Preseason skiing: Get fit | SierraSun.com

Preseason skiing: Get fit

Dave Price
Sierra Sun

Autumn has arrived. The weather has cooled off, the colors have turned, and the Sierra scenery is flat-out beautiful. This is also the perfect time to start thinking about ski season.

Die-hard skiers realize, if they haven’t been working out already, this is the time to start preparing to hit the slopes and ski trails once the snowpack begins to build. Conditioning does make a difference for any skier or snowboarder. Your legs and body won’t be so tired at the end of a long day ” not to mention later on in the season ” and your chances of injury will be greatly reduced.

It all starts with a good foundation by having the right equipment and making sure that equipment is properly tuned. Especially your own body’s equipment.

Step one is to ensure your personal well being. If you don’t already follow a consistent physical training program ” regardless of your age ” it would be advisable to consult a physician to make sure you’re ready to undertake a physical conditioning program.

If so, there are many possibilities to consider in terms of getting in shape for winter.

– Your cardiovascular system. Any seasoned skier or snowboarder knows that trying to negotiate a mountain run at 8,000 or 9,000 feet can suck the breath right out of you, so a good goal would be to try and increase the supply of oxygen in the tank. Such aerobic activities as cycling, mountain biking, swimming, in-line skating, roller skiing, jogging or simply going out for a good hike would be a good start. How far you go depends on where you are fitness-wise. Don’t try to do too much too soon, which is true when it comes to a stretching program. A good rule to consider is to always listen to your body ” if it starts hurting or becomes sore, consider backing off a little or maybe taking a day off to allow for some recovery.

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– Upper and lower body exercising. Think of your body as a chain ” it will only be as strong as its weakest link. Start by stretching to enhance flexibility, agility and endurance. Also, it is important not to neglect either your upper or lower body. Take the legs, for example. Don’t overlook working your quads; it is important to create endurance in the quads, especially if you enjoy powder skiing. While the legs are important, the upper body exercises will develop your core muscles and help make sure your body is stabilized. For that reason, the abdominal muscles are important. So is the lower back. Competitive Alpine and Nordic skiers all have specific core programs developed for them to prevent back issues from arising during their season.

– If you’re injured right now, whether it’s a knee or whatever, it’s important to consider other alternatives to develop some type of conditioning. Do searches on the Internet to find options for your specific condition. The important thing is to have a foundation in place so you’re ready to go when the legs are healthy again.

– Don’t underestimate the importance of diet. For one, eating well will help your body recover better from the workouts you’re doing. And, as mentioned above, good nutrition will help you recover from injuries faster. Your body needs fuel, and with better fuel, the chances of your engine running better and longer are greatly improved.

– Lastly, no matter what workout program you choose, be consistent with it. Working on conditioning is sort of like working on your suntan because it gets a little bit better each day.

So, get outside to work out a little ” those autumn colors are beautiful right now.

Dave Price is a veteran skier, runner and fitness expert who writes sports for the Sierra Sun and its sister papers.