Period Four of Training for Cross-Country Skiing

Welcome to period four of training for cross-country skiing.

This training period is between the middle of July and the 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, with a little Level 4 introduction.

For most, it is a time to put in the hard work for the winter. However, if you have a family vacation or other conflicts that may make it difficult to follow the plan as written, some week or workout swapping is OK as long as the big picture is kept in mind. Long story short, if you have some non-training conflicts, do your best to work around your schedule and, if need be, shift a workout from one week to next to keep life in balance.

We should continue with our ramp-up of both the intensity and the volume, but don’t overdo it. If time is tight, but you are fresh, prioritize the intensity days, strength, and over distance. If you feel run down from vacation or other conflicts, prioritize simple maintenance training. If the period is without conflict, super!

As it relates to the distance type of training, continue on the same path that you’re on with a little bit more introduction to ski-specific training modality. That means more roller skiing, classic and skate, and a good amount of footwork running, hiking, etc. 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. So start using terrain to your advantage and introduce a little bit more strength training on the endurance side of things.

The intensity remains the same. We are still doing primarily threshold-based work with a continued introduction of Level 4-type intervals.

New this month is ski walking. Ski walking is an excellent workout that is a staple of our training from now until we are skiing on snow. After that, however, we have to use it sparingly. Too much, and we are not able to absorb it and recover. If you have not ski walked before, check out this link:

We should still make sure the easy days are easy. Avoid junk training of medium-hard, not easy enough to be tolerated well, promoting recovery, and not hard enough to have the benefits of properly stressing the body with true hard training.

As you are evaluating your training and planning your workouts, think about how you are using your training plan. It should be written to be a blueprint and a guide for your training. It is not written knowing beforehand what conflicts you may have with training on any given day.


We add weight but not much volume or strength as we move ahead.

We’re shifting to more dynamic strength (lower loads, higher movement velocity). Increasing velocity makes movements more plyometric (faster and more dynamic). As we do this, we increase the speed of movement and decrease the weight.

Example: in maximal strength, where we were doing slow and controlled squats with a relatively high load last period, we now replace that with an explosive vertical jump with little to no added weight, but very explosive and functional movements.

Another way to increase overall strength during this period is via distance workouts by adding more terrain (hills) to roller skiing and running.


The fourth phase of off-season training significantly raises the intensity level (resistance and speed-of-movement). The warm-up combines mini-band movements, weighted rotations, and rope-skipping. The movement puzzle agility features one new movement and one we have already done. The strength and power circuit are where you will see the difference from the previous three phases.

Including the “MINI-LEG-CIRCUITS” (low-rep versions of the leg circuits you have been doing for the past three months) is the primary change. You will add resistance—in the form of a med-ball, a weight plate, a sand-tube, a single dumbbell or pair of dumbbells—and be quick, sharp and precise in each movement without compromising quality.

The guidelines for choosing the correct amount of weight (in the MINI LEG-CIRCUITS and all other movement elements) are simple and logical. Start conservatively and add resistance as your strength increases; you can manage the added weight without losing form. Start with approximately 10 – 15 % of your total body weight for the leg circuits and progress from there, working towards 15 – 30%.

Adding resistance while keeping the pace of the movements relatively high adds significant eccentric loading. This will create many positive muscular adaptations and is, therefore, a great idea. Still, it also entails more DOMS (delayed-onset muscle soreness), so be prepared to feel stiff and sore the day (or days) following your strength session. Using the functional movement warm-up ideas (from the past two months) before running, biking, or roller-skiing on your other training days will attenuate the negative effects of DOMS.

Phase four is a key transition month from building the basic strength foundation for speed to the high-speed and higher volume training to follow.


Each period, we will end with this advice since it is so important:

As you plan your weeks and evaluate your training, also give some thought to how you are using the training plan. It is written to be a blueprint and a guide for your training and is not written knowing in advance what conflicts you may have with training in any given week. Many weeks can be done as scheduled. However, if you have to swap days or weeks out on account of your non-training life, with good planning, it can be done with great success, provided you are giving thought to the swapping.

For example, let’s say you have a week at work where you are going to have heavy time demands and stress, and the schedule says it is the third week of the period, which is our big week. It may be best to hold off on the third week and swap it with Week 4 – our easy week to recover, and then maybe make a slight adjustment in Week 1 of the following period.

You can also swap out days on account of life outside of your training plan. Just remember, as you do that, it is ideal to follow a pattern of hard followed by easy for the pattern of days.

– Cheers, see you next month

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