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

Building Double Pole Capacity with Erik Bjornsen

by Jason Albert, fasterskier.com

The 26-year-old Washington native was named to the U.S. Ski Team six years ago, and since then he’s made his way from the development or “D” team ranks to the big leagues — spending the bulk of each winter racing overseas in Europe on the World Cup.

Bjornsen shared the following double-pole-centric workout:

  • Solo, high-focus, double-pole distance session

Find suitable terrain and timing: “I choose the terrain based on how hard I want the workout to be. I try to fit this workout in mid-week between intervals sessions,” he wrote in an email. “The point is to get the biggest benefit without fatiguing the body too much.

“Most often I head up Campbell airstrip road. It’s a five-mile-long road, with a majority of the terrain measuring out at a gentle 5% incline,” Bjornsen continued. “There’s one steeper climb in the middle that’s about 500 meters long. For this workout, I go out and back twice.”

Warmup: 15-minute easy Level 1 (roller)ski to the start.

Go-time: Typically takes him 1 hour and 20 minutes to do the 5-mile section twice.

“The steep 500-meter section is VERY hard to double pole — that portion of the road is something you would for sure stride in a race. During this workout, I try to spend an hour at L2 [Level 2] and end up bumping up to L3 [Level 3] only when double poling up that steep segment (2 X 5min in L3). I like having the two short but demanding double pole sections in this workout.”

The important part of this training session is not the 2 x 5-minute L3 sections, it’s the time before and after that L3 effort. You have to figure out how to get the muscles to recover from the hill while still double poling and determine what gear/tempo to use while still applying power efficiently — and recover at the same time.

Cool down: 15-minute easy ski home.

 


NOTES:

  • The idea is to work specifically on double pole and upper body strength. You get an opportunity to work on all gears, from long double pole to very quick choppy double pole up the steep section.

 

  • You can gain a lot from just focusing on two intensity sessions a week. This is a way I find I’m able to gain quite a bit from specific double pole training. But ideally, you don’t fatigue the body so much that it takes energy away from the true intensity sessions.

 

Teammates Eric Packer (l) and Erik Bjornsen enjoy a clear day for training on Eagle Glacier near Girdwood, Alaska (Photo: Reese Hanneman)

 

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Main Staples of Fall Training

Q: I tend to do the same training all year round. I do way too much long slow distance – or short slow/medium distance. How should I change my training in the fall vs the summer?

 

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.

ENDUARNCE

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.

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: 10×200 meters single pole, 10×200 meters double pole. Distance double pole session over all terrain.


INTENSITY

During the pre-competition 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 met until the second interval). Each interval should take you the same distance.

TECHNIQUE & 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: 10-20×20 seconds incorporated into an endurance session.

by Andy at SkiPost, Cross Country Ski Source

Pocket Guide to Cross-Country Ski Training

1. Intensity
No matter how little time you are able to devote to training, you should always fit in one intensity workout every week to ten days starting in the summer. Maintaining that ability and feel of going hard throughout the year is important since it can be very difficult to regain once you have lost it. This is especially true the older you get.

2. Over-Distance
It is amazing how well an occasional OD can maintain your endurance. If you average 45 minutes per workout, try to fit in an easy 2 hour over-distance day. If you average 1 to 1.5 hours, try to fit in a nice 3-hour outing.

3. “Everyday” Workouts
For some of you, doing intervals may be unappealing and you really don’t have time for OD workouts either, so training only consists of “everyday” workouts. These are simple workouts where you just head out and run or bike or whatever at a comfortable pace for the time available to you. If you are only able to train for 30 minutes three times per week, make sure that you are getting something out of them.

Read Full Guide: www.skipost.com/training

Source: SkiPost.com

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How to Peak for Racing for Beginners

by Karmen M. Whitham, CXC Skiing

My suggestion for any relatively new cross-country ski racer is to build the endurance foundation first, with A LOT of true level 1 volume. The time to do this is in the spring and summer and then come back to it for a short period after the fall intensity block. This allows you to put in major hours on snow and absorb the work you’ve just put in from your intensity training. Paying attention to the aerobic foundation is paramount at the beginning of your skiing career because it builds a foundation of fitness that acts as a spring board for anaerobic training. It’s the difference between building a house with a cement basement “foundation” vs. just sticking some plywood and drywall into the dirt. You’ve got to have something to keep you strong and stable.

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There is a caveat of losing speed however. Therefore, it is advised that you add simple speeds (fartlek) to your distance workouts. For junior athletes I like to surprise them with 15-30 second sprints during distance or over-distance workouts. I like this method because it also creates playful competition which reminds us why we love to mess around on skis in the first place. Alternatively, you can strategically plan sprints into distance workouts, for example, add 5×30 second speeds (take a minute between each to get the heart rate back to level 1) in the middle of a 2- hour ski or run.

If you keep distance workouts (with speeds) as the foundation of your training (4-6x a week) and add level 3 and level 4 workouts 2-3 times a week, you should not jeopardize your endurance capacity. In training blocks where level 3 and 4 are the primary focus, make sure you are still doing one over-distance workout per week. These workouts are designed to be at true level 1 in order to build mitochondria for oxygen transportation thus maintaining your aerobic fitness.

As for sprint workouts that are effective, I’m a big fan of “mock-sprint days” where you have a qualifier, and three more sprints after that with about 5-minutes of active recovery between them. Not only does this help build anaerobic fitness it also sets an environment for mental preparedness that will get the athlete ready for sprint competitions. Otherwise 1-km relays, time-based ladders, and distance based ladders are other ways to construct sprint, level 4 and level 3 intervals to promote anaerobic capabilities.

To train to be a cross-country skier means you are creating fitness in every aspect of human performance. You should think of training as an interplay between strengthening the aerobic and anaerobic systems as opposed to training either exclusively. That said, you may shift your attention to simply emphasize one system over the other, to coincide with the goal of your respective training period.

Summer Training – The Build Up

Cross-country skiing is a primarily aerobic sport. The best way to develop your aerobic system, and even your higher end fitness (V02 max and lactate threshold) is with easy to moderate (60 to 80% of max heart-rate) intensity distance (45min to 2hr) sessions. This type of training comprise about 80% of the training load, even for elite ski racers.

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This being true, it is also the case that the training week should be built around one to three harder training sessions. A harder training session is either a short hard session or a long easy session.

For instance many programs are built around two interval sessions and one long (3hr) easy (heart rate around 70% of max) session. Your body adapts to a certain stress after 4 to 6 weeks and so if you don’t change that stress, doing what you have already been doing will only serve to maintain what you have built.

It can be helpful to look toward your racing season and plan backward. You should end up with a plan that builds toward the racing season. The basic idea is to build your aerobic base over the summer, work on more race like aerobic and anaerobic fitness in the fall and early winter, and race fast in the winter.

In the summer then you would consider doing mostly easy to moderate intensity workouts with one session a week of harder training, and some strength training. As the summer/fall/early winter goes on you extend the duration of the workouts gradually, making sure you get lots of rest so that you are getting stronger and feeling better rather then getting more and more tired as the summer goes on.

There is a lot of training material out there, but this is the basic idea: training breaks the body down, rest builds it back to a level higher than before training. Remember REST builds the body up.

by SkiPost.com

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