How to Train for Skiing and Snowboarding

You don’t want to have to cut your day of skiing or snowboarding short because of tired legs. So before you gather your friends and family and purchase your lift tickets, it’s important to follow a workout plan that will get you fit for the slopes.

The following workout guide is designed to help you focus on the most essential aspects of fitness for completing a ski or snowboard trip: cardiovascular fitness, strength and balance. Remember, you should always start your ski day with a few easy warm-up runs, no matter how skilled you are.

As always, be sure to consult with your doctor before starting any new training routine.


Cardiovascular Fitness for Skiing and Snowboarding

Think about the intervals you do on the ski hill. Whether you want to make it all the way down without stopping and use the lift ride as rest, or if you prefer to stop a few times and take in the scenery, you should use interval training to prepare. Use low-intensity cardio as your base and add in high-intensity spurts.

You may choose your mode of cardio—biking, hiking, stair climber, running, swimming, etc.—but aim for 3–5 cardiovascular workouts per week, lasting at least 30 minutes each.


High-Intensity Intervals

You’ll want to begin interval training by understanding your current level of physical ability. Test your leg strength, abdominal strength and balance with a wall sit, plank hold and a one-leg stand (see below for exercise descriptions). Record your time in seconds. Classify yourself as a beginner if you can hold each move for 30–60 seconds; intermediate if you can hold each for 60–90 seconds; and advanced if you can hold each for 90–120 seconds.

Depending on your ability level, you will perform 5–10 high-intensity intervals of 30–120 seconds with low intensity recovery periods of 30–90 seconds in between. It should be easy to talk during the low-intensity portion of your workout and difficult to carry a conversation during the high-intensity intervals.

It’s important to let your heart rate come down to about 70–85 beats per minute in between the intervals, otherwise cardio can be stressful to your system instead of beneficial. Progress through the fitness levels as you train.


High-Intensity Cardio Interval Goals

  Beginner Intermediate Advanced
Number of Intervals 5 - 10 7 -10 10
Time of Interval 30 seconds 60 seconds

120 seconds

Time of Recovery 90 seconds 60 seconds 30 seconds


Strength and Balance Training Exercises for Skiing and Snowboarding

Improve your ski or snowboard performance by strength training 1–3 times per week. Warm up by performing 30–60 seconds each of marching in place, shoulder rolls and ankle rolls in clockwise and counter-clockwise directions. After the warm-up, perform 1–3 rounds of the following exercises with 30–60 seconds rest in between each set. As you grow stronger, work to hold each exercise for the maximum time suggested.

Enjoy a day of rest from all physical activity 1-2 times per week. Recovery is how your muscles repair, rebuild and get stronger. Eating healthy and staying hydrated will help too.


Wall Sit

Female doing a wall sit

  • Begin leaning against a wall with feet about 2-3 feet away from the wall.
  • Your knees should be hip-width apart.
  • Align the knees over the ankles as you slide down the wall. Stop when your thighs are parallel to the floor and your legs make a 90-degree angle at the knees.
  • Keep weight even between each leg and keep your spine and neck in a neutral position.
  • Hold position for 30–90 seconds.


One-Leg Stand

Female doing a one-leg stand

  • Remove your shoes and stand up tall on one leg with shoulders relaxed.
  • Close your eyes for an added challenge.
  • Hold position for 30–90 seconds.


Plank Hold

Female doing a plank hold

  • You can choose to plank using your forearms and knees (easier) or hands and toes (harder).
  • Begin lying on your stomach. Align the hands/elbows under the shoulders and keep your shoulders relaxed, away from your ears.
  • Raise the hips and thighs off the ground so there is a straight line from the head to the heels with the toes and forearms on the ground. Hold position for 30–90 seconds.


Hay Baler with Medicine Ball

Female doing a hay baler exercise with medicine ball
Female doing hay baler exercise with medicine ball
  • Kneel on the ground with knees about hip-width apart. Begin with the medicine ball extended over one shoulder, with a slight rotation through the trunk.
  • Inhale as you lower medicine ball down and across the body toward your hip, and exhale as you raise it up and across the body over the opposite shoulder.
  • Maintain length in the torso throughout the exercise; do not round out lower back.
  • Switch sides and then take 30 seconds of rest before moving to the next exercise.


Plank Hold with Leg Movements

Female doing plank hold with leg movements
Female doing plank hold with leg movements
Female doing plank hold with leg movements
  • Begin in plank hold (see above).
  • Keeping your core stable, bring your knee to chest (flexion), then straight back (extension), and straight out to the side (abduction), all with the toe pointing down toward the ground.
  • Switch legs and perform the same movements on the other side.
  • Perform for 30–90 seconds and continue to alternate legs.


Side Lunges

Female doing side lunges

  • Lunge to the side, lining up the body over the outside foot and shifting your weight to the outside hip.
  • Keep your core engaged as you move back to the center and then switch to the other side.
  • Perform for 30–90 seconds and continue to alternate sides.


Crossing Lunge

Female doing crossing lunge

  • Step one leg behind the other at an angle.
  • Bending both knees to approximately 90 degress, reach the hand opposite of the front leg down and across the body, reaching for the ground.
  • Keep your core engaged as you move back to standing and then repeat to the other side.
  • Perform for 30–90 seconds.


The nonprofit American Council on Exercise (ACE) educates, certifies, and represents more than 53,000 fitness professionals, health coaches, and other allied health professionals.


This publication is not intended to provide medical advice on personal health issues, which should be obtained directly from a physician.



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