What’s the best way to physically prepare for winter sports?


Rafaël, Sports Coach at the Thermes Marins Monte-Carlo, offers his best tips on how to prepare for sports this winter. 


coach-artHi, Rafaël. Every winter, when the snow comes, we are so happy to practise winter sports again that we hurry out on our skis and snowboards. Are we being too impatient?

Coach Rafaël:Impatient, yes; too much so, most certainly, as this forces us to make physical demands that our bodies are often insufficiently prepared for.


Is there a specific way that we can physically prepare ourselves?
Rafaël: It doesn’t have to be specific as long as it is really focused on getting the legs back into shape as they play the most role in winter sports. These exercises should concentrate on the thigh muscles, particularly the quadriceps and knee ligaments. Even if present-day equipment – shoes, skis, etc. – have vastly improved safety, equipment isn’t everything. It’s important to be physically prepared.


How much time should this training take? When should you start?

Rafaël:For a season starting in December, it is recommended to begin training in mid-September or early October at the latest. Each muscle-strengthening workout should last about 40 to 50 minutes including ten minutes of cardiovascular warm-up exercises on a mat or bicycle. Stretching is a way for the body to recuperate and should be done for about ten minutes at the end of the workout.


Can you recommend any simple exercises?
Rafaël: You could easily begin preparing at home by doing 3 types of exercises in a series:

SQUATS – Stand up straight with the legs parallel and bend the knees until the thighs are parallel to the floor as if you were going to sit down but without letting your knee go past the tips of your feet!

SPLITS – This well known movement consists of stretching one leg and bending the other.

THE “CHAIR EXERCISE” – With your back to the wall and your legs parallel, bend the knees until the thighs are parallel to the floor. Once you’re in this position, the goal is to not move for 1 to 2 minutes.

Redo a series of 12 to 15 squats, 12 to 15 splits and the chair exercise for 1 to 2 minutes.

These exercises should be done daily to be effective in physically preparing you, or at the very least, once every two days.


We’re finally physically prepared and ready to ski! Do you have any advice for once we’re actually out there?

Rafaël:  During physical exertion on the mountain, it’s important to hydrate because the cold, wind and altitude favour dehydration. Drink water that has a suitable and balanced mineral content.

Hunger cravings are also something skiers can experience. The simplest and most natural foods are often the best and easiest to digest, such as dried fruits and nuts. Try dried apricots and almonds, for example! That should keep you going outdoors for a while.


Coach, any final advice?
Rafaël: Yes. We often forget that a good day of skiing must end with some stretching that will help prevent sore muscles the next day! This should be done for 30 minutes after you’ve stopped the day’s sporting activities. Stretch all your calf muscles including the triceps (they aren’t just in your arms) but also the adductor muscles, quadriceps and hamstrings. All you have to do is stand on a step.
For more details on training, the best thing to do is to book an appointment with your coach, who can propose a personalised training programme that takes into account your initial muscle status, your aim and the type of sport. The training machines in the fitness room are a very efficient way to prepare if they are been vetted by your coach and are part of a thought-out training plan.


Thanks, Coach!