The Heli-Ski Blog

Fit Tips for Heli-Skiing

Posted by Jane Carswell on Nov 2, 2009 2:10:00 PM

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.

Topics: CMH, Fit Tips, heli-skiing, powder skiing