If you’re planning to hit the slopes this year, ideally you should prepare your body for a few weeks in advance, to ensure your muscles are ready for the extra activity you’ll be undertaking. This will reduce the risk of muscle strain and leave you with fewer aches and pains at the end of the day, meaning you can spend more time on those skis and board. Mark Warner have been running ski holidays for over 35 years and we spoke to Matt Davis, Manager of the Chalethotel L’Aiguille Percee in Tignes, to gather his top tips on how to prepare yourself for a holiday on the slopes. “The better prepared you are for your trip, the better it will be, so definitely make sure you’re fit and ready for your ski or snowboarding holiday. Here are my top tips, but do bear in mind that both skiing and snowboarding require the use of different muscle groups. Snowboarders will rely more heavily on the calf muscles, whilst skiers need to focus on strengthening and stretching the thighs and upper legs.” Matt’s Top Ski and Snowboarding Preparation Exercises…. Lunges Lunges will help to strengthen your thighs and prepare them for the additional impact they will be facing on the slopes. Step around two or three feet forward with one foot and slowly lower the opposite knee towards the floor. Let that knee touch the ground and then stand up again before repeating on the opposite side. Make sure your body stays as straight as possible throughout each lunge. Build up repetitions of these over time to keep your thighs strong and mobile. Side to side jumps It’s not often you will be faced with the side-to-side motion that skiers face on a daily basis, so it’s worth familiarising your legs and body with the movements to reduce your chance of injury. Simply mark a line on the ground with tape or a low bench and hop from one side to the other – first hopping from one let to the other and then using both legs. Squats Squats are perfect for building endurance in the thigh muscles, particularly the quadriceps, which will be under more strain when snowboarding or skiing. A good way to work on these is by standing around 12 inches from a wall and leaning your back against it. Bend your knees to a 90degree angle with your back still leaning on the wall. Hold for around 30 seconds at first and then gradually build this up to 3 minutes. Balance It goes without saying, that in order to stay upright, you need to be as stable. You can complete a series of mobility and dynamic stretches, which will lubricate your joints and help with your stability. As with most of these exercises, the focus here will need to be on your legs, so ensure you thoroughly stretch your calves, hamstrings, quads and hips. If you’re up for taking classes, yoga and Pilates are great for stretching your legs, improving your balance and strengthening your core. You can also practice improving your balance by placing tennis balls under the balls of your feet, not allowing any other part of your feet to touch the ground. Hold on to something for your first few tries though! Cardio Many people don’t consider cardio training before a ski holiday, but most accidents on the slopes happen in the afternoon when skiers and snowboarders are more tired, with lower concentration. Going on regular 30 minute runs in the weeks and months leading up to your trip is a great way to raise your cardio fitness to ensure you can stay on the slopes for as long as possible. Mark Warner is a leader in activity holidays across Europe. Its chalethotels in top ski resorts are hand-picked for their location and charm, and the fabulous beach resorts are in gorgeous locations and chosen for their superb watersports and tennis facilities. See www.markwarner.co.uk for more information.