Planning your Fitness

Ridges generally allow for safe travel

In my last post, I went in depth into the importance of trying to keep on skis during the summer period, and how you can use the UK based Snowsport centres to help.  That being said, the summer is also a brilliant time to try to make some physical fitness gains that will increase your performance (and fun) come the wintertime.

This post is the first of three, aimed at those that are relatively new to physical fitness training that specifically targets sports performance. These posts are also useful for those that are already fit, but have mainly been keeping fit for health reasons rather than having a structure set in place that is aimed specifically at a sport, or in our case, skiing.

I will try to keep things simple and provide some useful tips on how to plan and structure things, based on scientifically approved methods and my own interpretation and experience of these methods. Some of these methods might already be familiar to you and some might be completely new, some you might agree with some you might not.

If you do a quick Google search or go full nerd like me and use sites like pubmed.com to search for sport science journals, you will find there are a seemingly unlimited number of blogs, articles, literature reviews or scientific studies on many topics relating to exercise physiology relating to sport performance. It can be a little overwhelming if you are trying to design a fitness program and don’t have a background in sport science or fitness training. We live in the digital age where we are bombarded with information and it can be really hard to pick out what is important and what isn’t. It can be like “searching for a needle, in a stack of needles” (extra points for those that can name the film that quotes is from).

So, where do you start? I am a lover of structure, plans and lists. When starting out planning a program here is a checklist to follow that will lead to success;

1. There are 4 main areas of fitness; 

  • Strength
  • Speed
  • Stamina
  • Flexibility

These are further divided into 9 components. Identify and prioritises which of these 9 components hold the key fitness performance areas for the sport you are interested in.

  • Cardiovascular Endurance – ability of your heart and lungs to work efficiently at a moderate intensity over a long period of time.
  • Local Muscular Endurance – a single muscle’s ability to perform sustained work.
  • Strength Endurance – a muscle’s ability to perform a maximum contraction time after time.
  • Strength – The maximum force a muscle/group of muscles can apply against a resistance.
  • Agility – The ability to perform a series of explosive power movements in rapid succession in opposing direction.
  • POWER! – A combination of strength and speed.
  • Flexibility – The range of movement from, around or across a joint.
  • Balance – the ability to control the body’s position, either stationary or while moving.
  • Coordination – the ability to integrate the above listed components so that effective movements are achieved

2. Identify the correct fitness test to measure the pre program levels of fitness in these key performance areas.


3. Perform and record fitness tests – OUCH TIME!

4. Analyses the fitness test results and performa a Gap analysis, 
 comparing your results to those from the surrounding literature within your chosen sport or from previous training programs, to gain an understanding of what your strengths and weaknesses are.


5. Prepare training program based on the results of Gap analysis following the FITT principles.

  • F = Frequency – how often you should train within one Microcycle (1 week)?
  • I = Intensity – how hard to exercise in each session?
  • T = Time – how long should each session last?
  • T = Training activity – which exercise to use?

6. DO THE PROGRAM! –Check back on stage 3 of the checklist every 4-6 weeks to monitor progress and revaluate your program.

Sounds very simple when you lay it out that way…….obviously there are lots more things to consider, but at least you know what areas to start looking at. In my next post I will look more in depth at some of the different stages of the checklist. I’ll be giving details on what the key performance fitness areas are according to science (not according to boot-room chat), which fitness tests you should use and ideas as to how you should periodise your training.

Happy planning.

– Gareth Shelbourne