Arms Cramping After Long Sections of Double Polling

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.

Specific Strength Workout Pick-Ups

Specific Strength – Building strength and power using ski specific activities (i.e. double pole, single pole, Concept2 Ski Erg, etc). Specific strength is almost exclusively done on skis/rollerskis, and the movements are always ski related. The workout is often done on an uphill to add resistance.

To understand specific strength, think of it as a strength workout on skis. You will perform a certain number of sets and repetitions and progress to harder resistances (inclines) as you become stronger.

Specific Strength Workout Pick-Ups – Pick-ups done during specific strength workout. These exercises are not meant to be top end speed drills, they are meant to increase your ski specific strength.

Intensity and Recovery Period – Proper technique is the most important component in specific strength, not intensity. If you feel good, go a little harder. If you feel tired, go a little slower.

For the specific strength workout we want you to complete exercises with equal, active recovery. What that means is that you should continue to ski easy during your rest using double polling as well as striding for several minutes in-between sets.

Be sure to do this workout on rolling terrain, a gradual climb can be very beneficial. Try to find a location that you will be able to return to, so that you can track your progress over the following weeks.


Modification or Substitute for Specific Strength Drills

A: In the CXC Academy Video Library, – under Specific Strength Exercises – – you’ll find videos done with medicine ball and exercise band. Those are good substitutes.

Also, in the section on Dry-land Training, look for videos featuring Nordic Shock Cords – these will work great too, and you can increase resistance by stepping back when doing single and double pole pick-ups.