Skiing: How to Prepare When There's No Snow

Gabe Mirkin, M.D.

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The best way to train for skiing is to ski, but snow isn't always available. To prepare for a skiing vacation, you need to strengthen both your heart muscles and your skeletal muscles. You can strengthen your heart for skiing with any exercise that will raise your heart rate for at least 10 minutes, three times a week.

However, to prepare your muscles for skiing, you have to use activities that use your upper legs, such as skating or riding a bicycle. The average bicycle rider is far better prepared for skiing than the average runner. Many joggers who can easily run ten miles find that they can't ski very long because their upper leg muscles tire and hurt after just a few minutes of skiing.

You drive yourself forward in skiing with the muscles in your upper legs. Running stresses primarily the muscles in your lower legs. It does not strengthen the muscles in the upper legs enough to allow the average person to ski for any length of time. Running stresses your upper leg muscles only when you use them to lift you up when you run hard up hills. Since you ski by bouncing up and down on your knees and shushing forward from your hips, the best sports to prepare for skiing are those that stress primarily your thigh and upper leg muscles.

You can use the popular indoor exercise machines that mimic cross-country skiing motions, or ski on dry roads with roller-skis. In-line skating or cycling are good choices for outdoor preparation, particularly if you climb lots of hills. Add a weight training program to strengthen your upper body and arms as well as your legs, and you’ll be ready for the snow.

Dr. Gabe Mirkin has been a radio talk show host for 25 years and practicing physician for more than 40 years; he is board certified in four specialties, including sports medicine. Read or listen to hundreds of his fitness and health reports at

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