6 Tips For Skiing When Overweight & Common Misconceptions

by Simon Naylor | Posted On: March 16th, 2020
Fat skiing

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There are many physical and mental health benefits to skiing. For example, skiing is a great way to lose weight. You can burn up to 3000 calories in a single day of skiing. Skiing also tones muscles, boosts immunity, and combats depression and anxiety. Not to mention, it is an ideal way to have some fun and reset.

Being overweight shouldn’t stop you from enjoying the benefits of skiing, especially when you consider that it will help you get back into shape. You can still ski if you are overweight. It can, however, also present some unique challenges that can be overcome by: strengthening your body in preperation and stopping before you become too tired -- to avoid injury.

To make the best of your day on the slopes, here are a few tips for skiers who are overweight.

1. Prepare Your Equipment

If you’re worried about finding equipment that fits correctly, take solace in the fact that ski equipment is available in your size. From boots to skis and jackets to pants, ski equipment built for plus size people does exist. The problem is that if you are planning on renting, the specific rental shop at the resort may not have your size.

It is a good idea to call ahead and ask about sizing before you head to the hill. It might be better to rent equipment and get fitted ahead of time rather than find out the day of your ski trip that they don’t have your sizes in stock.

Investing in warm clothes is especially crucial to have a good time on the slopes. Once you get wet or cold, you will want to call it done and head into the lodge. So take the time to find all the ski wear you need to stay warm and comfortable so you can focus on skiing.

Ski boots fit much differently than regular shoes. So if you have large legs, you will also want a ski boot that has a wide calf or can be adjusted to a broader setting. Again, it is easier to find the right boots before you head to the hill. It will give you time to find what is most comfortable and safe for you without the rush.

The professionals in the ski shop will help you to make sure that you’re fitted both with the right boots and the right length of skis. Skis need to be long enough to carry your weight correctly, but short enough that if you are a beginner, you can still control them.

Lastly, but perhaps most importantly, if you choose not to buy a helmet, rent one. Regardless of what kind of shape you are in or your experience level of skiing, you will fall sooner or later. Don’t take chances that could result in severe head injuries.

2. Prepare Your Body

Regardless of your weight, skiing for the first time can be a little rough. It takes a while to find your balance and control before you start enjoying it. It could be a little harder if you are overweight. Depending on how overweight you are, you may have difficulty balancing because your muscles may not be as toned, or you may have to work areas of your body that haven’t had to work this hard in some time.

If you want to start skiing to get into shape and lose fat, it is a great idea. However, implementing this idea can be tough because of the concerns mentioned above. How can you better prepare your body for your first day of skiing? Start training at home.

Balance is especially important when skiing. It helps you stay in control and keeps you off the ground. Therefore, start by improving your balance and control with everyday activities. Incorporate exercises that safely challenge your balance. Strengthening your core is an excellent place to start as it is a primary muscle group you’ll be using to ski with control.

Skiing also puts a lot of strain on the thigh and calf muscles. Squats, wall sits, and lunges will strengthen these muscle groups and contribute to enhancing your balancing abilities.

Even your arms have to endure a workout when you ski. When you push off on your ski poles, you are working your biceps and triceps.

Cardio is also essential to your pre-ski workouts because it will help you build your endurance. You will tire out less quickly, enjoy the sport longer, and avoid injuries caused by exhaustion if you begin building up your cardio endurance long before you start skiing.

Here are a few exercises that can get you in shape before getting on the lift:

To strengthen Your Core and Improve Balance

For strengthening Your Legs

To Increase Cardio Endurance

· Regular use of a stair climber or elliptical should increase your cardio endurance. The important thing is that you do any activity that gets your heart rate up and works your entire body.

Arm Strength Exercises

How to Train for Skiing || REI

3. Take a Lesson

It might be tempting to skip paying for a lesson and try it for the first time on your own. Especially considering the money you just spend on the lift ticket, not to mention all the gear. However, trying to learn to ski on your own can be frustrating and even dangerous if you don’t know proper techniques to keep your joints safe.

Perhaps even worse than learning on your own is having a loved one teach you. Very few of us are as good as teaching as we are at skiing. And if they paid for a lift ticket too, chances are they would rather be in the deep powder rather than spending the day on the bunny hill. Best case scenario, you both lose your patience with each other, they take off on the lift, and you head to the lodge for coco.

Taking a lesson will be money and time well spent. Rather than wearing yourself out or even hurting yourself fall after fall, an instructor train you with the right techniques. By learning and applying these techniques, you will be less likely to get injured as well as not tire out as quickly.

An instructor will also make sure that you aren’t unknowingly putting your joints or back in harm’s way. He can help you quickly adjust your posture to prevent other injuries from happening and help you gain control and confidence quicker.

4. Be Patient With Yourself

Skiing is not something you can perfect, or even learn in a day even when you are in the best shape. It might take a few days on the bunny hill before you feel entirely comfortable skiing. The more time you spend practicing skiing, the easier it will get and the more fun you will have. Expect to fall, expect to get cold, and expect all the muscles in your body to burn.

That way, when you experience these things, you won’t be discouraged or surprised. If you find yourself getting fed up with the sport, don’t feel bad about taking a break and sitting in the lodge for an hour or two to warm up and get your determination back.

Taking breaks is especially a good idea if you are not accustomed to a lot of exercise. If you push yourself too hard, you will end up hating the sport and could end up seriously injuring yourself. With time you will fall less, be in more control, and be able to last longer on the slopes before needing a break.

5. Take Steps to Prevent Injuries

One of the most common injuries incurred while skiing are knee injuries. These can often occur in people who are fit and at a healthy weight. The risk dramatically increases for people who are overweight because of the extra force put on the knee during a fall.

How can you reduce the risk of knee injuries? Listen to your body. If you start to feel pain, even if it’s only a little bit, in either of your knees, it is time to stop. Pushing yourself will lead to painful injuries, some of which could have you out of commission for several months.

Knowing what angles and positions can put the most tension on your knees tendons and ligaments is essential to preventing serious injuries. For example, you can stay in better control and avoid twisting your knees if you keep your arms and hands always in front of you.

If you feel like you’re losing your balance, resist the urge to swing your arms backward. Doing that will only bring back the rest of your body and put further tension on your knees.

Always keep your skis together and don’t allow them to turn in different directions. Also, keeping your knees flexed, especially if you’re falling, will prevent you from twisting your knee and causing a tear.

Read more in-depth: How To Protect Knees From Injury Skiing

6. Practice Recovering from a Fall

No matter what sort of shape you’re in, one of the hardest parts of skiing isn’t the fall itself, but getting back up afterward.

Your skis can get tangled up with each other. One or both skis might come off completely, and those skis might take off down the hill without you. And once you finally get yourself back on your feet, and collected your skis, how do you get your boots back into those finicky bindings?

If you choose to pay for a lesson, your instructor can walk you through the easiest way to get back on your feet and into your skis.

If you fall while on a slope, simply uncross your skills and use the hillside as leverage as you push your body into the upright position. You just need to make sure to keep your skis facing horizontally across the mountain to you don’t take off down the hill before you’re ready.

Falling on the flat ground creates another advantage. You can usually use your ski pole unlock your boots from the bindings then use it to steady yourself as your stand up and put your skis back on.

Read more in-depth:

Commonly Asked Questions

Is there a weight limit to the chair lift?

Chair lifts have no individual weight limit. They were specially designed to hold several people at once without any problems. Most chair lifts can carry anywhere from two to eight people, so a single, heavier person will never be a problem.

Do skis have a weight limit?

Most ski shops have equipment readily available for skiers up to 230 pounds (104kg). If you weigh over 230 pounds, it doesn’t mean you have to sit the day out in the lodge. It just means that the rental shop may have a harder time finding skis that will suit your weight.

If you are unsure whether or not they will have your size, it doesn’t hurt to call ahead of time to find out. That way, if they do have the right skis for you, they can have them ready when you arrive, saving you time and frustration.


So don’t be discouraged from skiing if you’re overweight. You can do so successfully and experience many of the benefits and joys that come with skiing. Just be sure to take into consideration these helpful tips for skiing overweight, and you’ll be sure to have a great time.

Simon Naylor, the founder of New To Ski, started skiing in 2005. He has continued to practice his skills and wanted to share his journey and knowledge with other new skiers. He launched New To Ski in 2018 to help first-time skiers have more fun on the slopes and get out and explore the mountains safely.