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
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.
A great question! While training down to the exact second isn’t necessary for better results, it is good to know how the hours add up. The following components are all calculated into the total hours. The one thing that is worth noting is recovery time. Since many of our workouts require a recovery period dictated by heart rate, we include approximate recovery time into our total hours.
Here is what is included in the total hours:
LEVEL 1 & LEVEL 2:
Warm Up / Cool Down
Distance / Over Distance
Anaerobic Threshold Intervals
General Max VO2 Intervals
Let’s say you need to adjust your yearly training volume… For example, to modify the 250hrs/year training plan and make it 300hrs/year plan, you might consider adding more time to the distance and over distance workouts. Add 30 min to the distance workout and 45 min to the over distance workout.
Another example of adjusting to the 450 hrs/year training plan. Below is one of CXC Academy coach’s comments, just to give you an idea…
The easy answer is just to say there are 52 weeks in the year and we generally take 2 weeks in the spring almost completely off. Thus you have 50 weeks and need to add 50 hours to a 400 plan…. add 1 hour per week. Is it just that simple? Yes and no. Generally we operate under an 80-20 intensity cycle. This means that 80% of the training generally ends up being distance/technique/over distance/warm up/cool down while, 20% of the training is intensity (racing/intervals/sometimes strength/etc.) By this breakdown, you’d be adding approximately 12 minutes per week of intensity training and 48 min of volume training.
If you are coming to CXC Academy from another endurance sport we recommend that you follow Period 1 of whatever level you are choosing. If you know you are going to follow the intermediate plan of 400 hours a year, pull up Period 1 and start it from the beginning. Follow that plan for about two weeks, and then you can make the transition to the start of the actual Period you are in.
Say you are joining us right now, at the start of Period 7, pull up Period 1, and follow that to “Week 2”, and then transition to Week 3 in Period 7. When it’s time for Period 8 to be released, you should be able to make the transition to that period and follow it all the way through. It’s okay to make some minor adjustments to some of the workouts, as this is only a template. Specifically, in the first two weeks after making the switch to Period 7 it’s fine to take it a little easy to avoid any injury.
Q: According to your plan you recommend starting in phase 1 for 2 weeks. I’m coming off a full season of bike racing and over the past 2 weeks have done long L1 skis. Would you still advise those 2 weeks to get used to the intervals and speed?
A: You are coming off a full season of bike racing. You are probably ready for the intense workouts because of the fitness you are carrying over, however we would suggest holding off on the intensity for the first 2 weeks to give yourself a little rest time in between ending biking and starting up ski training. This will allow your body to get some rest and prepare itself for the next sport season. It is hard for your body to hold high fitness for extended periods of time. So if you were to begin training high intensity right away, when it comes February, we don’t believe you will be in your top shape. So, keep the first 2 weeks easy to build the volume and body back up and jump right in to the full workouts.
The main focus at this point in the season is to build capacity for the heart and muscles and then gradually gain race fitness through intensity sessions as we work into the ski season.
Cross-country skiing can be tricky to master…
Learn Proper Technique
Before your first workout, take the time to watch our technique videos. Learning proper technique from the start will help you ski better and faster in the long run. It will also help prevent injury and keep you from developing bad technique habits that are difficult to break.
Become familiar with the basic things that will be key to your long-term success: equipment requirements, workout types, training plan terminology, performance testing, ect. A lot of it can be found in our blog; we recommend taking the time to look through it.
Track Your Progress
Monitoring your progress is one of the best ways to stay motivated and achieve your goals. We recommend keeping track of your progress by recording all your workouts online or on paper.
Train with a Partner
Finding a workout partner can make a huge difference in sticking to a new routine.
Build Up Gradually
When you first get to ski, resist the temptation to do too much too soon. Instead, make sure you focus on your technique and learn to maintain a steady pace.
We strongly discourage this type of manipulation to the training plan. Training is something that needs to fit into your schedule, and missing one workout will not affect the overall progress of your training.
If you find yourself routinely having a difficult time getting in a specific workout, say the VO2 Max Interval days, we suggest that you move things around in the weekly plan. The plan is set up on a weekly progression pattern, but is optimized within each week to give you the most rest between high load workouts.
Move things around to fit your life, but be aware that every workout has a purpose.