The most important thing in cross-country skiing is a clever mix of different training contents. This is how you get in shape quickly and efficiently.
The perfect mix
Skating is a very dynamic movement in which all major muscle groups of the body are evenly loaded and the organism is challenged as a whole. On slopes it can therefore easily happen that you run into the red area in order not to stop. However, many cross-country skiers do not lack the basic physical condition, especially since they are usually engaged in other sports all year round. Instead, training requires skillful alternation in order to optimally combine the factors balance, technique, intensity, endurance and strength:
1. glide, glide, glide
The answer is simple, but important: snow is smooth and slippery, a cross-country ski trail is not completely flat. Which means: Balance decides whether you can glide on one ski for a long time after the kick-off or whether you tip back onto the other ski quickly and unsteadily. If you glide longer, you not only save power, but also get further forward with every step. Simple gliding exercises should therefore be built into cross-country skiing training throughout the season, especially considering that most hobby athletes can only do relatively few ski training sessions per season. For example: skating without poles: Make sure that after the leg kick, the opposite arm is moved forward towards the ski tip of the skis and that the upper body is still upright and not bent over. Two pole inserts on one leg kick: Make sure that you glide long on one ski. Only then switch to the other side. Skating with poles horizontally in front of the body: upper body remains calm, poles always remain at right angles to the upper body.
2. Practice downhill skiing
Even if a good downhill skier with a good technique can gain a few seconds in competition: A safe stance on cross-country skis is first and foremost to prevent falls. If you feel comfortable on cross-country skis, you are much less likely to be embarrassed when it gets icy or steeply downhill, when there is an obstacle on the slope or when you are touched by another athlete in a scramble. Find a downhill route and practice downhill skiing in a targeted manner.
Plough: Practice controlled ploughing just like skiing. The legs are slightly bent, the arms loosely angled next to the body. The tips of the skis are guided inwards towards each other (about 15-20 cm safety distance), the knees are also pressed inwards so that the inner edges of the skis grip the snow.
Turning the plough: Also practice plow turning, i.e. turning in the plow with shifting the weight to the ski outside the curve. The plow is particularly useful when you are not going down in the track.
One-legged plow: If you go down in the track, the one-legged plow is the best braking technique. One ski stays in the track, the other is placed diagonally next to the track with the ski tip pointing inwards into the snow.
Downhill position upright: If you like it a bit faster and have enough self-confidence, you can go down in the track without braking. It is important to have a loose but stable position slightly in the knees with the center of gravity above the feet. Avoid too much forwards and backwards, otherwise you will not have control over the skis. Aggravation: In the track alternately lift one leg for a while and ski down on one ski.
3. Alternate stride styles in training
Experienced cross-country skiers can be recognized by the fact that they are able to alternate the stride patterns smoothly according to the terrain and are not constantly in the same mode (usually 2:1 stride with poles on the same side). It is therefore worthwhile to practice the individual stride types again and again.
2:1- Symmetrical stride: One pole insertion on two ski pushes – the skating classic. Suitable for flat terrain or slightly downhill. The poles can be used on the right or left leg push-offs. Important: Do not only practice the ” good side”, but change sides regularly!
2:1-Asymmetrical Stride: Best on difficult and/or steep terrain. One arm is the guide arm, which reaches further forward. On a sloping slope, the guide arm is used on the uphill side. Important: Do not always insert the guide arm on the same side, but alternate. And do not bend the upper body too much forward.
1:1-step: So to speak the 2nd gear! One pole is used per ski kick. 1:1 is used in slightly ascending terrain. Due to the high pole cadence you are running with a lot of arm power. This allows you to keep the speed up even in short ascents. If you can run 1:1, you have to stand well on the ski (glide on one leg). Without a well developed balance, the 1:1 therefore does not work. And also not without a strong upper body.
4. Control basic intensity
The same applies to cross-country skiing training: You make the most progress when you play with different intensities and do not always use the same effort. The special thing about cross-country skiing is that many hobby skiers are automatically intense and have a high pulse rate during skating, especially since most of the trails are at high altitudes, which places special demands on the cardiovascular system. It is therefore worthwhile to check the intensity level during moderate continuous training using a heart rate monitor and, for example, to do a workout in which the heart rate does not rise above about 80 percent of the maximum pulse (with a maximum pulse of 180, therefore, the heart rate does not rise above 144). This in turn means to control the pace in ascents and to run primarily technically clean and a little less with power.
5. Adding intervals
Just as important as the control of the basic training is to step on the gas from time to time and to run at speed and at the stop. This increases your competition speed and improves your ability to run in oxygen debt. The easiest way to raise your pulse is to run at a pace or interval. Set yourself a goal (e.g. end of a climb or a tree, masts or a board), up to which you keep the pace as high as possible. After that, keep walking loosely until your pulse has recovered. Then keep your eyes on the next intermediate goal. Intervals are best run with time limits, e.g. 3 minutes fast, 3 easy, 3 fast again, etc.
6. Alternative training
Only a fraction of the hobby cross-country skiers live directly in a cross-country skiing area. This means that realistically most of them do not complete more than 10-20 days of cross-country skiing on snow per year and therefore cannot do all their training on snow. However, snowless training can be specifically adapted to cross-country skiing requirements in winter. For example, running uphill with poles, swimming (arm pulling), or a specific strength circuit in the fitness center with the emphasis on shoulders/arms and trunk/legs. You can also train your balance not only on snow. Tilt boards, semi-spinning tops, stairs or gymnastics positions are perfect for balance exercises with a little imagination.
7. Training awareness
You don’t have to try everything, but being aware of how you run yourself is always helpful. How stretched are the arms, how bent is the upper body? Or observe your ski angle. Top skiers file every millimeter, every degree of angle, which at best makes your locomotion faster. Where is your center of gravity? How hard do you run at the knees? Observe your own technique in different terrain and feel which terrain is most difficult for you.
8. Work on weaknesses
Concentrate on your “weaknesses” during individual training sessions. You always ski with the same leading hand? Then try to use your leading hand on the other side and only one pole. Or look for an appropriate slope incline in order to be able to train the weak hand as the leading hand. Do you quickly lose your balance when you take a 1:1 step and can’t glide on one ski for long? Then divide the 1:1-shape into single elements (skating without poles, two pole inserts on one leg kick) and practice them separately before you practice the whole technique.
9. Optimize equipment
Good equipment does not only bring more speed in cross-country skiing, but it is simply more fun when you are skiing with good skis, functional and airy clothing or light carbon poles with a practical loop system. New binding systems provide a more secure footing than just a few years ago and improve stability even in critical snow conditions. Anyone who has been using the same ski for several years should therefore perhaps rent a new model and then decide whether to stay with the proven material or invest in a new ski.
10. Don’t forget your food
Cross-country skiing is a moderate sport, so an exhaustive workout can last two to three hours. Remember to carry liquid and food with you during long training sessions or to plan a stop at a restaurant. And for all competitors: Train a “flying” food supply from time to time and eat a bar while running (without waving the poles in front of another cross-country skier!)
This Blog Article was made available to us by Fit for Life. Fit for Life is the Swiss magazine for fitness, running and endurance sports. Would you like to read such articles regularly? Then Click here.
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