TrainingThis Is How The VO2 Max King Is Training

FasterSkierMay 23, 2005

Source: — Translated by Torbjorn Karlsen

Many people view the maximal oxygen uptake as the most important performance factor for cross country skiers. This is how the VO2 Max king Espen Harald Bjerke is training.

Bjerke changed his training this season and believes that the changes are part of the reason for the progress.

– I was in the past very focused on separating the distance sessions from the hard workouts. The hard workouts were hard and the distance workouts were easy, says Bjerke.

Bjerke believes however that the distance sessions became too easy and this is where he made the biggest changes in his training. He is now doing more distance sessions that are pretty hard and is no longer so focused on controlling the heart rate during distance workouts.

– I looked at how the older generation skiers like Anders Aukland has trained and copied some of that.

Bjerke is doing 10-day cycles that are pretty similar both summer and fall. He is doing three “low threshold” or intensity “3” (82-87% of max heart-rate) workouts in each cycle. These workouts are each up to 1.5 hour long. He is in addition doing one hard session at intensity 4-5. The rest of the endurance training is distance sessions of varying intensity, often in tough terrain without a heart-rate monitor.

Not all the distance sessions are easy, says Bjerke.

His hard foot workouts are mostly done as “moose-hoofs” or bounding/running/walking with poles in uphills.

Espen is doing better in classic than in skating, but is focusing on improving his skating. His hard rollerski workouts are therefore mostly done as skating.

He is doing 80-90 hours per month in the summer and fall. He is reducing the volume a little at the end of the fall.

– I’m reducing the volume a little at the end of the fall due to all the altitude training we typically do at that time of year. It’s important to be careful at altitude.

Bjerke changed his training, but believes that other factors also are important for success, especially rest.

– I have been very attentive in making sure that I get enough rest. The more I train the more I rest. I have quite a few off/rest days and try to rest before I get tired.

Bjeke is using July last year when he trained 92 hours as an example. He had six rest days and didn’t do anything but training and slept between each workout.

Editors note: Before you start to train like Bjerke please have in mind that Bjerke has been training hard since he was 16-years old (see the story below for details). He has gradually built up tolerance to do close to 800 hours per year and the tolerance to handle hard sessions that lasts up to 1.5 hours plus other weekly hard sessions. You need to have a very good feel for the right pace, what’s just right and what’s too much when you are training like Bjerke. Structured interval sessions might for most skiers be easier handle? (shorter and requires less “feel”)

It is also interesting from an outside observers point to add up Bjerke’s weekly hard training and compare this to “the extreme” high number of interval training done by Marit Bjorgen and the other members of the Norwegian women’s team. Yes, there are many differences, but also some similarities. This might become an upcoming “The Club” topic.

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