious? Throw in some dips as well.

Flexibility Training

As a complement to endurance and strength training, try some simple stretch and yoga routines. Stretching will help reduce injury, increase your range of motion and ease muscle tension. It can also help enhance recovery. Give it a shot.

Here’s a catelog of yoga poses. Local yoga classes are a great way to get started.

Want more inspiration? Check out one of these ski-tested routines:

Good luck—see you on the slopes!


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