Helpful Sports to Add Variety to Your Cross-Country Skiing Training

FasterSkierAugust 9, 2022
Above the Arctic Circle: Ruka, FIN is blanketed in frost and fresh snow for the opening of the World Cup season in November 2021. (Photo: NordicFocus)

Finland in March for the long days, Chile in the autumn, and Germany in the winter stand out as top skiing destinations around the year. However, even the most avid cross-country skier can’t always hop around the world to land in the best spots. Being distinctly weather-dependent, there are perfect times of the year to get into the sport, leaving the rest of the time prime for improving away from the snow.

As cross-country skiing isn’t readily available all of the year, or even in many places, it’s not a bad idea to take up another sport for the down seasons, but one that promotes your ability to succeed in skis. So, after reviewing what you need to bolster, we’ve got some sports that will improve your cross-country skiing.

Johannes Høsflot Klæbo skis through the rounds to finish second in Ruka. (Photo: NordicFocus)

Tenants of fitness for cross-country skiing

A worthy entrant on the list of the ultimate endurance sports, cross-country skiing goes well above the demands of the more commonly-cited endurance sports. It’s far more upper-body intensive than marathon running, and the heavy snow offers more resistance than open water swimming or rowing, with you needing to move around your whole body weight at the same time.

On top of the physical effort that’s required, you’ve also got to do it in freezing temperatures while also trying to keep balance on two long twigs and often at high altitudes. So, it’s absurdly taxing on your lower body, upper body, and cardiovascular system. It’s very tough to replicate elsewhere, but other sports do hit many of the same points that can strengthen you for your next trek.


If you do it right, boxing ticks all of the boxes

Many think of boxing as a sport of punching, which is understandable. In practice, footwork, lower-body movement and strength, and power in your core are the main drivers of ability. Plus, few things are more stamina-sapping than blocking – or taking – punches for a minute before trying to then throw some of your own.

One of the biggest names in boxing right now is the absurdly powerful Savannah Marshall. The towering middleweight is 12-0 with a near-unheard-of 83.33 per cent knockout rate. All of this comes from her natural strength and willingness to train full body power. Over the years, Marshall has posted several snaps of her rigorous workouts, which notably feature kettlebell exercises and taking on the hefty dunes at the beach. Training in this way is great for lower-body strength and cardio.

The WBO World middleweight champion will face what is billed as her biggest challenge yet in the boisterous Claressa Shields. While Marshall will be looking to load up on whole body strength in training, the bookies still can’t decide who’s the favourite, with the duo at 10/11 each to win the 10 September rumble in the sports betting online. If she sticks to her usual trying regime, Marshall should be considered the favourite here.

Basketball battle of the tallest nordies: Jesse Cockney takes it to the hoop past Lenny Valjas. (Courtesy photo)

Compete on the court with some basketball

For endurance, agility, strength, stamina, and particularly lower-body strength, you can’t go wrong with basketball. The need to coordinate your hands to control the ball and explode into action with jumps after sprinting makes for some intense cardio. Plus, if you’re in a competitive game, you’ll need to throw your weight around to get past others.

Professional basketball players blend strength, plyometric, and cardio exercises to become fitness monsters capable of being as strong as they are fast. One of the finest examples is the all-rounder Giannis Antetokounmpo. The ‘Greek Freak,’ as he’s affectionately known, does two hours of training each day, splitting between lower-body and upper-body, then doing all cardio workouts on Saturdays.

If you want to spice up your cross-country skiing training, give boxing or basketball a try.


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