Fall conditioning for the middle-of-the-pack Cross-Country skiers – how to optimize for the racing season

FasterSkierSeptember 11, 2003

This article is for those of you that would like to improve your standing on the result sheets this winter, or for those of you that would like to “cream” your buddies Cross-Country skiing going up your favorite Canyon or any other groomed Cross-Country track this winter.

If you haven’t already started your serious conditioning training by the time you read this article, you should not expect to see improved results until a bit later into the winter season. For those of you that have exercised well through the summer, and feel you have a good base, you should be able to go fast through the whole season.

Up until September, the focus of a Cross-Country skier should be on building a good base of general endurance and general strength. This can be done in a variety of activities, optimally in a combination of hiking, running, biking, rollerskiing/rollerblading, weights/strength, swimming and even flatwater kayaking, rowing or canoeing. Since Cross-Country skiing involves using all four limbs and the whole body, cross-training and overall body fitness is required.

However, come September, you need to start specializing in the way you are training for Cross-Country skiing. This means you need to start getting stronger and better in the motions and muscles you are specifically using when Cross-Country skiing. You also need to start preparing your cardiovascular system and body for racing.

Specific methods for Cross-Country fall training

So, what are the best summer and fall activities for specialized Cross-Country training?

1. Rollerskiing (or rollerblading with a skier’s push)
2. Uphill hiking or trail running with ski imitation strides (ski walking or ski bounding)
3. Repeated short uphill ski imitation drills with motions and rhythms as when skiing on snow
4. Strength and weight training with exercises simulating ski motions
5. Balance and coordination exercises optimally combined with core strength

Rollerskiing is by far the best method of improving your Cross-Country racing results and skills. With today’s rollerskis you are able to closely simulate snow skiing, and thus training and improving the exact muscles and motions you are using on the groomed winter surface. Rollerskiing is also gentle on your knees (especially if wearing kneepads), and will especially give you the specific strength improvements you can never gain in the weight room, on the bike or on the running trail. Rollerskiing can be done at different intensities (see below), but needs to be done on safe roads or paved bike-trails (see www.torbjornsport.com for rollerski equipment).


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