Ever fancied learning to ski, but thought that you wouldn’t be able to hack it because you happen to be overweight?
Well, I’m here to tell you that it can be done, and that you can lose weight and have great fun while you’re doing it!
In fact, some people burn up to a whopping 3,000 calories in just one day of skiing – what great potential for slimming down your waistline, and it tones up just about all of your muscles.
And the good news is that you don’t have to wait until you get skinny before you start – there are things you can start doing today to prepare you for an amazing ski trip!
In this article, we’re going to go through 6 excellent tips that will get you to those ski slopes in no time at all – read on!
Tip One – Get Your Equipment Ready
Availability Of Plus Size Ski Equipment
Let’s start with some good news – I can readily confirm that ski equipment for plus size people does in fact exist.
The bad news, however, is that if you’re planning on renting the equipment, you cannot guarantee that they will have your size in stock when you get there.
There are two ways around this. You either call up the store and arrange for them to set aside plus size clothing for you, or if you’re really serious about skiing, you can buy your own equipment.
We would argue that when it comes to clothing for skiing, the most important item is the helmet.
It doesn’t matter whether you rent or buy, so long as you wear one. The last thing you want to happen is a fall that leads to a nasty head injury – you could risk brain damage.
Ski helmets come in different sizes, and usually allow a customizable fit.
Ski boots don’t fit the same way as regular boots, for hiking and such. So if you have thick, wide legs, then your ski boot has to be designed for the right fit.
Either go for one with a wide calf or an adjustable opening in order to be able to get in.
Ideally, you should choose your ski boots before you head to the hill, so that you can first ensure a good, comfortable fit that’s safe to wear when skiing.
Length Of The Skis
If you’re overweight, then your skis need to be sufficiently long to carry your weight correctly.
But, if your skis are too long, then you may struggle to control them, especially if you’re a beginner.
We would advise you to consult with a professional in the ski equipment store to ensure that you’re correctly fitted for both your ski boots and the perfect length of skis.
Please don’t underestimate the value of warm clothing when you’re in snowy climates – it’s nothing short of crucial.
If you’re too uncomfortable because you’re terribly cold, it will be harder for you to concentrate on the actual skiing.
So make sure that you’re comfortably warm when you hit the slopes.
This becomes even more important when there’s precipitation in the air, because getting wet with either rain or snow will make you even colder.
Tip Two – Get Your Body Ready
Skiing effectively is very much about balance, and those who are relatively skinny typically find balancing easier, because unlike those who are overweight, there isn’t as much body weight to try to control.
So, if you are overweight, whether by a little or a lot, you need to prepare your body accordingly, and carry out exercise that will not only train your balance to perfection, but also tone up those muscles accordingly, so that when you need to move quickly on the slopes, you can just get on with it rather than flail about and cause damage to yourself.
So, in order to get your body to be able to balance on your skis and on the slopes, you should gradually and safely carry out exercises designed to challenge your balancing capability.
A great way to do this would be to try doing some of the more difficult yoga poses.
An important part of this, and a great place to start, is to strengthen your core.
Your core is the center of your body, the system of muscles that make up the torso, on the front, the sides, and the back of your body.
We’ll be explaining some of the exercises you can do for your core and your balance very shortly.
But that’s not all. Skiing also requires a lot of effort on the part of thigh and calf muscles, and you need to strengthen these muscle groups, because they too are central to achieving balance and skiing effectively. Exercises for this will also be explained very shortly.
Similarly, your arms will get a good workout on the slopes too, especially when you push off at the top of the slope, which requires considerable strength from your biceps and triceps.
And finally, if you plan on spending a whole day on the slopes, you have to have sufficient endurance.
This is why we also recommend that you carry out a cardio training program prior to your trip. Because if you were to tire out too early in the day, that’s almost a whole day wasted.
Exercises To Strengthen Your Core And Work On Your Balance
Planks and bridges will work most of the muscles in your body, but especially your core.
To see a 15-minute video of bridge and plank exercises, simply click on this link.
You can also strengthen both your back and your abs by doing cycling, dumbbell rows, wood chops, and back extensions or variations of these exercises.
Bear in mind that it’s just as important to work on your back muscles as it is to work on your abs – that’s why we haven’t even mentioned sit-ups and the like.
How To Strengthen Your Legs
Your inner thighs will need to hold your skis tight, while your outer thighs will help stabilize your body weight and help to stir.
You will need to get these muscles in shape by doing leg lifts, side step squats, inner thigh squeezing, side lunges, inner thigh leg lifts, and calf raises.
The calf raises are particularly important for helping you to maintain your balance on the skis.
These exercises should be done regularly, if not frequently, in order to maintain proper form.
To find examples of leg strengthening exercises, head over to YouTube and search for Pilates leg strengthening exercises.
Exercises For Arm Strength
In order to strengthen your arms in readiness, the best exercises you could do for your arms are push-ups.
Yes, I know that sounds very daunting to people who are overweight, but it can and should be done.
If you like, you can take things easy to begin with by putting your weight on your knees rather than on your toes for the push-ups.
You will also need to consider the strength of your wrists. This is because keeping a very tight hold of ski poles can lead to painful cramps.
This is why you should get into the habit of stretching your wrists, especially before heading up the hill.
How To Level Up Your Cardio Endurance
This is the most time-consuming element of it all, and it can be hard to fit into your daily routine.
But in order to build up enough cardio endurance to be able to spend all day on the slopes, you need to spend several hours every week doing cardio exercise.
For those who don’t already know, cardio exercise, sometimes referred to as aerobic exercise, is any rhythmic activity that raises your heart rate into your target heart rate zone. This is the zone where you burn the most fat and calories.
Examples of cardio exercise include the likes of jogging, running, cycling, swimming, using an elliptical, and dancing.
Ideally, you should spend at least an hour of cardio endurance exercise at a minimum of three times each work, preferably more.
And since you’ll be spending a lot of time doing it, be sure to pick an activity that you enjoy in a setting that appeals to you.
Tip Three – Book A Lesson In
We totally get how tempting it can be to not bother with any lessons and just get out there and go, especially after having spent so much money on transport and equipment and clothing, not to mention any lodge fees.
But, we can assure you that taking at least one lesson before you head out is money well spent.
In fact, we would argue that it can be quite dangerous to try to teach yourself to ski rather than learning the proper, tried and tested techniques to keep you from hurting yourself.
Although you could have a family member or friend try to teach you the techniques, we would argue that you would be much better off learning to ski with a trained and properly qualified instructor.
Using the services of a professional ski instructor will not only teach you the best technique, but will also teach you how to avoid some of the more common injuries.
They can watch and assess you to ensure that you aren’t accidentally putting your back or your joints in harm’s way.
Little differences such as getting your posture just right can really do a lot to help prevent injuries, while also increasing your confidence levels.
Tip Four – Don’t Stress, Just Be Patient And Keep At It
Let’s be real here, you’re not going to master the slopes in just one day. Learning to ski and to ski well takes time and practice.
In fact, the right way to start is actually to expect the worst.
If you expect to be freezing cold, expect to fall at least occasionally, and expect your muscles to ache, then when it does happen, not only will you be unsurprised, but you are also less likely to be discouraged.
You may at some point start to feel fed up with it all, but if that happens just head back to the lodge for a while, warm back up, and head back out there again determined to give it at least one last shot. It’s perfectly ok to take a break if you feel the need to.
I can promise you that it does get easier over time, and with a little practice you can get there.
Tip Five – How To Prevent Injuries
The most common type of injury to befall a skier is a knee injury, and it can happen to anybody, including those who don’t have any known problems with their knees, and those who are very fit and healthy.
The real key to preventing knee injuries is to pay attention to your body.
If you start to feel pain in either one of your knees, even if it’s just a tiny bit, that is your call to stop.
If you keep on pushing yourself when you’re already in pain, this could lead to greater injury and put you out of action for months on end.
And this is where Tip Three comes in handy. If you learn to ski with a professional instructor, you can learn what positions and angles put the most tension on your knee joint.
You need to avoid twisting your knees, and one way to help with this is to always keep your arms and hands in front of you.
What’s more, this will also help you to stay in better control of your descent.
Please resist the urge to swing your arms backward if you feel like you’re about to lose your balance.
Doing so will bring back your whole body and put even more tension on your knees.
If you do start to fall, be sure to keep both knees flexed, because this can prevent you from twisting your knees and causing them to tear.
You should also always keep your skis aligned with one another, and don’t ever have them turning in different directions.
Tip Six – Practice Handling A Fall
Falling on the slopes is easy – getting back up again is another matter entirely.
Sometimes your skis get tangled up, and sometimes a ski might come right off altogether, or even both of them might.
If you’ve taken our advice earlier about booking a lesson with a qualified instructor, they can walk you through the best way to get up, find your feet again, and get the boots back into those awkward bindings.
Should you fall while on the slope, just uncross your skis and push against the hillside until you’re upright.
The whole time you are doing this, be sure to keep your skis horizontal to the mountain to ensure that you don’t take off again until you’re ready to do so.
Of course, falling on flat ground is considerably easier.
You can unlock your boots from their bindings using the ski pole, and you can also use the ski pole to steady yourself to stand up before putting your skis on and going for it again.
So that just about covers it, I think, everything you need to know.
I guess the most important point here is to do a lot of exercise well in advance of your ski trip, tone your muscles, work on your cardio endurance, and challenge your balance by maybe doing some yoga.
And it’s also very important to book a lesson with a trained professional.
This can be quite a significant help because a good trainer will advise you not only on how to ski, but also on how to ski in order to avoid injury, which is crucial.
And the final important point is just to be patient with yourself – you will get there!
See you on the slopes!