This week’s workout comes to you from Martin Benes, nordic coach of the Sugar Bowl Academy and the Far West Elite Team Administrator. In addition to coaching the Sugar Bowl and Far West teams, Benes has coached for the Auburn Ski Club, Dartmouth College, and Bates College.
This workout consists of five repetitions of five different exercises and thus is aptly named “5 x 5.” I first learned this workout from U.S. Olympic Biathlete Glenn Jobe, who was one of my coaches as a junior. More recently, we’ve worked together to enhance this workout with some dry-land and on-snow progressions.
This workout is very effective because it requires a progression of effort and speed as the repetitions continue. It forces athletes to be cognizant of their pacing while at the same time allowing them to put in a really hard effort. Many skiers who attempt this workout for the first time often make the mistake of thinking it won’t be that hard, and end up blowing up. In doing so, skiers lose the opportunity to establish quality speed training. The key is to follow the progression.
First, you need to have your location picked out. You need a steady grade that is good for moosehoofing, so that both the ski-walking and bounding feel natural. You don’t need much of the terrain as each rep starts at the same point.
Start with a 25-30 minute warm up. This should include some running, and some ski-walking. Also, throw in some dynamic stretching so that the muscles are ready for the progression of speed. You should have poles with you as you will need them for all but one of the exercises in the 5 x 5s
- The fist set of exercises are 5 x 1-minute repeats of ski-walking with poles. Start at the same place each time, the walk down is your recovery. These should be focused on good, snappy movements and staying in Level 2.
- Once you’ve done five ski-walks you switch to five bound-holds with poles. This is a plyometric exercise. Bound as normal but add a pause on each foot, allowing yourself to balance in an outstretched position. This should feel more like a strength exercise, rather than speed. Go up for one minute and then walk back down to the original starting point.
- The next exercise is normal hill-bounding with poles. The five repetitions should be 30-40 seconds each, depending on the age and ability of the athlete. Again, you will walk back down to the starting point in between each one.
- Once your hill-bounds are done, you’ll transition into running speeds with poles. The length should be 20-30 seconds. The idea is to accelerate on these so that the final 10-15 seconds are all out. Again, just walk down after each speed as your recovery.
- The final exercise is running speeds with the same accelerations, but this time without poles. These should also be 20-30 seconds long. Walk down in between each rep for recovery.
At the end, you will have done five ski-walks, five bound-holds, five hill-bounds, five sprints with poles, and five sprints without poles. Afterwards, get a cool down of 15-20 minutes in and some good stretching.