Rollerskiing Q&A

Q: Where I live we are roller skiers first and snow skiers second. In my estimation, most of the country is either facing this reality now or moving in that direction. Therefore from a skate perspective what do you see as being the main differences between snow and roller skiing that people should look out for and how can they adjust for them to make the transition easier?

A: Any rollerskiing is better than no rollerskiing. Do not avoid rollerskiing because it is slightly different than on snow skiing. Any rollerski time will only improve your on snow experience.

Q: Here is what I have come up with so far in my experience:

a. Seems much easier to plow snow skis by displacing too much weight forward and not so much because on rollers because the wheels are more forgiving with this.

A: Yes snow plowing is easier on snow but you get used to it on pavement.

b. With roller skiing you always get the “perfect ski” every time. With snow skiing there is much more variation to surface conditions (icy snow, deep snow, etc.). How can one train for this in the summer if at all to transition better?

A: Yes with rollerskiiing skate or classic you get perfect kick and glide every time, that is why it is nice to do. Just go do it. But when you are doing it imagine you are skiing on snow. In all sports you never what to just muscle your way through, but rather find finesse.

c. Stronger fuller leg pushes seem more critical on snow whereas on rollers you can get away more with a lighter touch due to the consistently good conditions.

A: Light is right both on snow and on pavement. Do not think about the power of the push think about complete weight transfer.

Anyways, just curious what other differences you see and how people can adjust for them while training in the non-snow months.

A: Think less, ski more.

Q: I really seem to struggle in deeper or soft snow, especially when skating up hills, I feel very inefficient with my energy output. Wondering what tips you would have for this? It seems to me that one would need to adjust their V1 technique in a certain way to ski more efficiently and economically in these types of conditions. I would also be curious to understand the adjustments one would make on an extremely hard packed surface that lacks any edging.

A: First of all, a ski for soft conditions vs hard pack will help you glide through powder much better. And as we said before light is right. Think of yourself as a feather floating across the snow. Be it v1, v2, or v2 alternate all can be done on/in powder. But floating vs pushing should be the thought. Skiing is a finesse sport. Figuring how to get your ski to glide over the snow rather than to plow through it is key.

One of the easiest way to improve is to ski behind another skier and adjust your technique. If you can get behind a better skier try to match them and you will improve quickly. If you are skiing behind an equal skier try different things and see how you can improve relative to them in each stride.

I hope this helps.

– Andy @ SkiPost

About SkiPost

Cross-Country skiing’s community lodge. Where knowledge and stories are shared. The goal of SkiPost is to make the sport of Cross-Country skiing easier and more enjoyable for all who choose to participate. If you have questions on Cross-Country Skiing email us and visit

Enjoy Winter,
Andrew Gerlach
Director/Editor- SkiPost

Period Five of Training for Cross Country Skiing

Video Transcript:

We are now into period five and there are a couple of things I want to talk through before we actually talk about the specifics of training.

Number one is polarized training and basically what that means is that when we go easy or we have endurance, easy endurance training, that we actually truly go easy in our training. The goal there is to improve our aerobic capacity and then when we go hard or at higher intensity, it’s when we say we’re going to do a level four interval session, that we’re actually going really quite hard.

We don’t want to have our easy training be too hard because then we don’t have enough recovery to go hard on our hard days. Then all we do is we get more and more tired.

So we really want to make sure that we’re training polarized or when it says easy training, that we’re truly going easy, and then when we’re going level four, that we’re truly going hard. Why that’s so important right now in period five is because in period five, it’s one of our highest volume months.

With that being said, it’s very easy both in period five and period six to train too hard on our level one type training, our easy training, and actually leave our whole season far too fatigued for the rest of the competition season.

The other concept that I want to talk through is compartmentalized training or making sure that all of our training actually flows from one to the next. It’s really complementary and it’s not just isolated so that when we’re out doing distance training, we’re just doing distance. We’re also working on technique.

Everything must complement one another. This complementary training is really important. So making sure that for example our strength complements our intensity training and that’s also extremely important as we move forward.

So as we discussed – the endurance, intensity and strength type of training in this period, first and foremost, it’s high in volume. Because of that, we want to make sure our easy work is very easy and it’s also becoming more and more specific to cross-country skiing.

Again more roller skiing, a little less biking type activities. Intensity, there’s a bit of a balance between threshold and Level 4 training. We can get a little bit creative here. If you’ve trained over the years, you can actually blend the two. Maybe what you do is you do a Level 3 workout or a threshold and add – maybe it’s five minutes on of Level 3 and then maybe one minute of Level 4 at the end. That’s a creative balance or you can have very specific ones.

Another thing to do is make sure we have accelerations in our distance training, but full recovery in between. Then the strength, we’re still focused primarily on the velocity-based training and we will talk about moving back into max strength in the next period.

Determining Lactate Threshold

Threshold changes day-by-day and, with training, improves week-by-week and month-by-month. The only way to know, and “know” is a bad term to use because it is a changing value, is to take a lab test aimed at finding the threshold.

Athletes have to learn to feel the threshold as they cannot get tested everyday. The test, as well as using a portable lactate tester in training, serves to reinforce or confirm what they feel their threshold is, or what they feel their easy pace is, etc. Recreational skiers can get tests at university laboratories or sports centers for very reasonable prices.

If they aren’t interested in this, they will have to use a formula and/or go by feel.

It’s a comfortably hard pace that can be maintained for upwards of an hour and a half. Formulas are not accurate but may give you a start. A skier’s threshold is often between 80 and 90% of max (and even higher). Wear a monitor and, starting slowly, build up your pace gradually paying close attention to your breathing and heart rate. When your breathing is hard but rhythmic and in control and you feel taxed but as though you could go for a good long while then you are probably around threshold. When your breathing becomes a bit ragged and just out of control, and you feel that you could not go for very long then you have crossed over your threshold. Note your heart rate all along the way. The heart rate where you are running a bit ragged is above threshold, so error low. It can be the case that you have predicted your threshold at 175 one day but are running ragged at 173 another day.

What you hope is that you notice the running-ragged-heart rate creeping up. If it is going down, then you know you are training too hard, too much, and/or resting too little. It is a flexible value, so don’t think that this can all be boiled down to some numbers. You will have to be involved in deciding for yourself how fast to train regardless what the heart monitor tells you.

Don’t make it too complex. Easy feels easy, hard feels hard… tired feels tired. Trust what you feel, and train well.

Which Swenor Rollerski Is Best For Me?


For Classic, the Swenor Fibreglass is the most popular model – its medium size wheels roll over most rough pavement with ease and its shafts flex to make it feel like skiing on snow.

It you want the light weight roller skis and are on smooth pavement, go with laminated Carbonfibre model with small wheels.

If you want the mostly stability and a big wheel that rolls over the roughest pavement and even some loose gravel, go with the Fintech.

Swenor also has less expensive aluminum shaft options and Swenor Junior models.



Skate Elite with its laminated shaft is the most popular model. It feels like you are skiing on snow and you can even carve it around corners.

On a budget do with the lightweight aluminum Skate Long for experienced skiers or Skate for beginners.

10-14 year old can use the Swenor Skate Junior.

– Andy at SkiPost

Ways To Improve LT, VO2 Max, Economy and Strength


* also called the “anaerobic threshold (AT)”

  • Large volume of training at endurance intensity (adaptation occurs over months and years)
  • Train around the LT: 1 – 3 workouts per week over 4 to 8 weeks (adaptation occurs over days and weeks)



  • Max V02 is built through a large volume of endurance intensity training!
  • High intensity intervals (at 95% of max); 1 – 3 workouts per week over a 4 to 8 week period (adaptation occurs over days and weeks)



  • Improve Technique
  • Strength Training
  • Intervals and Speed
  • Equipment (less friction on the snow for instance)



  • General
    General and maximum strength enables the athlete to build specific strength safely and to maximum effect. General strength covers all major muscle groups, targeting the body’s core and important joints.
  • Specific
    Specific and endurance strength is of primary importance to cross-country skiers. It uses ski specific motions, intensities and duration.

Period Four of Training for Cross-Country Skiing

Video Transcript:

This training period is somewhere in between the middle of July to middle of August.

At this time of the year we’re doing more intensity work that’s becoming more and more ski-specific. Still keeping it into the threshold, primarily threshold with a little bit of Level 4 introduction.

So reflect back and make sure that those activities that you’re doing in following the plan, consistency is the most important component, but you also need to focus on quality as well. What does quality mean? Always asking the question, “Is this making me a better cross-country skier?”

So look at your training. Make sure you’re identifying strengths and weaknesses in your plan for you as an individual and making sure that they’re making you a better skier.

As we move ahead, the major change from period three to period four is actually a shift in the type of strength training that we do. We’re adding weight but we’re not adding a lot of volume of strength. We’re going to actually flip it a little bit.

Now we’re going to add velocity. So when we add velocity, we actually take weight away. We become more plyometric. Plyometrics is more hopping, jumping, skipping. But we also think about that in the upper body too. How can we become more dynamic with our upper body?

So reduce the amount of weight and increase the speed of movement. Similar activities that you are doing in the lifts but now you’re going to take weight away and now you’re going to do something very plyometric. For example, if you’re doing squats and lifting and doing squat weight, you’re doing slow and controlled with max lifting. Now you’re going to take the weight away and you’re going to do vertical jumps. Maybe you still have 10 or 15 pounds in hand but we’re moving much faster, by also making that strength functional.

The general premise of the strength, the only thing that really changes is that you’re reducing the weight, increasing the velocity of movement.

As it relates to the distance type of training, continue on the same path that you’re on with a little bit more introduction of ski-specific modality of training. That means more roller skiing, both classic and skate, as well as a good amount of footwork running, hiking, that sort of thing.

Simple hikes, you do not have to just purely run. But you can also walk or do long hikes with poles in very hilly terrain. Start to use terrain to your advantage to also introduce a little bit more strength training in an endurance side of things.

Intensity remains the same. Still doing primarily threshold-based with a continued introduction of level four type of intervals.

An Outline of Nordic Training Modes

Screen Shot 2014-08-29 at 11.45.04 AM

Skiing and Rollerskiing
Used for:
– endurance, intensity, speed, recovery, racing.
– strength (no poles skating, double-pole and single pole only sessions)

Running and Cycling
Used for:
– endurance, intensity, recovery, racing

Used for:
– intensity, speed, strength

How: Bounding can be done with or without poles. The motion should closely imitate classical skiing. To focus on strength and explosiveness do shorter intervals focusing on getting maximum distance with each bound. For intervals try to use the explosiveness, rhythm and intensity that imitates ski racing.

Ski Walking
Used for:
– intensity, endurance, strength

How: Ski walking can be done with poles, but is generally done without them. It should closely imitate classical skiing. It can be incorporated into running endurance sessions on steep and/or long uphills and be used for intervals on uphills. Poles should be about 2 inches shorter than poles used for classical skiing on snow.

Spenst (dynamic ski specific plyometric exercises)
Used for:
– developing explosive power and strength

How: The focus is on getting maximum distance on each of 10 to 15 hops. Do sets of 10 to 15 hops and take full recovery (2-3 mins) between sets. Skating spenst can be done by hopping from side to side in one place, or jumping sideways up a steep hill. Classical spenst can be done by hopping on one leg at a time up a steep hill, or by bounding with both legs up a steep hill. Be imaginative, and warm up and down very, very well.

Used for:
– developing overall maximum-strength and muscular balance

How: use a wide variety of lifts that cover all major muscle groups.

Used for:
– developing overall strength-endurance and muscular balance

How: set up a circuit of exercises that alternate stomach, back, legs, arms. Spend half a minute to a minute and a half at each station and move from one station to the next without stopping.

– Andy at