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

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

New Training Season: the steps to go through

U.S. Ski Team Development Coach, Bryan Fish breaks down the steps athletes should go through at the beginning of a new training season, as well as how to gradually get back into training after spring.

Video Transcript:

Welcome to a new year of cross-country ski training. Before you start anything, I recommend going and getting a general screening that would include both a clearing from your doctor as well as going through a blood screening and a functional movement screening.

That will help outline and understand what your unique limitations may be so that you can safely train through the whole year.

As we start the new year, the first thing we really want to focus on is setting a good baseline and what that means. After you do your testing and get a good establishment of what your limitations are – go back and start from scratch. That means basic functional movement, focusing on general strength, doing activities that are broad-based without weight, really making sure that the body is reset for the next year.

General endurance training is really important. You still may have snow in your community. If so, take advantage of this opportunity so that you can go out and ski and continue to improve your technique. If not, focus on general activities such as running, biking, going for hikes, going for paddles, those sorts of things. Make sure you not only reset the body but also reset the mind so that you’re ready to do specific training in the future.

As it comes to recovery, this is a real important time to focus on a great deal of recovery. That does not however mean that you don’t do any strength or any intensity. At no point of the year do you want to do zero of any type of training. You just want to reduce.

So again, strength should be very functional, no weight, lots of activities, intensity. Maybe do it every couple of weeks just to keep a baseline so that all that intensity that you’ve built up from the year before and the season you just came off of is still developed and continued on into your next year.


Related Post: Training Periods for Cross-Country Skiers

Training History When Planning Training

It is very important to consider your training history when planning training. Training adaptations take time – weeks to months to years.

The easiest way to monitor and plan training according to ones training history is by tracking volume.

  • Training volume shouldn’t increase by more than 15%.
  • Raising your training volume or intensity too rapidly will produce a short positive spike in fitness followed by a long-term decrease in fitness, injury or over-training.
  • If last year you trained 300 hours, aim for at most 345 hours this year. If you trained an average of 10 hours a week during the fall last year, then aim for an average of 11 or 11.5 this fall. If you don’t know how many hours you trained in the past, try to recall how many times a week you trained, approximate duration and at what intensity.

Ultimately, through planning as we outline it here, you should be able to get more out of the time and energy you invest in training. Therefore, for most skiers, increasing the quantity of training becomes less important then improving the quality of training.


Source: SkiPost – Cross Country Ski Source

Safely Re-integrating Back Into The Moderate Training Program

For the Intermediate Level training program (400 training hrs/yr), we suggest reintroducing yourself into the training week with these modifications:

1) Any interval session (Level 3-Threshold and Level 4/5 Anaerobic/Speeds) only do half of the prescribed repetitions, but keep the overall training time the same. Replace the time that you would have spent on the remaining intervals with easy Level 1 work as an extension of the cool-down.

2) Scale over-distance and distance workouts back by 25%-30%, so you are only completing 75%-70% of the prescribed time.

3) Go light on strength reps/sets. Don’t push it, complete only what you are comfortable with until you can complete all sets/reps with quality movements.

Go with the model for the next three weeks. After three weeks try to complete workouts as prescribed by the plan.

* At that time, if you are feeling overworked or that the workouts are too daunting, please reach out and we can look into more training plan modifications for you.

 

Dry-land Exercises to Prevent Muscle Cramping

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

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.