Quick (Pro) Workout: Double-Pole Strength Training

Alex KochonDecember 1, 2011

Note: This is the first of  a “quick workout” series, which will break down one ski-specific exercise at a time in a how-to format. We start with Canadian national team member Perianne Jones, who demonstrated a double-pole technique in her hometown fitness center.)


If you woke up this morning hoping to see several inches of white stuff and instead met a blanket of balmy air, you’re not alone. Skiers around the world are scratching their heads, trying to figure out what to do as they approach December with no snow.

Before you give up and start baking holiday cookies, consider hitting the gym a little harder and strengthening those nordic muscles. You know once you finally get on skis, you’ll wish you had worked the glutes/legs/arms/core more anyway.

Perianne Jones on a rollerski in Almonte, Ontario, in August.

If your triceps are screaming for attention, start double poling.

That’s what Perianne Jones of Cross Country Canada did during a workout session in Almonte, Ontario, earlier this fall.

At her hometown gym, the Olympian made due without a SkiErg by using the cable machine. With the rope pulley on the machine’s highest notch, she put the peg in 100 pounds and went to work.

While I’m not recommending that kind of weight (start light and add on), any amateur can modify this double-pole simulation exercise.

In an email from Europe, where Jones is racing in the World Cup circuit, she explained how to double pole on a cable machine:

1. Start by holding the knotted ends of the rope pulley in two hands, which should be elevated above your body and mostly straight.

2. “Stand with one foot in front of the other with a forward lean. Try and simulate DP-ing (double poling) as much as possible,” Jones wrote.

3. Bend your knees. Feel free to be explosive by coming up on your toes each time you bring your arms up. Each time you come up to standing, do so with control (slowly).

Cable machine rope
The cable-machine rope pulley

4. Use your abdominal and arm strength to drive the cable down, bending at the elbows, bringing the rope ends around the front knee.

5. “If you have someone else in the gym with you, it’s helpful to put a belt or band around your waist and have the other person hold it behind you so you can fully commit to your forward leaning position,” Jones wrote. (Note: I was honored to do this for her in Almonte. You might not find someone who feels as lucky.)

6. Make sure you have enough resistance.

“Use enough (weight) so that it’s hard but you are still able to do a proper DP with decent speed,” Jones wrote. “I do anywhere from 8-15 reps depending on the time of year and our strength program focus.”

(Note: For this workout, four sets is a nice, even number. Switch legs between sets and that’s two sets of 8-15 double-pole drives per leg.)

Peri’s Tip: “One thing to focus on is the initiation — (starting) with the head, and driving the elbows towards the floor.”

“The ski erg will feel more natural on the return than the pulleys,” she wrote, “but I’m always focusing on similar technique things (on rollerskis, pulleys, snow, etc).”


So think about technique, close your eyes, and imagine snow. (Just don’t whack your head on the rope or cable). Before you know it, you’ll be soaring over the white stuff with triceps of steel.

Alex Kochon

Alex Kochon (alexkochon@gmail.com) is a former FasterSkier editor and roving reporter who never really lost touch with the nordic scene. A freelance writer, editor, and outdoor-loving mom of two, she lives in northeastern New York and enjoys adventuring in the Adirondacks. She shares her passion for sports and recreation as the co-founder of "Ride On! Mountain Bike Trail Guide" and a sales and content contributor at Curated.com. When she's not skiing or chasing her kids around, Alex assists authors as a production and marketing coordinator for iPub Global Connection.

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