Hill bounding, particularly with poles, is one of the most effective whole-body exercises a competitive cross country ski racer can do to prepare for the season. The combination of the body motions that are very similar to that of skiing on snow and the power development required for moving efficiently uphill is hard to beat for off-season ski training.
Although hill bounding can be used for many types of workouts, it is best utilized for higher intensity work such as lactate threshold and VO2 max sessions. By concentrating on bounding form you will ensure that you get the most out of this type of workout.
In the video, Colin demonstrates on the same hill that we use extensively for our training. In addition to using the grassy hillsides shown in the video, we also include longer (20-minute) aerobic and shorter VO2 max workouts up the steep cat tracks to the top of the mountain. We are fortunate to now have this hill (and mountain) right in our back yard. By contrast, when I was on US Cross Country Ski Team, I lived in Cleveland Ohio — not the most noted places for cross country skiing. However, even in Ohio there were some local alpine ski hills that were perfect for these types of workouts. I remember fondly going up and down the hills at “Alpine Valley” in the eastern suburbs of Cleveland. So even if you are not in the mountains, look for a local hill, preferably mowed, and have at it!
The whole-body, cross country skiing-like motions are central to getting the most out of hill bounding. Cardio, strength, and technique come together in these sessions and they should be a regular part of your training plan.
– Betsy Youngman
Betsy Youngman is a two-time US Cross Country Ski Olympian (1988, 1992), US National Champion, 1989 Birkie champion, and US Ski Team member from 1987 – 1992. She is now, a devoted master’s skier, coach, Betsy is a 7-time Birkie competitor. Four of her races were top-10 finishes, including one at age 55 in 2015. Outside of the ski season she pursues her other passion- whitewater kayaking throughout the Western US.