Oh dear. It's August 5th 2012, and Usain Bolt, the fastest man in history, has just lost the Olympic men's 100m final! Why? Well, he was just coming to London for a holiday and a bit of a run, and didn't take the running part seriously enough - he didn't train enough. Sound likely? Not really (in fact we all know it didn't happen that way). Yet many people do go on a holiday in which a sporting activity plays a major part but without putting in enough (any?) work to a) get the best out out of it and b) give themselves the best chance of avoiding accident and injury. This is particularly true as you get older and don't have the 'taken for granted' strength and vitality of youth. It's not to say that you should narrow your horizons as you go through the years, you just have to make more effort in order to maintain the possibilities.
And as winter is upon us, we'll focus on skiing.
So, how much should you do, and what? Well, any amount is better than nothing, as long as you don't charge into a major workout as your first exercise in years the week before you go away and end up as sore as hell for the whole of your ski trip! 6 weeks of pre-trip training, once or twice a week, will make a difference - but the longer the period for which you train the better. What muscles should you work? If you haven't worked out for a while - or ever - then you should spend a month, say, on a general workout, to build up overall strength and fitness initially. Subsequently, working on lower body strength, i.e. your legs, is very important - and for obvious reasons.
Here are a couple of Lower Body exercises
The other area that you need to work on is core strength. When you ski you need to be in control of your body position in order that you can apply pressure to your skis as YOU want to. Having your upper body being thrown into all sorts of weird positions by unexpected terrain won't help your skiing much - even if it will entertain your fellow skiers. This is particularly the case off-piste where the snow changes from metre to metre and you're never sure what your skis will encounter under the snow. Good core strength, as well as lower body strength, will enable you to deal with the unexpected and maintain good skiing position.
Here are a couple of Core Strength Exercises
Of course, stamina is another important area of fitness for skiing. You don't want to spend 2 hours walking uphill on skins only to find that you don't have the physical energy and mental concentration to take advantage of the untracked powder laid out below you. Working on your muscles does have a cardio benefit, but try and add some running into your routine, either within the work-out or on its own. Make sure you start with a distance and a speed suited to your current fitness level and work up from there.
For more exercises, see the Workouts and Exercises in the Training section for a range of individual exercises and exercise routines created by personal fitness trainer Dan Reeve. Although our site deals with people over the age of 50 who do extreme / adventure sports, these exercises are good for all ages. The only proviso is that YOU have to put in the work to get the results.
And you never know, you may like the extra energy you have from training and keep it up in preparation for next year's trip (and for life in general). And even if Sochi 2014 is a bit far as an aim, maybe a gold medal at Val d'Isère's Fête des Médaillés will await you.