Skiing is an interesting sport, in that even the least sporty person in the world might take it up if given the chance. Maybe this is because of the scenery, the lack of competitiveness, or the fact that there are slopes for people of all skill levels, but the fact is that skiing is a popular sport for people of all ages and from all walks of life. But if you have never been skiing before, it can be hard to know how physically demanding it is. Can sliding downhill really be that difficult?
The short answer is yes, skiing can actually be very physically exerting. While it may not appear so to an observer, skiing uses a lot of different muscle groups, and can require people to use a lot of force to stay in control. As you might expect, these are confined primarily, although not exclusively, to the legs.
Your quadriceps, the muscles at the front of your thigh, are generally considered to be the main group of muscles used in skiing. Not only will the quads bear the brunt of your weight, they help hold your hips and knees in place to help you achieve the bent position used so often in skiing. Squats and lunges are two of the best exercises to help ensure you have strong, healthy quads.
But the quads aren’t the only muscles that help you achieve this posture, which doesn’t have an official name, but is commonly referred to as the downhill skiing position. Because you are leaning so far forward, both your glutes and your hamstrings will be stretched to help you maintain stability. Leg curls and deadlifts are two examples of exercises that can work out both of these muscles at once. At the same time, both your inner and outer thighs help you stabilise yourself and steer, so it is also important to work on these. Goblet squats can help you with the inner thighs, and will also help with your hamstrings, glutes, and quads, while side planks can help you with the outer thighs.
Of course, it is not just the legs that are used in skiing, and the rest of your body should not be neglected. You will use your arms to push yourself with ski poles, so working on your biceps and triceps is helpful. However, it should be noted, especially for first time skiers, that your arms will be jerked and pulled around a lot, so working on increasing your shoulder flexibility with stretches is a very effective way to avoid injury. Neck rolls, cross-arm stretches, and the anterior shoulder stretch can all help you achieve this.
The last muscle groups you should be concerned with are your abs and back muscles. Although these are not twisted or used as suddenly or as often as many of the other groups mentioned, they will be in a state of near-constant use because of the downhill skiing position. If these are not muscles you would usually engage, either during exercise or at work, then you may want to set aside some time for exercises such as sit ups, crunches, deadlifts, or pulldowns.
Skiing may not appear to be the most physically demanding sport, but under that big puffy ski suit, your muscles are working harder than you can imagine. It will only take a couple of slopes before you really begin to feel the effects that skiing has on your muscles, so if you have a ski trip coming up, make sure to work on these muscles in advance, or you will quickly regret your lack of preparation.