Before I began writing this guide to off-season conditioning for skiing and snowboarding I considered my own activities, along with Internet content you’ll find if you type in the keywords “off season conditioning for skiing and snowboarding” on Google. I also thought long and hard about all my super-fit ski-bum friends, and what they do to stay in shape and build fitness.
There is a very big difference between what is written and what serious skiers and riders actually do:
The first few pages of search engine response pages on Google have sites that primarily focus on gym / health club activities that target specific muscle groups commonly used in skiing and snowboarding such as quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes (butt muscles), calves, abs, back and lower arms. Also advised are aerobic machines such as stair-climbers, treadmills, and ellipticals.
These activities are all great and very helpful if you can mentally handle the repetitiveness of gym workouts, but personally, I have issues maintaining my motivation for them and I do not know any of my ski bum friends that base their off-season conditioning program on them.
Every serious skier that I know stays fit in the outdoor environment with the following activities:
- Work. I know lots of super fit ski buddies that ski 100+ days a year and do little or no “conditioning” outside of their very active summer jobs: river guides, fishing guides, smoke-jumpers, trail maintenance crew, bike trail patrol, restaurant serving, construction, landscaping, etc. You get the picture. Active jobs.
- Cycling. Mainly mountain biking, but road biking gets the nod for lots of us who’ve finally succumbed to lots of mountain biking injuries. Nearly every fit skier and snowboarder rides a bike. If you don’t, it’s time to start.
- Hiking. Not much to add to the most obvious, great conditioning activity for skiing and snowboarding. Just be aware over time of the wear and tear on your knees from walking downhill.
- Climbing. Hard to beat this activity for ski conditioning. Both rock climbing and alpine climbing are great activities for general fitness.
- Running. A lot of young -new to ski town individuals- stay super fit running. But most people I know eventually shift to cycling to lessen wear and tear on their knees.
- Kayaking and rafting. A great workout for general fitness. Perhaps your legs and knees need a rest after a hard ski season. Sometimes off-season conditioning is more about recovery.
- SUP (stand up paddle boarding). All the rage now, but it doesn’t do much for your lower body, so I’m not sure why so many people are telling themselves this is ski conditioning. But a great, scenic diversion none-the-less.
- Kiteboarding and windsurfing. Including myself, I know lots of hardcore skiers that spend their off season kiteboarding and windsurfing. Perhaps no other activities focus more on the same muscle groups as skiing and snowboarding.
Good luck. Stay fit.