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.

Training Periods for Cross-Country Skiers

TRANSITION OR RECOVERY PHASE (SPRING)
Recover from the physical, mental and emotional stresses of training and racing. Complete rest is fine, but active rest is better.

Preparation:
Begin building into your modes of training.

 


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

Endurance:
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.

Example:
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.

Strength:

  • 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.

Example:
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.

Example:
Endurance session using only double pole over gradual terrain.

Intensity:
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.

Example:
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.

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

 


PRE-COMPETITION (FALL)
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.

Endurance:
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.

Example:
Rollerski or run almost exclusively in level 1.

Strength:

  • 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.

Example:
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.

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

Intensity:
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.

Example:
(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.

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

 


PRE-COMPETITION (EARLY SNOW)
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.

Example:
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.

 


RACE SEASON
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.

 

BLOCKS OF NORMAL RACES

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

Example:
1.5hr session mostly in level 1.

Interval:
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.

Example:
(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.

Speed:
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.

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

Race:
Results are secondary to continued technical and fitness improvements.

 

BLOCKS OF KEY RACES

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

Example:
(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.

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

Example:
(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.

Speed:
Same idea as with intervals.

Strength:
Minimal maintenance strength if any at all.

Race:
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

How do I train between my key races?

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

Example:

  • 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.

INTENSITY: sharpening intervals; fitness has been gained; intervals now are for feeling sharp and fresh, not improving fitness level.

Example:

  • Peaking intervals: 3×3 minutes just below LT w/ equal recovery, followed by 3×2 minute above LT w/ equal recovery, followed by 4x30seconds all out with full recovery.

SPEED: same idea as with intervals.

STRENGTH: minimal maintenance strength if any at all.

RACE: 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: SkiPost.com

Differences in Upper Body Power Between Men and Women

Q: I was recently watching… a biathlon world cup race on TV and one of the commentators said that the distribution of power between arms and legs is about

· 60% arms / 40% legs for men and

· 35% arms / 65% legs for women

I was shocked/surprised by the 60% arms / 40% legs for men; I know that strong arms (and core!) are important but I didn’t think arms take up so much more of the work load. I am far from being a pro, but I can hold my own in races and I am pretty fit, yet I feel like I exert nowhere close the 60% arms / 40% legs level, if anything I feel like I would be in the 60% legs / 40% arms area (or maybe 50/50, although I have no way of measuring this). But then again, I may well have a bad technique.

N.B.: BTW, I am referring to skating, not classic.

 

A: The best response to your question comes from a 2015 study by Hegge et. al. where they took 8 elite male and female skiers to find if upper body power was augmented by increasing exercise intensity, and if there was a difference between genders.

They found that a higher lean mass in the upper body of men meant:

1) A higher power output
2) A higher 1-repetition maximal weight lifting in a strength exercise
3) A higher peak aerobic capacity

They also found that during upper body exercise, men came closer to to their whole-body VO2max than women (76% vs. 67%).

Now, for the exact gender-based distribution between the arms and legs during skating, I am not sure. But the research from the article mentioned indicates that you can certainly obtain a high percentage of overall power from the upper body alone, and that elite men consistently show higher upper body power output than elite women, so it is possible that the commentator was on the right track.


Article Source: Are Gender Differences in Upper-Body Power Generated by Elite Cross-Country Skiers Augmented by Increasing the Intensity of Exercise?

Hegge AM, Myhre K, Welde B, Holmberg HC, Sandbakk Ø (2015) Are Gender Differences in Upper-Body Power Generated by Elite Cross-Country Skiers Augmented by Increasing the Intensity of Exercise?. PLOS ONE 10(5): e0127509. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0127509

Length of Recovery Time Between Sets in General Strength

In regards to strength training, all sets are not alike. The length of recovery time between sets depends on the intensity (amount of weight) and the number of reps in each set. If you are lifting a light weight with many reps, the recovery time between sets should be lower. As a general rule of thumb, we like to give ourselves 1:30-2:00 min for the longer endurance sets of 10+ reps. For sets targeting heavier weights at lower reps, say 5-9 reps we would give ourselves 2-3 min of recovery time. As a general rule, plyometrics and body weight based exercises should only need around 2 min of recovery.

The difference in reps per set is due to a difference in objective. For sets of 10 or more reps, we are targeting muscular endurance. For the shorter sets, we are targeting muscular strength.  For our training purposes, you should find a weight that induces fatigue for the assigned number of reps.

***

Here is and example of how your general strength workout should proceed:

Warm-Up
Jump Rope       (30 sec,  (equal recovery for the warmup) 30 sec rest) x 3
then, after completion of 3 sets of jump rope:
Step-Taps          (30 sec,  (equal recovery for the warmup) 30 sec rest) x 3

Ladders
One-Ins 4 sets (run through the ladder with the one-in technique, rest then repeat consecutively) x 4 then move on to Forward Slalom Jumps

The exercises are to be completed in the order they are listed. Finish the entire 4 sets of One-ins, for example, before moving on to the forward slalom jumps.

As far as the warm-up goes, the Jump Rope and Step-Taps should be ample. That being said, everyone is different and you may not feel “warmed up” yet.  It doesn’t hurt to add to the warm up, just remember that the purpose is to prepare your body for strength, not to add volume.

Strength Room Weight Range for Women

For a moderately strong women, I would suggest anything from 45 lbs and under. If you find this to be easy still for the amount of reps prescribed, there are a few ways you can make the exercise more difficult:

1. Adding in instability through a bosu ball or foam pad

2. Slowing down the movement to a 3 count on the way down and 3 count on the way up.

3. Holding weight away from body so that you are forced to use core to keep back straight and upright.

Remember that technique is the most important thing in doing any weight lifting exercise. Full range of motion in the correct movement should come before any increase in weight.

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Selecting Weight To Intensify Strength Exercise

With strength training you want to find a weight or progression of each exercise that allows you to complete it with some strain but still with good technique. If an exercise gets too easy where you feel like you’re not getting much out of the exercise, adding weight or some sort of difficulty to the exercise is a good option. What I mean by difficulty is by adding instability or taking away any assistance you may be getting.

For example, the bench dips, you can either add weight, move to bar dips, or perhaps replace bench under feet with an exercise ball. Each one of these options should make things more difficult for you and get you back down to prescribed sets and reps.

***

The general rule of thumb I use for weight lifting, is choosing a weight you can complete the exercises with using correct technique and full range of motion. It is important to pick a weight that challenges you, but not too much where you are struggling through each motion and compromising your technique.

Another way to figure out how to increase weights, is by the figuring out the percentage of your 1 Rep Maximum weight. Find the absolute max weight you can lift in a certain lift and then do a percentage of that weight. Remember to have good form when determining that one max rep.

For lifts of 8-12 reps. between 60-70% of 1 Rep max is appropriate
5-8 reps: 70 – 80%
3-5 reps: 80-90%
1-3 reps: 90%+

Hope this helps and good luck with training going forward.

Coach, CXC Academy

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