Training your body for heli skiing is a nebulous concept at best. You might think that stepping into a pair of skis or a snowboard, climbing in a helicopter, and carving through fresh powder down a mountainside-only to repeat the process over and over again-wouldn’t be something you’d need to prepare for. But the truth is, skiing and snowboarding are high-activity sports, and if you want to make the most of them, you need to invest a little time and forethought into getting ready for the season.
The fact is, if you haven’t done any ski- or snowboard specific cross-training, the muscles that have been relatively dormant for several months are going to get a rude awakening, and you’re sure to be quaffing ibuprofen before day’s end. And don’t think you can just ‘coast’ through the day to minimize the toll of exerting yourself – snow is an ever-changing medium, and your physical preparedness will be tested continuously as you move through powder.
In terms of specific anaerobic exercises, you might want to try pliometric exercises (e.g., bounding or making other explosive movements that fine-tune muscles for anaerobic sports), interval training like sprints, and weight room exercises. All of these help the body to get fit for heli skiing anaerobically and transfer well to snow sports.
During strength training, it’s important to train more muscles than you can see in the mirror at the gym, which is a common mistake among athletes. You need to train your lower back and your hamstrings to balance out opposing muscles like the quads and abdominals. Using free weights will also give you more results for your time spent lifting. When you’re wedged against an apparatus while lifting, muscle groups are isolated. Free weights force balance and range of motion into the equation that resembles skiing and boarding.
1. Upper body muscles – A rowing or pulling motion for upper back, a chest muscle press and/or a bent over row.
2. Arm muscles – Curls for biceps, reverse curls for triceps and a flying motion for pecs and rear deltoids.
3. Core muscles – An abdominal resistance and lower back resistance. Balance balls are great to challenge both. Try a seated crunch on the ball with one leg extended.
4. Pliometrics – Start in a squat, thighs parallel to the ground. JUMP straight up and reach your arms to the sky as your feet lift off the ground. Repeat 10 times, break for 15 seconds only and repeat 10 more. This is an ideal exercise for increasing power fast twitch muscle fibers.
5. Stability – Squats and lunges on the balance boards to increase the stability around your knees. Any uneven surface like sand will work as a substitute.
In closing, there is no training substitute to prepare you for your heli ski holiday that is as good as getting out on the slopes for a few days prior. Entertain the idea of a ski lesson from a Ski Professional; they will help you fine tune your technique and efficiency. To quote a phrase, it’s never too late to get started. The six weeks before the season are the most important in strength training and anaerobic conditioning. Even if you haven’t been conscientious about training throughout the off-season, you should focus on a regime during these fleeting days before the snow flies.
Again, preseason training is for everyone. The suggestions offered here are intended to either motivate you to develop your own regime or tailor the one you have for more effectiveness. Who knows? Feeling sore after a day on the slopes-or even incurring an injury-may become a thing of the past.