The typical British skier or snowboarder only gets one to two weeks on snow in a ski resort each year, and many of us struggle to make the most of it because we leave targeted fitness training until the last minute – or don’t bother with it at all.
The result when we get to the slopes? Thigh burn and exhaustion that makes us stop constantly for breathers and even quit long before the lifts close. Then there are the nagging aching muscles that can curtail après fun as well making things tough the next day, plus an increased risk of falling over because you’re tired, and of being injured.
Thankfully, it takes less work than you might think to keep snow-sports’ muscles ticking over in the off-season, and working on ski/snowboard fitness really pays off.
And you don’t have to go to the gym – these home-exercise gadgets are designed to be used anywhere. Here’s our pick of the best for honing ski- and snowboard-specific fitness, including leg strength, balance and core muscles, as well as build slope-muscle memory, so that you can holiday with a head start next season.
Best for balance on skis
SkiA Sweetspot Ski Trainer, £45
When you only get to the slopes for one week a year, half the battle lies in finding the right position over your skis. That’s where this balance trainer designed to be used with ski boots comes in. Since ankle movement is limited, just like when skiing, you need to use your whole body to find your centred balance ‘sweet spot’, just like when skiing. This entails engaging knees and hips, the core muscles of pelvis, abdomen and back, plus shoulders and arms. SkiA has four levels to suit levels from absolute beginner to expert. Use regularly and the result will be less thigh burn and better control and balance when hitting the slopes.
Buy now at skia.com
Best for spacial awareness
Bounce & Burn Mini Trampoline, £149
A mini trampoline – aka rebounder – is brilliant for honing balance, all-round leg strength and air awareness. It’s also useful for building cardio-vascular fitness and fat burning. This compact – one metre wide – bouncer comes with a workout DVD and the legs fold away for storage. Rebound UK offers a membership option (£9.99 a month after a free trial) with access to more workouts, including two new ones every month, as well as training and nutrition tips.
Buy now at amazon.co.uk
Best for stamina
Skier’s Edge T5 Big Mountain, £1,595
This nifty machine, championed by Ski Sunday’s Graham Bell, mimics the movements of skiing to improve technique, while also building strength, muscle memory and stamina so that you’re ski-ready the day you hit the slopes. This Big Mountain version suits beginners to experts, simulating the tougher workout offered by steeper slopes, and has settings for changing leg position and increasing resistance. Not cheap, and needs space – it’s just over a metre and a half in length – but for anyone serious about improving, could be a worthwhile investment.
Buy now at skiersedge.co.uk
Best for edge control
Actilean Balance Blocks, £35
Consisting of two foot-sized foam balance boards that are shaped to mimic the gradient of a blue ski slope, Actilean allows you to get into ski position and and simulate parallel turns on skis by rolling from edge to edge on the curved underside. This uses ski-specific muscle groups and practising regularly can enhance edge control on skis as well as improving strength and endurance.
Buy now at actilean.co.uk
Best for weight transfer
Bosu Home Balance Trainer, £142
Exercises like hopping from foot to foot on a Bosu – which is like a gym ball chopped in half – are brilliant for building the weight transfer skills needed for moving in and out of turns on snow. Balancing on its wobbly surface is also helpful, because it mimicks the unpredictable, unstable snow conditions and landings of snow sports, and prepares core muscles to deal with them. The trainer comes with a training DVD of exercises and Bosu also has a selection of snow-sport specific exercises online, including squats and abdominal twists.
Buy now at amazon.co.uk
Best for glute strength
Belus Resistance Loop Bands £20 for a set of four
A great take-anywhere, do-anywhere option, resistance bands can be especially helpful for sculpting and strengthening glutes and lower body, in preparation for powder turns and landing well in the snow. This set offers four bands of differing resistance for a lighter or more challenging workout, and they can be used to make exercises such as glute-enhancing bridges or squats more challenging.
Buy now at amazon.co.uk
Best for snowboard skills
Spooner Pro Balance Board, £85
The curve, size, and shape of this cool little balance trainer are intended to recreate the feeling of snowboarding – and surfing, and skateboarding. It helps boost core muscles and balance – for both skiing and snowboarding – but where it comes into its own is for practising fun tricks and spins that will help on piste and in the terrain park. Children can get involved too, with the Spooner Freestyle board for kids aged two to eight years ($45). Spooner ships worldwide, and the board is also due to launch in the UK in summer
Best for more yoga in your life
Liforme Yoga Mat, £100
Practising yoga helps with balance, core strength and being focused and in the moment and, as shown by the growing number of ski/yoga holidays, and the professional athletes that incorporate it into their routines, it’s very useful for skiers and snowboarders. This innovative yoga mat with idiot-proof markings etched onto the surface takes the guesswork out of yoga positions, making it easier for beginner yogis to get them right and improve faster. Also helpful is the reassuringly non-slip surface, thanks to the sweat-absorbing open cell structure of the top layer. A travel version is available for £85.
Buy at amazon.co.uk
Best for strength
TRX Home 2 Suspension Trainer £170
This portable suspension trainer is amazing for building core strength, boosting balance and improving flexibility. It is basically a strap with handles, which can be anchored in various places around the home, including a door frame. Exercises using the TRX enlist the forces of gravity or body weight to keep tension on the strap and create resistance, and as a result all the stabilising muscles in spine, core and hips get stronger. Ski-specific conditioning exercises are available via the TRX app.
Buy at amazon.co.uk
Best for core activation
Domyos Anti-Burst Gym Ball from, £5.99
They may be nothing new, but the gym ball – aka stability ball – is a useful and affordable bit of kit for any serious skier or snowboarder. Just sitting on its unstable surface works core muscles, but it’s also possible to adapt almost any traditional exercise to maximise the effect on the core – by putting feet on one during a plank or press-ups exercise for example, or placing it between back and wall to intensify wall squats. Be sure to pick the right size – when sitting on the ball, hips and knees should be at right angles with the floor. This one from Decathlon’s Domyos brand comes in three sizes, and there are exercise videos to follow on the the Domyos website.
Buy now at decathlon.co.uk