How to Get in Shape for Your Best On-Snow Experience

Top tips for alpine skiers, cross-country skiers, and snowboarders
By Peter Kray, Kray
January 21, 2014 Updated: January 20, 2014

With the lifts already turning, time is tight for a physical overhaul or a brand new workout program, but every minute you spend being active before you hit the slopes can go a long way toward enhancing your fun—while also helping you enjoy a long, injury-free season.

With that in mind, I asked three experienced ski and snowboard instructors what they do to stay in shape for winter. Here’s what they said:

Stay Active

“I have one goal every year, and that’s to still be riding at the end of the season,” said Mark “Spike” Eisenman, manager of the Beaver Creek Ski & Snowboard School Snowboard Programs in Avon, Colo. “Being in shape is key to enjoying the season.”

For people who don’t have time to commit to a full-scale workout program, Eisenman recommends that they do some exercise everyday. Whether it’s skateboarding or just going for a walk in the woods, make sure to do something every day, even if it doesn’t get you huffing and sweating.

Don’t be that stagnant person who plays golf or runs once a week then drinks and eats out all weekend. Whatever you do, you have to do it more often.

On the flip side, once you do get a regular routine, be sure and schedule a couple rest days in. Eisenman said, “The older I get, the more I realize I also need to schedule recovery time.”

Get Outside

Scott McGee recommends that ski and snowboard enthusiasts spend as much time outside as possible, enjoying nature no matter what the weather conditions. McGee is the director of the mountain sports school at Snow King Mountain Resort in Jackson, Wyo.

“Having fun ways to ‘play at skiing,’ whatever the time of year, will keep your head in the game and reinforce movement patterns that you want to keep, and that will strengthen you in sport-specific ways,” he said.

Go Skipping

This simple, playful movement is great for dynamic balance and plyometric power training. Short steps, without excessive ‘spring,’ are a great way to start. You can work your way up to a more ‘bounding’ version of skipping, with longer strides and more ‘boing.’ Start with 3 sets of 30 seconds, with 1 minute rests between, and work up to 5 sets of 1 minute, again with rest in between.


Exercise your balance, agility, and visual and edging skills with this fun bike exercise. Safety first, though—make sure you’re on a low- or no-traffic stretch of pavement with a downhill, good brakes, and a helmet. Let the dashed lines on the pavement become ‘gates’ that you try to roll over in a regular pattern.

Inline Skating

It’s a great cross training for balance, agility, and strength, not to mention visual, pressuring, and edging skills as well. Again, on a ‘safe’ stretch of pavement, and ideally with knee, elbow, wristpads, and a helmet, look for a level surface or very slight downhill with a good runout. Parking space marking lines can make great ‘gates.’ Focus on equal edge angles between inside and outside leg, and simultaneous edge change.

Go All In

“Having a training partner is a great way to stay on task with any training program,” said Chris Fellows, co-owner of the North American Ski Training Center in Truckee, California, and author of the book “Total Skiing.”

Fellows stays in shape for skiing all year and has these workout tips for anyone looking to have a breakthrough ski and snowboard season.


Make a promise to yourself that you will complete your exercise cycle of at least three weeks without excuses.

Focus on Legs and Core

Learning how to move effectively indoors with greater intensity will translate to deeper reserves when challenged on the hill.

Balance Between all Four Quarters of Your Body

Develop a symmetrical body by matching upper and lower body exercises as well left and right side exercises.

Eat Superfoods

Fuel your engine with foods high in nutrients for maximum energy, including blueberries, spinach, fish, almonds, peppers, quinoa, oats, ginger, and green tea. Pros know that highly commercialized foods will sidetrack your training and clog your motor.

Power Up Your Cardio

Get aerobically winded everyday for at least 10—15 minutes. Remember to include anaerobic intervals twice a week. Running stairs in your office building, briskly walking your dog up a steep hill, or grinding it out in the top gears of your mountain bike can all make your heart power up to a level that builds your aerobic base.

Peter Kray is a snow sports journalist and author. He lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where he can been seen ripping down the slopes of Santa Fe Ski Basin when he’s not writing.