The Best Ski Resorts in Europe

PREPARE FOR THE SLOPES

Heading for snow this season? With the 2020 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics set to take place next month, there’s never been a more inspiring time to go to a ski resort. But don’t be fooled into thinking that you can hurtle down the mountains on zero fitness – priming your muscles for the snow is incredibly important. Not only do snowsports intensely work the hamstrings, glutes and quads, but they also take place at high altitudes, which means you’ll need to build some cardiovascular fitness before enduring long days on the slopes.Snowboarder Jenny Jones is here to help – the Olympic bronze medallist is running Snowboard & Fitness workshops in the French Alps, during which you’ll learn on-snow and off-snow techniques to boost your snowboard skills and fitness.Sound interesting? Visit workshopbyjennyjones.com for booking information. If You can’t make it to a workshop, no problem. We tapped the Olympic athlete for four exercises in a two-week plan that you can complete before the ski season starts to prepare your body for the slopes. Gym, here you come!

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1.Weighted squats

These are best done pre-ski season to build endurance in your quads and glutes, which are used a lot in snowsports. Also try weighted lunges. Although both feet are strapped into a snowboard, your legs constantly take forces unevenly and at different times. Lunges work one leg at a time and give you advanced lumbo-pelvic control to fine-tune technique. Start with your feet about shoulder-width apart and a dumbbell in each hand. Slowly lower yourself into a squat, by bending your knees and keeping your chest up throughout. Lower yourself as far as you can while maintaining a neutral spine, then return to the start position.

2.Box jumps

Snowboarding is fast-paced, and your body needs to be a master at shock absorbing. This exercise works explosive power, firing the same muscles as squats and lunges, but in a high-impact way. You need this form of fitness to help you land jumps or when driving through fresh powder. Start slowly and build up the repsand the height of the box as you build up your confidence and fitness levels.Choose from a low, medium or high box (from roughly 10 cm-45cm). Stand less than a foot away with feet shoulder-width apart and knees bent. Swing your arms back, then drive them forwards to jump onto the box with both feet. Land in a squat position, pause for a count of two, then jump back down. That’s one rep.

3.Crab walks

This exercise targets the gluteus medius, the main muscle that stabilises your hips. Add a band to your lower legs for extra resistance. Make sure you’re sitting into the exercise, so you don’t feel it in your hip flexors, but the outside of your hips and your glutes.Hold a large dumbbell vertically in front of your chest with both hands if you have one, and stand in a wide squat position. Your toes are pointing out at 45° and your bottom drops as low as it can. Take a small step forwards with one foot by rising a little way out of the squat but staying low. Place your foot down and lower back into the squat, then step forward with the other foot. Continue alternating your feet, taking 10 steps forward, then 10 steps back.

4.Lunges

All muscles perform at their best when they can work through a full range of motion. Snowboarding can tighten hip flexors and shorten muscles around the front of your pelvis, which can reduce their ability to function effectively. Yoga is a great way to counteract this. My favourite moves are lunges (high and low), camel pose and twisted half lizard – but there are many others you can do, too.For one version of a high lunge, begin on all-fours. Extend your left leg back and your right foot forward between your hands, making sure your knee is above your ankle, then lower your left knee towards the floor Lift your torso and raise your arms straight into the air.

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