Returning to Training after Being Sick

Q: I am just coming out of 3 weeks of no training (due to COVID). I was wondering if you had any advice for the best way to get back to training. Should I just do a percentage of the normal scheduled workout (basically what feels good/attainable) or should I do something else?

A: First off, I am sorry you contracted the virus and had to take such a long break from training. When coming back from any illness it is important to make sure that you are 100% symptom free and that any form of training you do will not prompt any symptoms to reappear.

If you are confident with being 100% healthy and recovered from COVID, you can start to ease back into training. I would suggest doing about 50% of the total training load in the training plan, and to not do any intensity above Anaerobic Threshold for at least the first 7-10 days of training. As your body starts to adjust to a normal training routine, you can gradually work back up to a full training load. This will probably take 2-3 weeks (including week 1 of 50% training load), but is slightly different for everyone.

It is important to try and not “make up” training you missed while sick and rather focus on getting your body back to being able to perform and handle normal training loads. Playing catch up can lead to further setbacks!

– Leo Hipp

Swapping Out Ski-Specific Activities for Alternative Exercise Modes


Q: It isn’t easy to get a rollerski in after work. I want to swap out ski-specific activities for running. Is there a percentage that I should scale down the amount of activity time?

A: We do not believe that you will need to scale down the workout between skiing and running unless you have a problem with handling the running load for that long. For example, during one of the running interval workouts, with warm-up and cool down, the workout should take between 1 hour 30 minutes to 1 hour 45 minutes, depending on how long it takes you to recover to 120 bpm. If you can handle a run of that length, keep it that way. If not, drop a few interval workouts (about 2-3), which should bring the workout length down.


Q: I see you mention a bike workout as a substitute on the weekends even though you label the weekend as specific Over Distance. Is this in case you can’t rollerski somewhere?

A: The alternative workouts are given as another option for people to do if they would take a bike or ski instead. Doing more ski-specific training will be better for skiing, but keeping various modes of exercise in your training is a great way to keep working out exciting and not overworking the body in the same way. We suggest switching up the mode in which you do your long workouts every other weekend, if you would like to.

If I need to adapt a XC ski workout to a running workout, what should I change?

Running to skiing should be a 1:1 ratio and your HR zones should be pretty close to the same.  The major difference between running and skiing is that in skiing you are at less of a steady state with your heart rate than running.  Instead, when skiing, your heart rate will vary more as the terrain changes.  When running, we do not have the same recovery on downhills where we stop working to move forward.  The only caution I would give for substituting running in place of skiing is be careful not to drift out of your zone into a higher zone than you want to be at, because you will not have the same type of rest/recovery on the downhills.

Substituting Running and/or MTB in Place of Rollerskiing

Making The Most Out Of Your Limited Training Hours

by Tara Geraghty-Moats

QUALITY OVER QUANTITY. Make sure your intensity is high quality. It’s not a L4 session unless your HR is actually in L4 for the right amount of time. If you are lacking motivation, drink some caffeine and stick yourself on a treadmill.  Treadmill intervals are incredibly “boring”, yet, utterly effective because of the controlled environment and repeatable conditions. When running on a treadmill or Ski-Erging (shout out to Concept 2 ) motivation comes instinctively from the mere fact that you don’t want to fall off the treadmill, or let your speed on the monitor drop. Secondly, you can control your heart rate exactly, and get the most out of limited time. Treadmill intervals also have the added benefit of making you mentally tough.

MAKE SURE YOUR HAVE SHORT AND LONG-TERM GOALS. Maybe your goal is just reaching a new strength level (I like doing more reps). Maybe you want to improve your time in a local race, or perhaps you are working towards your first international podium. Make sure you have goals for each training session and focus on those goals. Create small steps that will bring to your bigger goals. Value your goals. Don’t base them off of others. Choose things that will make you proud, not anyone else.

FOCUS ON YOUR WEAKNESSES NOT YOUR STRENGTHS. Work on improving your weaknesses and not your strengths. This may sound obvious, but I’ve seen high-level skiers who are horrible at downhills focus only on the VO2 max intervals—so they continue to stay horrible at downhills. If they took a step back, they would realize that objectively they could get 30seconds faster a lot easier by focusing on skiing better on downhills. If your goal is to have a stronger upper body, don’t spend your short gym session warming up and doing static core. Do a 5min run instead of a 30min run and make time to do a lot of pull ups. This will enable you to make actual progress on the weak areas in your skiing and it will help keep you motivation.  Focus on your weak points.

POLARIZE YOUR TRAINING. Cut out all the fluff, reduce your hours. Balance your training with work or school. This could mean you won’t have the staying power to race fast every weekend from November through March, but it will mean you’ll be rested enough to go really fast for a few races that matter. I would always use a block training plan i.e. easy week, speed week, strength week, distance week. Or easy week, speed week, distance week, strength week. That being said, I did some form of HIT training on all weeks.

INTEGRATE YOUR TRAINING INTO YOUR LIFE. Try to make sure your life isn’t taking away from the training you do. Be creative. Use all the resources you have available to you to integrate training into your life. For example, if you are a parent and you don’t have enough child care, do intervals with a kid on your back or in a trailer. My mom did this, so I know it’s possible. If you need to stack a bunch of wood, do it fast, make it dynamic, and count it as circuit strength. If you work at a desk all day make sure you make use of your lunch hour to exercise even if it is only 30min. You can totally do intervals in 30 min by the way! 10min warm up, 3*4min L4 and 5min cool down. It won’t feel good but it’s effective. To help get the most of the training you do, create time to eat healthy and drink enough water. Use a creative office, try a standing desk, or a balance chair. Keep yourself active and your physical body engaged even when you are not officially training. Don’t get defeated. Do what you can with what you have. If all you have time for is 15min of strength on a strength day, make the most of it and be proud of that.

Incorporating Ski Erg into Day to Day Workouts

Q: My question is around Ski Ergs. How might I incorporate use of this device into the day to day work outs? Please advise any thoughts on how the Ski Erg may complement my normal training program.

A: Your Ski Erg can slot into your ski sessions, the active rest sessions, or the strength/specific strength sessions, depending upon what workouts you may be doing on the erg.

The ski erg is a useful machine that can serve many purposes depending upon how you want to use it. I have one in my basement that I use to warm up for strength and then to add some time to ski workouts when I am limited to skate skiing on artificial snow at the local alpine area and my body doesn’t like me doing more than an hour on the difficult terrain for an easy ski, I will come home and put in another 20-30 minutes on the erg. I have also recommended athletes with lower body injuries use the erg for some distance workouts to keep their volume up, but that can get boring.

  you are using the erg as a warm up for general strength training, count it as part of that.

– If you are using the erg to help promote recovery after a workout, count it as active rest.

– If you are using the erg to replace a distance ski workout that for some reason you are not able to do on the ski trails and you are pulling steady for >1hr, count it as a distance classic ski.

– If you are doing intensity on the erg mirroring the specific strength workouts we may be prescribing, count it as that. (This may be very useful if executing the specific strength on rollerskis is difficult because you cannot find a good place for it or you do not feel comfortable coming back down a hill repeatedly on roller skis.)

Good luck and enjoy your new toy!

Joe Haggenmiller | CXC Director of Sport Development



You have also sent your questions to the SkiPost; here is their response:

Great question, overall there has been an overwhelming emphasis in general strength, specific strength and double poling among all levels of skiers from beginners to professionals.

A double-pole machine is a valuable tool in maintaining strength and isolating your specific strength workouts, which can be very efficient. Any time you have classic intervals in your plan, such as ladder intervals or threshold workouts, you can certainly do them on the Erg.

Another handy way to utilize the Erg is for warm-up & cool-down prior to /post a general strength workout (your typical lifting, plyo and/or bodyweight exercises).

The Erg can be used as a method to transform easy level 1 runs into a workout that focuses on more power & is more sport-specific. This can be a great replacement if running induces pain or if running needs to be eliminated for whatever reason. To do this, simply be sure that you are performing with proper technique & you have the machine set at a resistance that allows you to stay in solid level 1.

Many people think that double-pole apparatuses focus primarily on your upper body. The fact is, we know through studies conducted, that the legs (specifically the quads and hip flexors) become activated to as much as 89% during proper double-pole techniques using these machines. You do want to be sure you are using your core, shoulders and hips and not fall victim of the cocktail of techniques non-skiers exude in gyms around the world as the SkiErg has become more popular. Knowing that getting high watts out the the machine is very different than getting high watts with proper nordic-kinesiology.

We can certainly give you specific workouts as they align with your current training program, just send over some of the workouts you have in your plan and we can help you adjust them for the SkiErg. Let us know!


-Karmen M.S. Exercise Physiology, LMT

How to Shuffle Workouts to Fit Your Lifestyle

Tailoring Training to You and Your Life

To make the most of your time and energy it is important to focus your efforts. The best way to do this is by picking a few workouts per week to focus on. If you find that you excel at short events like a 5K, then you probably have good speed but need to improve your endurance (we’ll call you a type 1 racer).

On the other hand, if you perform well at longer events (marathons) then you may lack speed, and should focus on VO2 max and other speed intervals (you are a type 2 racer).

Focus on the workouts emphasized for the type racer (type 1 or 2) you most resemble.

Since time is almost always limited plan to complete the top priority workouts first and fit in the others as best you can.

Training must reflect your life and your life must reflect your training. A hard day a work can postpone a hard day of training.

As you are evaluating your training, also give some thought to how you are using the training plan. It is written to be a blueprint and a guide for your training, and is not written knowing in advance what conflicts you may have with training in any given week. Many weeks can be done as scheduled. However, if you have to swap weeks out on account of your non training life, with good planning that can be done with great success provided you are giving thought to the swapping.

For example, let’s say you have a week at work where you are going to have heavy time demands and stress and the schedule says it is the third week of the period, which is our big week, you may be best holding off on the third week and swapping it with week 4 our easy week to recover, and then also maybe make a small adjustment in week one of the following period. You can also swap out days on account of life outside of your training plan, just remember as you do that it is ideal to follow a pattern of hard followed by easy for the pattern of days.


Which Workouts Take Precedence Over Others

When it comes time to plan your training week, sometimes it’s helpful to know which workouts take precedence over others. This is particularly useful if a skier has other obligations outside of skiing (work, personal life etc.) that may interfere with the amount of training one can devote during the week, and thus, adjustments must be made. In an effort to make adjustments to the plan that won’t dilute the integrity of the training program, we have a few pointers for planning a training week.


In general, anytime you see a Level 4 workout, consider that your most important workout for the week.

The next important will be Level 3, or, threshold intervals.

Next are long distance workouts.

Taking the least importance, are the shorter distance workouts.

This means if you need to drop workouts from the week, start by eliminating the shorter distance workouts before the others.



For strength exercises, importance changes a bit.

If you are in an easy week of training, general strength is of least importance, and can be considered in the same category as shorter distance workouts.

However, if the week is a harder week of training, then general strength becomes more important, considerably as important as long distance workouts.

Specific strength exercises are always to be considered most important, just like the Level 4 intervals.


Scheduling Workouts Within Each Week

Try to shuffle the days within each week to fit your lifestyle and schedule, but avoid “loading” up missed workouts from other weeks to “make up for it.”

Be sure not to have two consecutive general strength or specific strength days during the week. For example, it is okay to follow a general strength day with specific strength the next day, but avoid having two general strength days in a row.

It is okay to have two consecutive interval days within the week on occasion, since that replicates some race weekends in the winter where you race both Saturday and Sunday. However, a majority of the summer training should allow for at least one day of recovery between hard Level 4 or 5 interval sessions.

If you have a workout that utilizes the upper-body heavily (such as double-poling or specific strength) try to focus the next workout on the lower-body (running, cycling) to ensure proper balance and recovery.

If you have the opportunity to train with other people, feel free to change your workout schedule around so that you can have partners to train with. Sometimes there is more value from what you can learn from other athletes than following a plan perfectly.


Scheduling Workouts and Training Twice-a-Day

When time conflicts arise, or during high-volume training weeks it can be most convenient to have two workouts in one day. It is important to follow proper protocol with multiple workouts in a single day.

It is better to schedule only one interval session per-day. Try to make the first workout of the day the interval session, and plan the second session to be a strength or distance workout.

Be sure to allow at least 3 hours between the end of the first session and the start of the second session.

Always allow at least 48-hours between each strength session

Always allow at least 48-hours between each interval session

It is a good idea to schedule the “off” day after very hard efforts, race days or race weekends with travel for recovery.

Bouncing Between Training Plans

Q: I would like to commit more hours in a structured manner this year but because of my busy family and work obligations I need to be flexible. Can I bounce between plans depending on how much time I have that day/week? Do the schedules line up that way? My top priority would be to train smarter this coming year to improve my results for Jan and early Feb races.

Also doing p90x type workouts with some ski movement modifications worked for me this year. I would like your feed back on implanting these or not within your plans.


A: With respect to bouncing between plans, I would caution that it is not ideal, but in the real world you have to do what you can do. When each of the plans are written, they are written with the idea that on many days athletes on different plans can still work out together and work on the same fundamentals. So, jumping between plans can be done with some success as long as there is good planning going into it on a regular basis. The weeks can also be juggled around a bit in the 4-week cycle. For instance, if you have a week with a lot of outside of training commitments or stresses and that is the scheduled big week, do not hesitate to switch it with the smaller weeks in the 4-week plan. At the end of the day the important thing is training as well as possible, absorbing that training and also being able to recover from it. 

With respect to P90X, if the work out is one of your favorites, I would recommend doing it in place of one of the weekly strength workouts. Our strength workouts progress throughout the season and are intended to be the proper strength stimulus to your training. But, if P90X is your go to, there are many ways to tackle strength, and that is one possibility. 

Other notes on the below, if I were you I would adjust your volume up in the summer. For instance, if you are on the 400 hour yearly plan, may be do 2-3 weeks of the 550 plan and 1-2 weeks of 400 plan. I would also try to avoid doing all your training medium hard, which I call the junk zone. Keep the easy days easy so the hard days can be hard and more productive. 

Good luck with your adjustments to the program. It really is a blueprint meant to have some flexibility, and adjusting the plan to your life is going to be better than trying to adjust your life to the plan.

– Joe Haggenmiller, CXC

Types Of Ski Workouts To Substitute For Cycling

Q: Can you please elaborate on what types of typical ski training (workouts) can be substituted for cycling? Is there a ratio to use when swapping workouts for cycling?


We know that skiing uses the whole body for the workout, in comparison to that, biking= MTB uses 2/3 of the muscles and cycling = road biking uses only 1/3 of all the muscles in the body. Therefore we can use something called CYCLIC HOURS. The name is not related to cycling/biking. It explains the amount of work for your body in a certain time period. Simply said, if I ski L1 for an hour, it equals to 3 hours in L1 on a road bike or 2 hours on a mountain bike. This is very simple way how to adjust workout hours in low intensities L1 and L3.

Just a note, running still has the same ratio of muscle involvement as skiing, even though it is not entirely truth through muscle involvement, however, there is no rest in downhills, so it equalizes.



The problem with Cyclic Hours comes up when intensity is introduced. We cannot simply multiply the time of the intervals by 2 or 3 due to anaerobic availability of our body and also not to loose speed and agility for skiing. In that case, it is the best to be creative and use different terrains.

For example, for 40 x 1min L4 w/30s break we can leave it that way, but perform it on flat, where we will have the bike in the lightest gear and for 1 minute bike like an insane person or a hamster on a wheel, then coast for 30s. This way, we are still working on fast motion of the feet and quick reactions rather than physiological advancing.

On the other hand, for example 8 x 5 min L4 w/ 2 min break is the best to perform in very very steep uphill and use appropriate gear and use the 2 min break to descend. This way we perform just the same physiological output and will gain same physiological advantage as on rollerskis or skis. The technical part of this lays in the fact that we are not loosing speed or agility or climbing mental skills.

– Eliska Hajek Algrigtsen

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.


Adjusting Training Plan Hours

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.