Period Eight of Training for Cross Country Skiing


We’re discussing period eight of cross-country ski training. One thing I want to focus on is multi-sport activities. A lot of times, athletes are not just a one-sport individuals, but involved in a couple of different sports.

Our general feedback and philosophy on multi-sport is that having two complementary sports is a great opportunity. Maybe it’s running and skiing or biking and skiing. This is great.

We often find that if you’re competitive, more than two competition seasons are really difficult to actually execute well. The reason why, if you go to a three-competition period of – maybe you’re trying to compete in summer, in fall and in winter. The challenge there is finding adequate recovery and adequate amount of time to fully prepare for each or any of those sports.

So we definitely support a multi-sport activity where you may have two competition seasons. But more than two if you really want to be competitive becomes difficult to both prepare and compete well.

With that being said, as we’re here – right on the cusp of a competition season, basically mid of October all the way into November, is really focused on this competitive season and the reason why I wanted to bring up multi-sport is if you just came off of, for example a running season, one of the things you really want to do is focus on the things you haven’t been doing. OK?

If you’re a runner and you’ve been running, you’ve got plenty of level four training in. But what have you maintained in the upper body? So a lot of the exercises and activities, if you’re multi-sport and coming off of a competitive fall is thinking about, “What haven’t I done? Have I not done enough upper body double pulling?” Then you really need to focus your attention on those sorts of things. Then in that scenario, do more level three training. If you’re purely training for cross-country skiing, then your intensity will purely be based primarily off of level four intervals, bounding, roller skiing, those sorts of activities.

If you’re in either scenario, select the type of terrain appropriate for cross-country skiing, meaning hillier terrain. We really want to focus more of our intensity work on the ups and downs and focusing on how do we get better.

On our distance type training, our endurance training, we’re really starting to focus on efficiency of training. We’re getting on snow hopefully. Whether we’re finding man-made snow loops or we’re getting ourselves into a camp scenario, find those opportunities to get on snow and focus on efficiency of training.

Again, polarized training is really important here. Once we get on snow, that’s an added stress. Make sure your easy days are easy. But they’re easy and you’re skiing with really good, proficient movement. You’re trying to learn how to ski and move faster at a lower intensity.

Strength training maintains stable, really focusing on more complex type strength where we’re actually introducing not only max and not only velocity, but the combination of both in a very ski-specific movement, more single-leg activities and movements that we’re doing specific for the sport.

Period Seven of Training for Cross Country Skiing

Video Transcript:

One of the things I want to talk about is strength and how we complement strength in the type of a routine where we’re doing a lot of ski-specific activities and high-intensity activities.

Regardless of the fact that we’re doing higher intensity training, we still want to do strength and that strength complements the type of training that we’re doing.

If the majority of your races are December, January, then we really want to focus on velocity-based type intensity or velocity-based strength. Another complement we can do is to blend the two and it’s called complex strength where we do a lift or we would do maybe like a squat with weight and then immediately after we do vertical jump and that becomes a super set or a complex strength where we do something that’s loading, loading of the weight as well as then taking the weight away and then doing something velocity-based.

Intensity during this time again needs to become more and more specific to the sport. If you’re doing more double leg activities, now we want to become more single leg activities and more specific movements to the sport. That includes in both intensity, distance, as well as strength training. It becomes very specific to the activity.

In recovery, this is a great opportunity to maintain or stabilize our full body strength and full body movement. So, think about being creative here, doing activities such as yoga or getting massaged. Those sorts of activities become really, really important as the intensity increases.

In endurance, because we’re doing higher intensity, more Level 4 intervals, more ski-specific, the volume may drop a little bit.

We’re focusing mostly on very specific activities of endurance but the actual overall volume starts to reduce as we focus more attention on the competition season. See you next period.

Period Six of Training for Cross Country Skiing

Video Script:

For Period 6, it is important to recognize that the race season is merely weeks away, and therefore, now is a great opportunity to make both strength and general training as ski-specific as possible. Similarly, now is the time in the training year when overall training volume should decrease, while training intensity increases. This means workouts are going to be very hard and efficient in the sense that all muscles and movement patterns involved are going to be closely related to those that will be utilized in the coming seasons’ races.

Throughout the summer the training plan has focused on high volume. If this has been accomplished, then you will have a strong foundation to build high-quality intensity sessions.

Training this period should include very impulse-driven, plyometric actives. These exercises will translate to an effective classic technique in terms of setting the wax, as well as helping strength the push phase of the skate push.

As workouts become more intense and ski-specific, recovery becomes even more critical. Nutrition, hydration and sleep all remain extremely important, but staying healthy and avoiding sickness as we enter the cold-salon is particularly important. Take a look at your lifestyle and how it relates to your workouts because it all relates heavily to your ski training. If you are experiencing stresses at work or school, make sure you’re accommodating that sort of chronic stress in your training plan as well. Check in with how you are feeling and modify the hours and repetitions set forth in the plan that makes sense for you and your circumstances outside of skiing.

In summary, Period 6 is all about the motto “less is more” meaning we will spending less time working out each week, but more sessions will prescribe more level 4 training.

Period Five of Training for Cross Country Skiing

Video Transcript:

We are now into period five and there are a couple of things I want to talk through before we actually talk about the specifics of training.

Number one is polarized training and basically what that means is that when we go easy or we have endurance, easy endurance training, that we actually truly go easy in our training. The goal there is to improve our aerobic capacity and then when we go hard or at higher intensity, it’s when we say we’re going to do a level four interval session, that we’re actually going really quite hard.

We don’t want to have our easy training be too hard because then we don’t have enough recovery to go hard on our hard days. Then all we do is we get more and more tired.

So we really want to make sure that we’re training polarized or when it says easy training, that we’re truly going easy, and then when we’re going level four, that we’re truly going hard. Why that’s so important right now in period five is because in period five, it’s one of our highest volume months.

With that being said, it’s very easy both in period five and period six to train too hard on our level one type training, our easy training, and actually leave our whole season far too fatigued for the rest of the competition season.

The other concept that I want to talk through is compartmentalized training or making sure that all of our training actually flows from one to the next. It’s really complementary and it’s not just isolated so that when we’re out doing distance training, we’re just doing distance. We’re also working on technique.

Everything must complement one another. This complementary training is really important. So making sure that for example our strength complements our intensity training and that’s also extremely important as we move forward.

So as we discussed – the endurance, intensity and strength type of training in this period, first and foremost, it’s high in volume. Because of that, we want to make sure our easy work is very easy and it’s also becoming more and more specific to cross-country skiing.

Again more roller skiing, a little less biking type activities. Intensity, there’s a bit of a balance between threshold and Level 4 training. We can get a little bit creative here. If you’ve trained over the years, you can actually blend the two. Maybe what you do is you do a Level 3 workout or a threshold and add – maybe it’s five minutes on of Level 3 and then maybe one minute of Level 4 at the end. That’s a creative balance or you can have very specific ones.

Another thing to do is make sure we have accelerations in our distance training, but full recovery in between. Then the strength, we’re still focused primarily on the velocity-based training and we will talk about moving back into max strength in the next period.

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.

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.

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