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Fit Tips for Heli-Skiing


Dr. Delia Roberts is an Exercise Physiologist who has worked with Canadian Olympic athletes and CMH Heli-Ski guides to design an injury prevention program.  Here she offers some advice on preparing, physically, for a Heli-Ski vacation.

How to Build Your “Legs (and Back) of Steel”

“Legs – don’t fail me now!” Ever felt that way when faced with a steep tree-run? Or had to go in early on a perfect powder day because your back is aching? Luckily some pre-season exercises can help keep you feeling strong for your entire CMH Heli-Skiing adventure.

CMH Heli-Skiing in the Adamants, BC by Topher Donahue

Here are some things even the busiest of us can do to prepare for a great ski season:

  • Powder skiing relies on your thigh and butt muscles. Walking or running stairs is an excellent way to work on these. Going up will increase your endurance; going down will strengthen your legs. Take the stairs whenever you can, working up to 6 repetitions of 8 flights of stairs.
  • Lower back pain is among the most common reasons for sitting out a day. Skiing requires a strong central core, as your back and abdominal muscles create the platform (fulcrum) for weight transfer during turns. Good programs for core strength include Pilates and Yoga, but focus on proper technique, rather than big strength gains, so your body learns the correct muscle patterns.
  • Even the strongest skier is susceptible to injury with sudden force increases, i.e. falling or landing a jump. To improve your protective reflexes, imagine you are in the centre of a box with an X in it. Run or hop 2 steps forward along the X, to the top corner of the box, then 2 steps back to the centre. Repeat this along all limbs of the X, moving backwards along the limbs that are behind you.  

These will help you prepare for your best skiing experience ever. However, it is always wise to consult with your physician prior to beginning any new training regimen.

What are you doing to prepare for the upcoming Heli-Ski season?  Share your tips here with your fellow skiers.  For more information on these exercises or more advanced programs, contact Dr. Delia Roberts at or leave your comments here.


I am eagerly awaiting my January heliski trip to the Monashees! I want to be in the best shape possible for the trip, so I have been training in the following way. 
I do at least an hour of exercise 6 days a week. I have a trainer twice a week to work my legs and core strength. I surf three times a week, between 2-3 hours each session (this is primarily for fun, but it is a great core and aerobic workout). I have begun running in deep sand on the beach, and want to incorporate this at least twice a week. 
Stairs are a great idea...I just don't like running down the stairs as it seems tough on the knees. 
Fortunately, I will have 11 days of skiing two weeks prior to my heli trip, so that should be the fine tuning to get me ready!
Posted @ Monday, November 02, 2009 4:25 PM by Doug Kazanjian
Doug, it sounds like you are ready to tackle the Monashees! Did you see the photos last week on our facebook page of the current snow at the Monashees?! It's starting to look like winter out there (a far cry from your surfing terrain!) See you in January! 
Posted @ Monday, November 02, 2009 5:07 PM by Jane Carswell
I have worked for CMH for 5 years and I'm still a PI heli-skier! And proud of it!  
I know for me the strength of my legs is an issue I struggle with. These tips are great to help me get in better shape this year for some deep powder fun!
Posted @ Tuesday, November 03, 2009 1:08 PM by Becky
Core Core core - yep has saved me many times skiing those long CMH runs! I like the inflated balls 
working the core- they have them at the lodges and are nice for streching out those sore lower back muscles!Just recieved my CMH 10 calender and ready to train!
Posted @ Thursday, November 05, 2009 7:56 AM by candace kramer
doing the P90X work outs- big variety- yoga,plyometrics, weights, also consult with dietician to eat correctly- supplement these work outs with road and mountain biking plus swimmimg- should be ready to ski deep-deep pow. open to any suggestions to fine tune the work outs.
Posted @ Friday, November 13, 2009 10:23 AM by steve phippen
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