This gem of a Wednesday Workout comes from U.S. Ski Team Development Coach Gus Kaeding. Ready yourself for the complete menu of the U.S. Cross Country Team’s core exercises.
This spring, the USST coaches sat down to discuss the strengths and weaknesses of our program. One of the areas we identified for improvement was core strength. We felt there was still a gap to our Scandinavian competitors. With the help of the USST strength staff, we have created and implemented core activation exercises to be done before ski workouts as well as strength workouts that are almost entirely core oriented. This Wednesday workout will look at how the U.S. Ski Team views core strength and how to put together a diverse core progression.
Personally, I used to think of core strength as endless crunches and 300 (movie) style abs. But with guidance from our strength staff, my definition has broadened and become more movement based. I now think of core strength as any movement that relates to the kinetic chain connecting our hands and feet. In general, the USST strength programming has become less focused on specific muscles and much more about strengthening larger movements. Our core progressions are an extension of this.
Though many of the A & B Team athletes are still working to improve their core strength, this is one area where our D Team skiers are noticeably behind. This manifests itself visually not only in the gym through their quality of movements, but also on the ski trails with technique and overall efficiency. Additionally, skiers with stronger cores are often able to better link their movements and double pole or V2 farther up hills. If a strength exercise isn’t translating into success (direct or indirect) on the ski trails, it probably isn’t worth doing. Below are all of the core exercises the USST athletes currently rotate through. To keep sessions from getting repetitive and stale, coaches/athletes generally pick one exercise from each section (Ex. One exercise from “Floor Based Core Sessions”, one exercise from “Locomotive/Standing Core Sessions” etc….) for a total of 5 exercises. A quick warning, some of these exercises are quite advanced and require a progression to be built into. An exercise like the “Hanging Hip Up (#57)” is difficult for even our most senior athletes. For beginners, I’d start somewhere else. As always, quality movements should be the emphasis!
The USST Core Strength Menu