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Downhill skiing is such a unique sport that it is easy to think that you could never practice it at home. Yet plenty of people who have been skiing for years or are new to the sport find ways to prepare their minds and bodies in the off-season regardless.
I’ve found that there are a couple of ways to simulate the slopes during the off-season, but the best thing you can do is get your body in shape so you are ready when the season comes around. The first thing you are going to want to lean into is working out so that your muscles are ready for a day on the mountain. After that, make sure you have the right equipment which is comfortable and in good condition.
This may not be what you want to hear, but let’s face it, skiing is not easy, and the last thing you want on your first day out is to call it at lunch because your body can’t handle it. So spend the offseason hitting the gym and building up those muscles to make sure you can shred as much gnar as possible once you get the chance.
2. Legs and Core Strengthening
When it comes to skiing, it’s all about your legs and your core. If your body is not up to shape once the season rolls around, you will spend more time in the lodge than you do on the mountain, which no one wants.
You are going to want to work out your legs and core about 2 to 3 times a week for optimal muscle building. If you are doing that at least 2 months before the ski season, you should be in good shape to take on whatever the mountain throws at you.
There are plenty of resources online for good skiing workout routines at the gym or from home. The key to your workout routine is that it is right for you. Meaning that it is simple and easy enough for you to stick with it week in and week out.
While the strength your build during your workouts will help prevent sore muscles at the end of the day, endurance training is going to be what helps you on your very first run. When your lungs and heart are battling the altitude, a little running in the Fall is going to help a lot.
If running is not your thing, that’s fine. Biking, rowing, jumping rope or hitting the elliptical all work to increase your lung capacity and make sure your heart is pumping smoothly. Do this 2 to 3 times a week along with your strength training, and you should be more than ready for the slopes.
Strapping onto two wooden sticks and ripping down a slippery hill requires a lot of balance. Most of this balance is learned once you get on a pair of skis, but a little practice never hurts.
See how long you can stand on one leg, try a Bosu ball at your gym, or if you want to get really crazy, throw up a slackline in your backyard. Being comfortable with your balance is going to help immensely once you click into your bindings.
Stretching before and after skiing is essential if you want your second day out to be fun as the first. Even with working out, skiing uses a lot of little muscles in your legs and abs that do not usually get used much.
These tiny muscles can get really tight if not taken care of, so be sure to do some toe touches or quad stretches before and after your day of skiing. A foam roller is also extremely helpful with any sore areas of your body.
While your sweet new jacket is going to make sure you look good on the chair lift, be sure to spend some time making sure your boots and skis are comfortable. Be sure to get your gear in the off-season, partially because it’s less expensive and also because you need time to get used to it before you go out.
There is no harm in strapping into your boots every once and a while to make sure that they fit properly and that your foot is ready for them. Regardless of how comfortable a boot you get, your feet will need to get used to them. Plus, making sure you like them early might save you from a day spent in the rental shop trying to figure out why your feet hurt so much.
Skiing Without a Mountain
Now, if you’ve done all the working out and jogging that you can handle and really want the feel of skiing during the off-season, there are a few options you can try out.
Water skiing is a lot different from regular downhill skiing. Still, it will give you a rough idea of what to expect, especially in regards to how it feels to carve and use your balance to make turns. So if you have a friend with a boat and a sunny day, give it a shot.
Some gyms offer indoor ski simulators that are great for working out and give you an idea of the cardio that goes into skiing. If you have a gym near you with one, by all means, try it out but know that they are rare, so finding one might be your biggest hurdle.
Get an Instructor
Regardless of whether you are a seasoned skier or it is your first time, an instructor on your first day of the season can’t hurt. After spending so much time getting ready, treat yourself to an instructor to make sure you’re getting down the mountain in control and safety. I always find that a day out with an instructor teaches me something to make me a better skier. But if you don’t want to spend the money on a pro, grab a buddy who may know more than you do and ask for some pointers.