Strength On-The-Go with Kern and KO

Ella HallMarch 10, 2021
Julia Kern (top) and Katharine Ogden (boom) keep race strong while on-the-go. (Photo: NordicFocus)

As the World Cup season winds down, FasterSkier caught up with two U.S. Ski Team athletes who’ve been living on the road all winter to learn about their strength routines during COVID. Even without a global pandemic, on-the-go strength training can be a challenge. Julia Kern and Katharine Ogden shared their approaches in the following interview: 

FasterSkier: In a typical week how many times are you doing strength? What does this look like?

KO:  I do strength 1-2 x per week and it usually involves a jog, some activation stuff like band walks etc. and then some pretty basic leg and arm exercises like weighted lunge, dips, push-ups and pull-ups. Then I do some core exercises and some indoor floor core. 

JKern: In a typical week, I do strength twice a week. One session is more powered oriented, which I do before a race weekend and the second session is more strength oriented, which I do after the race weekend. Usually I hop on the spin bike to warm up, and then do my PT exercises and activation before moving into plyometrics. If I can find somewhat dry ground outside, I prefer to do them outside, but if that is not possible on the icy roads and sidewalks, I do more stationary plyometrics inside or up and down staircases in the hotel. After that, I move into the strength specific upper and lower body exercises mostly outside except when I use the pull up bar wedged in a door frame inside somewhere. For core, I usually do TRX exercises hanging off the pull up bar inside or on a bar outside before moving inside for some final floor core exercises. 

Julia Kern enjoying sunny Davos for some outdoor strength, seen here using TRX bands. (Photo: Kern’s IG)

FasterSkier: I would imagine there’s already some variability in access to quality gyms or gym equipment  while on the road, how much have new COVID protocols changed how you would normally do strength throughout the winter?

JKern: In a way Covid has actually made strength on-the-go easier. In the past, we had our go-to gyms at every venue on the World Cup that we would have to schedule in advance on specific days. Often these were public gyms which are filled with the general public and germs, and had limited scheduling opportunities. This year our team decided not to step foot in a single gym. Instead, the team purchased two door frame pull up bars, two TRX, two sets of free weights, bands, sliders, and a med ball to make an at home/on the road gym set up. We would write in our team training plan document what day and time slot we would use the equipment, staggering by pod and disinfecting between every use. It actually allowed for a lot more flexibility since we could do strength any day at any time pretty much right out of our room. It doesn’t take a lot of equipment to get in a good workout. Body weight strength [sessions] have been some of the hardest strength workouts I have done. 

FasterSkier: Seems like you’ve been doing a number of strength workouts outside, on a scale from adventure to annoying where does this fall?

KO: I like the outdoor workouts. It’s nice to not have to wear a mask outside and it’s kind of fun and a creative challenge. It sucks when it is really cold though. 

JKern: I absolutely love doing strength outside! We were lucky enough to spend a cumulative five weeks in Davos this year, where we were outside but had a deck above us so that if it was snowing we were still covered. Stuffy, germ filled public gyms are easy to beat with strength in the fresh air. 

Katharine Ogden racing the 30 k classic mass start event at the 2021 World Championships in Oberstdorf Germany. (Photo: NordicFocus)

FasterSkier: What’s the most creative/innovative/interesting strength exercise or setup you’ve done this winter?

KO: I haven’t been doing a ton of innovating but I do like doing push ups with my feet elevated on things like an uphill, a snowbank, a bench, etc. 

JKern: Side plant slider exercises in the middle of the ski trail while doing band pulls with the band attached to a ski trail sign. This was not my idea, my teammate suggested it when I was struggling to find a smooth surface to do sliders on besides pavement. 

FasterSkier: Favorite on-the-road exercise?

Jkern: Med ball slams! Nothing is as satisfying as slamming a med ball down as hard as you can…plus it can also act as a very heavy basketball or soccer ball.

Ella Hall

Growing up in Washington’s Methow Valley, Ella was immersed in skiing and the ski community from a young age. From early days bundled in the pulk, to learning to ski as soon as she could walk, to junior racing, a few seasons of collegiate racing, and then to coaching, she has experienced the ski world in many forms. Now, as a recent graduate from Dartmouth College, she finds herself living in France splitting her time between teaching English at a university in Lyon, avidly following ski racing (and now writing about it!) and adventuring in the outdoors as often as possible.

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