Arms Cramping After Long Sections of Double Polling

Q: I had some difficulty with the arms cramping after longish sections of double polling last year. Assuming that one does not have a double poll machine – are there any simple dry-land exercises that can help with this muscle set? Pull-ups seem pretty good – but not exactly right.


A: Simple Double Pole Exercises

Regular body weight exercises are great to start with for strengthening the upper body for double poling. These include the basics: pull ups, dips and push-ups. In the fall, if your training plan transitions to more power-based exercises, the clean and press is a good whole body exercise that incorporates explosiveness in the upper body. You can skip the lower-body and just do overhead presses also.

Another simple method for double-pole specific strength is to get any type of resistance tubing (Nordic Shock Cords, for example) and affix it to high structure, such as the top of a door-frame, or a tree branch outside. Grab either end of the bungie and practice exercises such as single-stick (diagonal stride arms) and double-poling. This acts as a cheap, portable double-pole machine that is effective for upper body strength and endurance.

Dry-land Drill Examples – Video

Swedish Study on the Effects of Drafting and Air Resistance in Nordic Ski Racing

MITTUNIVERSITY in Ostersund has been investigating a study on the effects of drafting and air resistance in Nordic ski racing. Researchers are trying to figure out how much energy and power cross-country skiers can save when they tuck in behind other skiers. Researchers and athletes have reason to believe this can make a huge difference in mass start races.

An ongoing research study is looking to see how much energy and power can be saved by skiing behind others. “Drafting” is not a new concept, and proper drafting techniques are commonly practiced in cycling, however, to date cross country ski sports scientists have yet to prove its relevancy for Nordic racing.

“I absolutely believe that you can benefit from the study, since you can not only focus on how much you can save on skiing behind but also for the one in the very front – how can I optimize my race to give as little benefit as possible to those behind, says Mats Ainegren.

“We want to look at different speeds, because the air resistance increases at higher speeds, and then we want to see what speed has a significant impact,” says the associate professor of sports technology, Mats Ainegren.

The study called for 10 men and 10 women of elite and semi-professional racers, and will release the results in the fall of 2017, just in time for the 2017-2018 race season.

“It’s no news that it’s easier to ski behind, but I think, on the other hand, that you can develop the technology to be first and not loose anything. Sometimes it difficult to be second and third, – so the trick is to find the right method.” – says Jerry Ahrlin.

Source: SVT Sport


Components of Endurance Training for Skiers

Endurance training can be divided into four areas: Basic, Speed, Anaerobic and Endurance-Strength.

Basic endurance training is for improving aerobic capacity and impact tolerance. Such sessions occur at 60-75% maximal heart rate (or, Level 1), depending on the skier’s experience and level. At least one long basic endurance session should be included in your weekly schedule. Basic endurance training should increase gradually throughout the basic endurance period.

Speed sessions are slightly faster than basic endurance training (Level 3/4), and are accomplished in interval format. Heart-rate levels during speed training should be around 75-85% maximum heart rate. Interval sessions can total 21-60 minutes. Each interval can be between 7-12 minutes. During speed training, breathing is accelerated, but only during anaerobic endurance training does breathing rhythm peak. Developing speed is important when training for a marathon, since part of the marathon is actually skiing at speed training pace. Include 1 or 2 speed sessions in your weekly schedule, depending on the time of year.

Interval training is a good choice when you first start working on speed, since it’s easier to keep up a good pace during short repeats and exertion levels are not too high. As you progress, you can add even-paced sessions to your schedule. Cut back on speed training during transition and tapering, when you replace some of the hard sessions with actual racing.

Anaerobic endurance training is generally very hard interval work, aimed at maximizing racing performance and oxygen uptake capacity. To make sure lactic acid levels remain at a manageable level, ski at just below full speed, in other words at 90-95% maximum heart rate, or, Level 4. Each of these intervals typically last 4-6 minutes. Anaerobic endurance training increases as the calendar approaches ski-race season.

For a goal-oriented active skier, including anaerobic endurance training 2-3 times a month is advisable. When tapering, training includes anaerobic endurance and speed work, as well as basic endurance and recovery.

For an active skier, sprint training is fast-paced interval training at 90-100% maximum heart rate. Repeats last 30-90 seconds. Recover for around 5 minutes. Do sprint work during transition and tapering periods. Training frequency is at about 4 times/month.

Endurance-strength is considered another category of endurance training. This type of training is typically done on roller skis during a “specific-strength” workout. These workouts incorporate repetitions between 150-250 meters each along a gradual uphill. There are three main specific strength exercises; double-pole, core-only and single-stick. Double pole is regular double poling, core-only is when the body is propelled by the initial crunch of the arms and torso without a follow-through of the arms and the single-stick is when a skier executes diagonal-stride arms while keeping the legs stationary so that all of the work comes from the upper body. For each exercise there are between 5-12 repetitions, depending on the time of year.

Dynamic Stretching to Prep for a Workout

Today, dynamic warm-ups are a standard routine for athletes ranging from amateurs to professionals.

What Is a Dynamic Warm-Up?

A dynamic warm-up uses stretches that are “dynamic,” meaning you are moving as you stretch. For decades, static stretching, which requires holding a stretch for 10 or more seconds while motionless, was the most popular type of warm-up for athletes.

Dynamic stretching is ideal as the core of a warm-up routine for several reasons:

  • It activates muscles you will use during your workout. For example, a lunge with a twist is a dynamic stretching exercise that engages your hips, legs, and core muscles.  Whether you are doing weighted lunges in the gym, or lunging for a soccer ball, the muscles involved have already been engaged during your warm-up.
  • Dynamic stretching improves range of motion . So if you feel like you can barely bend over to tie your shoes after a long day at work, a dynamic warm-up routine can help you feel more limber.
  • Dynamic stretches improve body awareness. If you don’t warm-up and hop into a soccer game, it may take a while for your body to perform optimally.  Moving as you stretch challenges your balance and coordination; skills that could help your performance.
  • Warming up in motion enhances muscular performance and power. Studies reveal dynamic stretching before a workout can help you lift more weight and increase overall athletic performance compared to no stretching or static stretching . If you are trying to get stronger, build more muscle, or simply perform better, a dynamic warm-up routine is likely your best bet.

The Five-Minute Dynamic Warm-Up Routine

Here’s a dynamic warm-up routine that doesn’t require any equipment, it will prep your entire body for movement, and it can be completed in just five minutes. This basic routine can be used as an effective warm-up for many different activities, from interval training sprints to a full body strength training workout.

Complete 10 reps of each exercise below for 1-2 rounds, and check out the video for tips and demonstrations of each move.


How to Raise Threshold Heart Rate

I am a master’s skier, mid 40’s, and have been racing for about 30 years. In the past, I have been fairly successful. In the past 3-4 years, my threshold HR has gone down significantly. It used to be 165, now it’s much lower. I recently did two races, a 30 k and a 50 k, and my average HR was 152. I usually do intervals twice a week. I’m having problems with my quads really burning a lot, so that I can’t push hard enough to raise my HR very high. I have tried Incorporating more recovery into all my training, but it doesn’t seem to make a difference. Do I need to do short intervals, 30 sec-1 min with short rest to raise my HR without my legs burning so much and then gradually increase them? I do a lot of endurance, 14-18 hours total training/week.


Certainly try to shorten the intervals in the manner you outlined, that is, make them long enough to get the heart-rate up, but short enough so that you aren’t feeling fatigued in the legs right immediately. With shorter intervals, you would want to consider adding more repetitions so that you maintain training volume so as not to get a de-training effect.

Strength training. I don’t know if you are currently engaged in a strength-training regime, but having a strength plan that targets the leg and core muscles may help solve your leg-problem. You can even devote one strength session entirely to legs and reserve another day for arms to target the legs more dramatically.

After tweaking your training to account for these two suggestions over the next 6-7 weeks, I would re-test and reevaluate your threshold HR to see if catering to the limiting factor (legs) provides positive feedback. Hopefully you will see improvements in your threshold HR and/or quads.

Karmen M. Whitham
CXC Development Coach


Factors that Influence Heart Rate During Outdoor Training

The following factors affect your heart rate during outdoor training:

ACTIVITY. Heart rate can change across activities, due to different muscle mass involved, level of experience and technical proficiency. Running typically elicits the highest maximum heart rate during a stress test, whereas cycling and paddling maximum heart rates can be 10-15 beats lower during a similar test. This means that you may need to adjust your training heart rate intensities by 5-10 beats for activities other than running.

HEAT AND HUMIDITY. Temperature and humidity will influence your heart rate. As the environment gets warmer and more humid, heart rate will gradually increase throughout your activity, even if your pace doesn’t change. This is due to your “air-conditioning” and level of hydration. You produce a lot of energy in the form of heat when you move and this heat needs to be dissipated, typically via sweating. Humidity reduces the effectiveness of sweating, resulting in an increase in body temperature, and thus an increase in heart rate. Even if the humidity is low, heart rate will still be elevated, due the extra work the heart must do to help cool your body. It’s not uncommon for heart rates to be 5-10 beats above normal ranges in these conditions. Use your heart rate combined with perceived exertion and subjective feeling to set an appropriate pace.

HYDRATION. Failing to stay hydrated can result in an increase in heart rate, as your blood volume decreases and your body runs low on the fluids needed to maintain body temperature. Dehydration can occur in cold as well as hot environments. If you notice your heart rate increasing with no change in pace or other variables, then increase your fluid intake.

ALTITUDE. The lower air pressure at altitude means there is less pressure to drive oxygen into your lungs. Less pressure means your heart has to work harder to deliver enough oxygen to your working muscles. The result is a higher heart rate at a given pace. Fortunately, your body adapts to higher altitude in several days to 2 weeks, but if you’re only at altitude briefly, you’ll need to slow your pace to keep your heart rate in the proper range. It also takes longer to recover from a hard effort at altitude, so rest periods may need to be longer.

FUEL. Your body is always using a combination of carbohydrates, fats and proteins for energy production. As the exercise intensity increases, you burn more carbohydrates and less fat (protein metabolism is always fairly small). Even at low intensities, you need some carbohydrate to burn fats (fats burn in the flame of carbohydrate). What does this have to do with heart rate? If you start to run low on carbohydrate, it will become difficult to maintain your pace at a given heart rate. Your perceived exertion and subjective feeling will increase, but your heart rate will be falling. This is informally called “bonking” and can be remedied by eating foods high in carbohydrate. As a rule of thumb, always bring along some form of ingestible energy on any outing lasting more than 2 hours.

Training Heart Rate Range (THRR)

Monitoring your heart rate allows you to maximize the effectiveness of your training. By knowing your Training Heart Rate Range (THRR), you can adjust your effort to work within those values, based on your goals for each workout.

Use the formulas on this page to determine your approximate THRR. For more accurate calculations, visit your physician and have a stress test done.

To determine your THRR you need to first determine the following values:

  • Maximum Heart Rate (MHR)
  • Resting Heart Rate (RHR)
  • Heart Rate Reserve (HRR)


The rule of thumb for MHR used to be 220 minus your age. However, recent studies have shown 205.8 – (0.685 × age) to be a more accurate guide.¹

¹ The Surprising History of the “HRmax=220-age” Equation, Robert A. Robergs and Roberto Landwehr, Journal of Exercise Physiology Volume 5 Number 2 May 2002.

You can also:

• Run or bike up a steep hill for about 2 minutes twice. Use your heart rate monitor or count your heart rate immediately after you stop each time for 10 seconds and multiply it by 6.

• Use the highest number you have recorded during Max VO2 Test, intensity workout, race or time trials.

To determine your RHR, take your pulse first thing in the morning, before engaging in any significant activity (ideally, before you get out of bed). For greater accuracy, do this for several days and average the results.

HRR = MHR minus RHR

Training Heart Rate Range

To determine your THRR, take percentages of your HRR and add them to your RHR. The percentage you take depends on whether you are doing aerobic or anaerobic threshold training:

  • For aerobic training, take 50–75% of your HRR and add it to your RHR
  • For anaerobic threshold training, take 80–85% or your HRR and add it to your RHR


A 50-year-old with an RHR of 62 results in the following values:

  • MHR: 205.8 – (0.685 x 50) = 172
  • HRR: 172 – 62 = 110
  • THRR for Aerobic Training: 115–143 beats per minute (bpm)
  • THRR for Anaerobic Threshold Training: 148–154 bpm