Ways To Improve LT, VO2 Max, Economy and Strength

WAYS TO IMPROVE LACTATE THRESHOLD (LT)

* 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)

 

WAYS TO IMPROVE VO2 MAX

  • 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)

 

WAYS TO IMPROVE ECONOMY

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

 

WAYS TO IMPROVE STRENGTH

  • 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

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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

Bounding
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.

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

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

Circuit
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 SkiPost.com

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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?


FROM PHYSIOLOGY

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.

 

FROM TECHNICAL

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!

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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