Types Of Ski Workouts To Substitute For Cycling

Q: Can you please elaborate on what types of typical ski training (workouts) can be substituted for cycling? Is there a ratio to use when swapping workouts for cycling?


We know that skiing uses the whole body for the workout, in comparison to that, biking= MTB uses 2/3 of the muscles and cycling = road biking uses only 1/3 of all the muscles in the body. Therefore we can use something called CYCLIC HOURS. The name is not related to cycling/biking. It explains the amount of work for your body in a certain time period. Simply said, if I ski L1 for an hour, it equals to 3 hours in L1 on a road bike or 2 hours on a mountain bike. This is very simple way how to adjust workout hours in low intensities L1 and L3.

Just a note, running still has the same ratio of muscle involvement as skiing, even though it is not entirely truth through muscle involvement, however, there is no rest in downhills, so it equalizes.



The problem with Cyclic Hours comes up when intensity is introduced. We cannot simply multiply the time of the intervals by 2 or 3 due to anaerobic availability of our body and also not to loose speed and agility for skiing. In that case, it is the best to be creative and use different terrains.

For example, for 40 x 1min L4 w/30s break we can leave it that way, but perform it on flat, where we will have the bike in the lightest gear and for 1 minute bike like an insane person or a hamster on a wheel, then coast for 30s. This way, we are still working on fast motion of the feet and quick reactions rather than physiological advancing.

On the other hand, for example 8 x 5 min L4 w/ 2 min break is the best to perform in very very steep uphill and use appropriate gear and use the 2 min break to descend. This way we perform just the same physiological output and will gain same physiological advantage as on rollerskis or skis. The technical part of this lays in the fact that we are not loosing speed or agility or climbing mental skills.

– Eliska Hajek Algrigtsen

Period Three of Training for Cross-Country Skiing

Video Transcript:

One of the things that this time of the year is really good to do is do a check. What does that mean? Do a baseline check whether you do an uphill run or an uphill roller ski time trial as well as maybe some double pole test or a general strength test.

But the question you always have to ask yourself, “Is the training making you better?” If not, then you need to think about how I’m going to personalize my training to do so.

So don’t just follow the training blindly. Every four to eight weeks, do some sort of a check to see if you’re actually improving in your ski training. So this is a great time of the year to first start with a baseline test to see if you’re improving in your strength, improving in your technique as well as your aerobic fitness whether an uphill run or a roller ski time trial uphill.

One of the main transitions we do is in strength. In strength, we move from general resistance strength into what we call more of a max strength type of training. What we want to do is keep the load low and the actual resistance high. What does that mean? It’s that we’re thinking about repetitions so we’re in the very low numbers. Usually below 10 for sure but usually around 5 reps. But adding a little bit more weight. Why is that important? Because what we’re trying to do is we’re trying to actually increase our strength without increasing the hypertrophy per se.

We might get a little bigger if that is a goal of yours. What you want to do is target repetitions between 8 to 15 with resistive loads that actually are to failure but if we’re actually looking at increasing strength and max strength, we’re going to keep it below that for the lower body. Maybe we’re doing squats for six – five or six reps, relatively high weight with full recovery. And we’re not going to failure. Same with the upper body. So relatively high weight but low in volume.

Intensity, we start to focus a little bit more on adding in some what we call level four or max VO2 intensity. It is something that you can sustain for about 12 minutes. So it’s pretty hard and maybe think about as you introduce level four training, that it’s more of like a 10-kilometer distance pace. It’s little bit more conservative than just going all out what you would pace for a 15 or 12 or 15-minute time trial.

As it comes to distance training, over distance type training becomes more and more important. What does that mean? It depends on what your level of training is. That could be anywhere from two hours all the way up to six hours in duration for a single event. Think about doing these primarily on foot, meaning running or roller skiing. So maybe do one-third run, one-third classic, one-third skate. That’s a good opportunity to really build into moving, into a trend of more ski-specific activities.

Volume increases. As volume increases, be really conservative on the amount of intensity that you’re doing. Recovery is extremely important. Sleep well. Eat well and think about eating well before you train because that’s the first step in your training. Eat to train, not the other way around.

Most important at this time of the year also is to remain hydrated. Build fluids into every single workout that you’re doing. If it’s under an hour to an hour and a half, water is sufficient. But make sure you’re getting a sport drink if you’re doing anything longer. Make sure you’re getting in electrolytes, salts, so that you can replace and replenish.

What should the time period be between AM and PM workouts?

Q: Could these be grouped together as one long workout or are there more benefits in spacing it out?

A: The AM workout is usually the main workout of the day, and the harder one. Usually, it takes 4-5 hrs to fully recover and be ready for the second workout of the day.

You can move one of the workouts to one of the rest days. Take the easier of the two workouts, for instance, a ski with a few sprints during it, and move it to the Thursday or Monday rest day. Make sure you monitor your feeling during the workouts, and if you are feeling run down from all the workouts, don’t hesitate to take a workout off or an easy day. Rest is just as important as the workout itself. The only way to improve your fitness is to allow your body to adapt to the training stresses.

Good luck and have fun out there!


Period Two of Training for Cross-Country Skiing

U.S. Ski Team Development Coach, Bryan Fish addresses early spring training.


Video Transcript:

Welcome to period two of training for cross-country skiing. Here we are in mid-May to mid-June, approximate time, and one of the things that you really want to focus attention on is running.

I know a lot of people don’t like to run but if you can introduce that and incorporate a strong amount of running and maybe even walking with poles to engage not only the lower body but the upper body, this is a great opportunity to really focus on a ski-specific modality that is also general as well.

When you’re doing your distance training, you should be introducing roller skiing at this time of the year. You don’t have to do a lot of it but make sure that you’re getting out on your roller skis about once or twice a week.

Think about the upper body. A lot of times we do running and cycling as cross-training activities. A lot of times we’re not focused on the upper body. So think about double poling and paddling as well.

When it comes to intensity, this time of the year, we should be focusing on the intensity more, on the – what we call threshold. Threshold means something that you’re actually training and can sustain for about 45 minutes of time. You don’t need to do a sustained 45-minute interval. Break that into pieces. Maybe you’re thinking somewhere between five and eight-minute intervals with a little bit less recovery in between. Keeping the intensity again relatively low. Also in intensity, you should be thinking about doing some speeds or accelerations. What are accelerations? Those are times of about 5 to 30 seconds of on-time with full recovery in between.

Again it’s really more about movement, really focusing on speed of movement instead of actually increasing the heart rate. Focus on the threshold type training for the heart and then the accelerations for the movement of the sport.

As it relates to strength, this time of the year we’re still working on general strength. You can add resistance now. Again functional activity is very, very basic movements. But now add a little bit of weight. A lot of times people get a little bit concerned about adding weight or thinking they’re going to “hypertrophy” or build. Focus on activities that are a little bit lower intensity. Hypertrophy happens typically when we do strength to total fail. So if you’re doing something that goes all the way to your full potential, that’s when you start to build muscle. So stay below that.

Related Post: Training Periods for Cross-Country Skiers

Training Periods for Cross-Country Skiers


Recover from the physical, mental and emotional stresses of training and racing. Complete rest is fine, but active rest is better.

Begin building into your modes of training.


Base training is so called because it is the base upon which later phases of training are built.

Aerobic endurance is the number one component of cross-country ski racing, and it is the component of ski racing which takes the most time to develop. It is the primary aim of the base training period.

2hr rollerski or run split between level 1 and 2 or a 3hr bike on hilly terrain split between level 1 and 2.

Please note: about 80% of all training is endurance training. The rest is strength, intervals and races, etc.


  • General: power and strength-endurance are built on max strength. General strength develops overall tendon and muscle strength necessary to support latter forms of training. General strength is the focus through the spring and summer.

After building up to weight training for 5-6 weeks, include some ski specific high weight and low rep work.

  • Specific: specific strength becomes more a focus later in the summer and into the fall once a solid base of general strength has been established.

Endurance session using only double pole over gradual terrain.

Most intensity should be below the lactate threshold early in the summer. Anaerobic training such as speed is good, but hard aerobic and anaerobic intervals should be kept to a minimum early on.

2×10 minutes at 5 bpm below LT with 2 minutes rest between intervals. Start with 1-2 sessions a week.

Technique and Speed:
Speed training during the base period should not be done at a hard intensity (short bouts of speed with full recovery are recommended) and should be oriented toward using correct movements at race speeds – not at moving at an unrealistic pace.

Incorporate 10-20sec bursts of speed into your endurance training.


Training becomes quite specific to the motions and intensity of ski racing. Aerobic endurance is still the primary focus, but the means to develop it have become more specific and more intense.

Training volume levels off or even decreases slightly to allow for the increase in intensity. Most of the training volume is aerobic endurance training – low intensity training of medium to long duration.

Rollerski or run almost exclusively in level 1.


  • General: general strength takes a back seat to specific strength. Max strength is the general strength focus in this period (for only 4 weeks). Strength endurance is the primary concern of a skier, but power and max strength cannot be neglected.

Circuit using body weight exercises and more ski specific motions. Include some fairly ski specific max-strength exercises as well.

  • Specific: rollerski specific strength sessions are the primary forms of strength training and should be predominantly endurance based. Skiers should also incorporate plyometric, explosive jumping exercises into their strength routine during the pre-competition phase.

10 x 200m single pole, 10 x 200m double pole. Distance double pole session over all terrain.

During the Pre-comp phase, duration and intensity of “intensity” training should reach levels similar to competition. High intensity (VO2, above threshold) intervals are used. This type of training must be built up to, to be effective.

(LT) 2min, 3min, 5min with equal recovery, times 3 at LT. At the end of each interval you should feel like you could have kept going. At the end of the workout, you should feel like you could have done more. (VO2) 5x5min with half recovery at 95% of max (target heart-rate will not be meet until the second interval). Each interval should take you the same distance.

Technique and Speed:
All training is technique oriented. Speed training is a great way to train the anaerobic system, but also to learn to ski relaxed and with smooth technique at a challenging pace.

10-20 x 20sec incorporated into an endurance session.


The transition onto snow demands a decrease in training intensity because of the increased load of snow skiing. Training volume usually peaks during this phase of training.

Endurance sessions strictly at level 1. Intensity can be done on foot rather than skis.

Christmas Stars and Thanksgiving Turkeys: skiers who do not monitor their training intensity properly during this phase often unwittingly raise the overall training load too quickly. The result is often a short-lived spike in fitness followed by a long-term decrease in race performance. Racers who peak early are known as Christmas Stars or Thanksgiving Turkeys. Example for the early snow period of the pre-comp phase.


Proper base and pre-competition training leads to a high level of fitness, which leads to consistent races all year long. A properly trained skier should be able to aim at a certain block or a few blocks of races throughout the season and still compete consistently at a high level throughout the season.



Training volume must rise after a block of key races where the volume will have been lowered.

1.5hr session mostly in level 1.

Races and interval sessions must be balanced, but intervals cannot be neglected especially early in the race season. Be careful with intervals between race weekends, especially at altitude, as it can be hard to recover.

(LT) 3×7 min at 5 bpm over LT with 3 minutes rest. At the end of each interval you should feel like you could have kept going. At the end of the workout, you should feel like you could have done more. (VO2) 3min, 4min, 5min times 2 with equal recovery. Each interval should take you the same distance.

If not done systematically, must be incorporated into distance or interval work.

Specific Strength:
For strength to continue to progress, specific strength must be conducted on snow as it was done on rollerskis early in the competition period.

General Strength:
Circuit strength that aims to maintain max strength and power as well as a general muscular balance is important. Rollerboard can be used here and with all circuit strength.

Circuit using a wide variety of body weight exercises as well as more dynamic exercises to maintain power.

Results are secondary to continued technical and fitness improvements.



Training volume drops. Training frequency (number of training outings) can remain unchanged to avoid feeling stale.

(Frequency) lower the duration of endurance training but keep the number of sessions the same; (duration) lower the number of sessions but keep the duration the same.

Sharpening intervals. Fitness has been gained; intervals now are for feeling sharp and fresh, not improving fitness level.

(Peaking intervals) 3×3 min just below LT w/ equal recovery, followed by 3×2 min above LT w/ equal recovery, followed by 4×30 sec all out with full recovery.

Same idea as with intervals.

Minimal maintenance strength if any at all.

Achieving your racing goals is the focus.

Please note: It can be good to bump up to a high(er) volume of training between important races so long as the intensity is kept very low. Sometimes using alternative methods of training, running, cycling, etc is a good way to do this. This helps keep the skier fresh, keep the muscles “clean” and “clear.” You have to know yourself to monitor this.


Source: The Ski Post

New Training Season: the steps to go through

U.S. Ski Team Development Coach, Bryan Fish breaks down the steps athletes should go through at the beginning of a new training season, as well as how to gradually get back into training after spring.

Video Transcript:

Welcome to a new year of cross-country ski training. Before you start anything, I recommend going and getting a general screening that would include both a clearing from your doctor as well as going through a blood screening and a functional movement screening.

That will help outline and understand what your unique limitations may be so that you can safely train through the whole year.

As we start the new year, the first thing we really want to focus on is setting a good baseline and what that means. After you do your testing and get a good establishment of what your limitations are – go back and start from scratch. That means basic functional movement, focusing on general strength, doing activities that are broad-based without weight, really making sure that the body is reset for the next year.

General endurance training is really important. You still may have snow in your community. If so, take advantage of this opportunity so that you can go out and ski and continue to improve your technique. If not, focus on general activities such as running, biking, going for hikes, going for paddles, those sorts of things. Make sure you not only reset the body but also reset the mind so that you’re ready to do specific training in the future.

As it comes to recovery, this is a real important time to focus on a great deal of recovery. That does not however mean that you don’t do any strength or any intensity. At no point of the year do you want to do zero of any type of training. You just want to reduce.

So again, strength should be very functional, no weight, lots of activities, intensity. Maybe do it every couple of weeks just to keep a baseline so that all that intensity that you’ve built up from the year before and the season you just came off of is still developed and continued on into your next year.

Related Post: Training Periods for Cross-Country Skiers

Ski Travel: Baggage Tips

XCSkiWorld has developed this resource of airline policies with regards to the specific needs of XC skiers traveling with ski gear. International readers are asked to note that the information presented is specific to North American based airlines and may or may not translate to international carriers. All readers with recent experiences or information on this subject to contact our offices so that we can continue to keep the XC community up-to-date with info on the subject.


Remember that airline security rules are firm when it comes to flammable wax supplies — most notably wax cleaners, spray klisters, and some spray fluoros. It is exceptionally wise to study the containers if in doubt and simply plan to buy supplies at your destination when you know something like a wax cleaner is going to cause problems.

Nearly everyone we’ve talked to in the airline industry advises contacting specific carriers before you travel to make sure of baggage limits and requirements. Unfortunately, since so many airlines officially state one thing and practice another “in the field”, the best advice is to actually contact the airline counter of your departure city and find out what their policy is on the ground. This might not mean you’ll get the same treatment when you return from your destination, but it’s a better bet than talking to a faceless customer service rep reading from a computer screen.

Seasoned XC travelers will tell you that the very best way to avoid hassles and fees is to pack only what you need on ski trips. An Olympian might “need” a whole carload of skis but even for major citizen races, most skiers will do fine with a max of 1-2 pairs of skate and/or 1-2 pairs classic. If you are on a holiday trip, just take one pair of each and plan on adjusting techniques to fit the conditions. Same goes for waxing gear (which often can weigh much more than skis). Stick with the essentials and borrow or rent gear on the ground when you can.

In terms of packing, a good tactic for keeping skis not only compact but also safe is to tape all your skis together before slipping them in your bag. To avoid getting tape residue on the skis, wrap first with a piece of cloth. 3-4 pairs of race skis nestled together are not that far away in width from downhill boards. The tape also has an added benefit of preventing slippage which often is the worst culprit in scratches during air travel. Make sure to have a travel coat of wax on your glide zones and do not forget your ski ties! A light coat, jeans or other tough piece of clothing stuffed in the ends of your bag will help prevent damage when the bag is put on one end or the other. Finish things off with clothing wrapped around the sides of the skis and poles to help cushion the bag throughout the trip. Be aware that if you get too carried away with the clothing wrap that it can raise the eyebrows of airline personnel if your bag looks enormous. Compaction straps can help reduce the sheer width which can avoid getting your bag flagged as “too big”.

For poles, a good lightweight PVC or cardboard pipe to protect the shafts is usually all you need. Try to get a tube that isn’t too big to help with the overall width problem. If you have an actual hardshell ski tube carrier, you skip the need for the poles to have added protection so that saves weight and room.

Good ski bags are worth their weight in gold and well worth the cost if you plan on traveling by air quite a bit. Many of the nicest bags come with wheels on one end which is a huge help especially when you have a long walk thru airports or train stations!

Even better than really good ski bags for some folks (and not all that more expensive) is to opt for one of the hardshell ski cases you can find at some XC retailers. The hardshells come with wheels for easy transport but what really makes them valuable is that many airlines will often only pay up on broken equipment claims if you use a hardshell. You often can’t get as much extra stuff like clothes in a hardshell without making packing a huge pain…but they do provide a measure of safety for your gear that almost no soft ski bag (no matter how well packed) can match. Note that it is always a good idea to toss in a small ski bag so that you have something to use for short to/from trips to skiing once at your destination.

Talking with a few airport personnel over the years, the biggest things you can do to make sure your bags are checked without hassle are to be nice to the gate agent and keep the weight of the bag well within limits. If the agent won’t pull a back muscle picking up your bag, they are less likely to enforce even the most stringent of official rules.


Once upon a time, xcskiworld.com maintained a list of all the major U.S. airlines ski-specific baggage policies. However, these days policies are changing literally every few months with added baggage fees and new restrictions. So your best advice is to visit the airlines you are traveling on and print out their policies when you buy your ticket. Actually, in some cases you may want to price in the cost of the bag fees BEFORE you decide on a ticket since some airlines can be so spendy with added fees you are better off buying a slightly more expensive ticket on another airline with better bag policies!

If you have particularly complicated travel with different airlines, it will pay to map out when and where you’ll face bag fees before you lock in any itinerary. Whereas the actual airline tickets might be a couple hundred dollars cheaper with one scenario, if you jack up your bag fees versus a more expensive ticket — you might be better off with the latter option. So always factor in the bags with any air travel these days.

Traditionally, skiers have been allowed one ski bag AND one boot bag to count as just one piece of checked luggage with most airlines. This was in place specifically for alpine skiers — but it was a huge benefit for XC skiers. We could put several pairs of XC boards in the allowed ski bag and then put both CL and FS boots in the allowed bonus boot bag plus some clothes. Now that policy seems to be on the chopping block with some airlines so take advantage of it when an airline still has the old rules in place. Also note that on some carriers skis are now getting a mandatory extra-extra fee similar to oversize luggage. Again, it will pay for you to shop around to see where you are hit with the highest fees. Weight as well as length are both considerations in the various policies.