Cross country ski trainer - why is it a good workout?

Cross country ski trainer - why is it a good workout?

Cross country ski trainer

Why is it a ski trainer such a good workout? That is probably a question many will first ask when they hear about a cross country trainer. In this article, we will try to explain the many benefits that come with training in a cross country trainer - not just for ski purposes, but also for the simple reason of getting in back on track with a fit body.

Much more than a workout


But first... let's talk about cross country skiing. Because it is much more than a workout! At the heart of Nordic skiing lies the concept of "friluftslivet" or the "free air life", that Scandinavian's love. This includes being outside in nature on your skis, enjoying what nature has to offer you, often with friends and family and of course most likely in fresh winter snow.

Cross country skiing has been a part of the nordic culture for years and has become an important part of many people's way off enjoying time with their families or getting great exercise. The winter time in the nordics is characterised by cold, short days and long nights and one winter can almost seem like a full year. With cross country skiing, you are able to disconnect from a stressful world and just cherish the nature and environment you are in, for the short period of time there is daylight in the winter time.


For me, it changes the way I look upon winter - it makes it my favourite time a year in the nordic countries. So, cross country skiing is designed to be much more than a workout. It has an important role in terms of doing something social with others and it has a big impact on how the mind feels as well.

Full body activation

Besides being a great way of getting yourself outside, enjoying the winter snow and beautiful landscapes, cross country skiing is one of the healthiest workouts you can possibly do. Cross country skiing provides a full body activation, which means that you will use almost all the body's muscles simultaneously.

As a fitness workout, this is very healthy, for several reasons. First of all, your body will build muscle faster than if you were doing traditional weight lifting. Targeting multiple muscles simultaneously is simply fantastic for your body and will have a good effect on your endurance. Second of all, improved coordination is great for your body and mind. When you force yourself to coordinate different muscle groups and movements, you will activate the cerebellum, which is a structure located at the back of your brain, and this can help enhance thinking and improve your verbal communication.

Endurance training comes from full body activation. When the body is forced to use different muscle groups at the same time, the demand for oxygen and blood circulation increases. The better you become at fuelling your body with oxygen while you are training, the better fitness you body will start to get and the more your body will be able to endure, i.e. the better you will become at endurance training.

The NordicTrainer has a near perfect correlation to cross country skiing. Consequently, this means that you will not only gain the right technique from cross country skiing, but training sessions in a ski trainer machine will also give you the same health benefits. The NordicTrainer, formerly the ThoraxTrainer, has been under development for more than 10 years. Year after year, the focus has been to make it more perfect to cross country skiing. Today, it is easy to use and it is the best workout you can do, if you want the benefits from cross country.

Studies also show how much you can use the full body activation from the NordicTrainer in other sports. The endurance training you get from training sessions in the NordicTrainer will improve your running, swimming or biking performance.

Prepare winter in the summer

With a short winter season, it can be hard to reap the benefits properly from cross country skiing. Therefore, to get the most out of the short season, you should always prepare the winter in the summer. This can be done in various ways. When the weather allows it, we recommend rollerskis or doing specific exercises that are good for cross country skiing. When the weather does not allow it, the best way to prepare for your winter ski season, is by using your indoor ski trainer. On the NordicTrainer, you will make sure to optimise your training the best you can for the winter.

No matter what you are training for, preparation and sticking to a workout schedule is key. We recommend that you read our article on planning workouts to learn how you make a weekly workout schedule that will work for you.

When you plan your ski training in the summer, we recommend that you focus on doing full body exercises, as well as specific exercises for the upper and lower body. This will ensure that you maximise your ski performance in the winter. This will also make it easy for you to follow and actually do at home in the summer! You need to motivate yourself for a full 6 months at home, which can be hard. No sports are designed to be easy, otherwise there would be more pro skiers...

How to train in the summer

Our full body training programs focus on endurance training. This is great to do on the NordicTrainer, but also for instance by running track in the summer. It is all about balance in your workout schedule. Interval running in the woods is a great way to focus on full body training.

Our training programs that focus on the upper body, focus on core, arms and shoulders. Diagonal Poling in the NordicTrainer will activate core, arms and lats at the same time. It is a hard exercise, but it will give you a big advantage in the winter. Many people underestimate the importance of core work when you do cross country skiing. It is extremely important to have a strong core, as the core is essential to coordinate the movements between the upper body and lower body. In the NordicTrainer, you are able to do many exercises that will challenge your core strength.

Unlike other home trainers, the poles in the NordicTrainer give you a great advantage when it comes to training your lower body. It will help you with your technique and balance and enable you to really focus on building the strength in your legs and glutes that you need for cross country.

Consequently, training in the summer for the winter, is very important if you want to be able to perform on the level like the pro skiers. Finding the motivation to train can be hard - we know - but with good planning and the NordicTrainer, it can get a lot easier.

The technique

The first thing you need to do when you start training on your cross country trainer is to get a good technique. Without this, you will waste energy that can be put to better use elsewhere. However, there is no need to worry, the technique is easy to learn. In this section, we will take you through the basic technique.

When you train on your cross country trainer, there are three things you need to focus on:

  1. Core
  2. Posture
  3. Arms

Let us take you through each of the three.


Throughout all exercises, whether you are training upper body, lower body or a complete body workout, you must always tighten up your core. As explained, your abdominal muscles act as a coordinator between your upper and lower when you go cross country skiing. In order to make smooth movements, you therefore need to be strong in this area.


Secondly, you must focus on your posture. This means keeping a straight back throughout all exercises, i.e. feel that you remain tall and long throughout all the exercises. This is very important as you may get a generally bad posture from not working out correctly. Therefore, we always suggest that you take a slow start. Start on the level where you feel comfortable and make sure you push your a little bit every time you get onto the trainer.


Lastly, you need to focus on having relaxed arms. Coordinating arms with back, abs and legs is what I have experienced that many people struggle with. At the beginning it can feel like a weird movement. but most it comes from not making the movement easy and comfortably. So keep your arms slightly bent and let them push you down when you core pushes down. You will gain a lot of strength in the arms and shoulders from training in the NordicTrainer. But I find that it is a different strong than classic weight lifting. Your muscles will become long and toned instead of short and bulky. For most - especially women - this is what we want.

Rounding off

Training for a ski sport without snow sounds difficult. And for most people on this planet, the winter seasons lasts less than 6 months every year. Therefore, to work like the pro skiers do, you need to use your summer to train for the winter season. Luckily, the NordicTrainer has made it easy for you. On the NordicTrainer, you can do endurance, balance and focused strength training. The three most important elements for ski training. And more importantly, you can focus on your ski technique. Besides being a great way to train for the winter season, the NordicTrainer is such a a fun and challenging machine! You can do a tough endurance workout in just 15 minutes or you can do a slow strength focused training for more than an hour. So it has been made to fit anyone's needs. One this is for sure, you will feel a change in your fitness quickly being using the Nordic Trainer.

If you prefer to be outside in the summer - understandable - rollerskis is always a well way to train for the ski season. You don't need any snow, just good roads. Even running outside is a great way to prepare yourself for the winter season. You won't gain the coordination technique that the NordicTrainer gives you, but it is also a great way to start getting fit for the winter season!