Most people seek fun and relaxation in an alpine vacation instead of a workout and that is maybe where it should be. However, unleashing some crossfitters on a mountain will inevitably turn the environment into some high intensity WOD. From an intensity perspective, a typical downhill run resembles a neighborhood jog especially with the speed limits set by ski patrol. Downhill simply becomes a fun but slow long distance endurance run. Heart rate rarely creeps up above 50-60% and even that may be more due to lack of oxygen and not effort. Competitive skiers and riders know this of course and their training is of a much higher intensity than vacation warriors like us. But there is hope.
One great way to get into HIIT territory is through more intense terrain. Tabata moguls may be the toughest workout you can get on a mountain. 8-12 rounds of 20 seconds moguls with a 10 second rest. Repeat a few times every hour. The same could be accomplished in a forest run, though the trees and cliffs may dictate a different work/rest pattern than prescribed.
Despite the burn we all feel in our legs after a day in the snow, there is surprisingly small portion of the total day is spent actually working out. If we take out the queues, lift rides, traverses and lunch breaks maybe 30% of the time is actually skiing. Most of it is like jogging. Let’s get some tabata intensity back into this vacation sport.