It's a crisp winter day, fresh snow blanketing the ground. With miles of open country, each graceful stride carrying you further, exploration is at your fingertips. Two narrow skis under your feet, poles in hands, the simple yet technical movement of gliding across the snow can not only take you incredible distances but can transform you into a top-level athlete.
Cross-country skiing is widely known as a fun and easy way to stay active throughout the winter season. Whether you are looking to spend time outdoors in nature or seeking a full-body workout, the sport has a variety of benefits.
No matter what the draw is, cross-country skiing has continued to attract athletes from all disciplines. Relying solely on one's own body strength, cross-country skiing is considered to be one of the best forms of physical fitness.
With a variety of techniques and an ever-evolving sport, skiers and athletes alike are constantly seeking more ways to improve their training, endurance, and performance as a whole.
The Many Health Benefits of Cross-Country Skiing
Understanding the multitude of health benefits associated with cross-country skiing will assist any athlete in enhancing specific training, on or off the snow. While there are numerous, the main benefit of cross-country skiing is that it exercises the entire body.
The simple act of the sport relies on the athlete's own locomotion to glide on snow while using ski poles to propel yourself forward. In order to successfully do so, the lower body and upper body must work together to activate the muscles involved in the balance and coordination of the entire body.
Additionally, the use of ski poles specifically works the biceps and triceps giving the upper body a significant workout. As such a physically demanding cardiovascular workout, it's no wonder this sport reigns supreme near the top of the list for full-body exercises.
Rather than targeting the muscles in just your legs or arms, it uses a large percentage of your entire muscle mass. Because no single muscle group is being overstressed, the activity can be sustained for many hours, leading to improved cardiovascular health and endurance.
VO2 Max training
Maintaining an elevated heart rate over an extended period of time is important to any workout, whether it be skiing, running, or walking.
However, cross-country skiing in particular is considered to be the gold standard when it comes to winter aerobic exercise. Skiing increases your cardiac output and increases your oxygen-carrying capacity.
Therefore, cross-country skiers are known to have extremely high VO2 max values, which indicates strong cardiorespiratory fitness. On top of it all, it is a low-impact sport, which puts less stress on your joints and bones and lessens the risk of injury.
The Importance of Off-Season Training for Cross Country Skiers
In order to fully reap the benefits of cross-country skiing, it is crucial for athletes to maintain their strength and focus heavily on high-intensity training sessions throughout the entire year. Similar to the majority of other sports, as it steadily progresses, athletes must work to keep up with the required strength and endurance training in order to persevere within the competitive arena. This means focusing not only on improving one's technique during the season but during the off-season as well.
For cross-country skiing, it will be very difficult to pick up where you left off without the proper summer training. While there is the option to run or skate, this form of dryland training solely works the leg muscles, leaving the rest of the body at risk of losing strength. There is also the option of utilizing an elliptical or treadmill, however; these machines don't train the same muscle groups. In order to target the entire body and achieve the most ideal workout, many athletes seek out a cross-training program. Among the many benefits, it provides conditioning to muscle groups that are otherwise neglected during routine workouts.
When high-performance athletes cease their day-to-day exercise regime, many physiological changes occur. After months of training, athletes can experience deconditioning, which results in the loss of the beneficial effects of strength training. Among the effects are decreased aerobic capacity, muscle strength, muscle memory, and significant reductions in VO2 max.
Since all of these aid in the ability to be at the highest level of cross-country skiing, it is necessary to implement a summer training program to maintain your athleticism. For a sport that involves using the entire body, it requires a significant amount of technique, balance, and coordination, all of which should be fine-tuned in between peak seasons. Upon returning to the ski season, being in top physical shape will allow you to start right where you left off.
The Unique Challenges of Cross-Training
Establishing a cross-training routine is essential to maintaining overall fitness for athletes, especially skiers. The key to such a routine is variety, as well as intensity if the ultimate goal is to target all muscle groups and sustain strength and endurance. The main goal in cross-training is to focus on the main components of fitness, which include cardiovascular and muscular endurance, flexibility, and muscular strength.
High impact / Low impact
Exercises addressing these components could include running, swimming, core work, upper-body work, and overall strength training. Another crucial piece to cross-training is varying the intensity of your workout. Incorporating high impact, low impact, and no impact workouts will not only prevent injury but will ensure that you don't plateau in your training.
While there are many options for achieving successful summer training, the most ideal solution is to mimic the same movements of cross-country skiing. By doing so, you are able to continuously work all of the same muscle groups without losing strength or muscle memory over the summer. You may be wondering how it is possible to achieve the same style of exercise, one that involves the same repetitive motion responsible for working the entire body.
Luckily, there is specific equipment geared towards nordic ski training that will drastically improve the specific training cross-country skiers are pursuing.
Among such equipment, a popularly sought-after product, roller skis, has gained immense popularity within the cross-country skiing world. Similar to snow skiing, roller skiing imitates the movement of skiing and acts as an alternative, as well as a form of training. Equipped with cross-country ski bindings, roller skis glide in an identical manner and involve the use of double poling. While this option has many of the same benefits as cross-country skiing, the downside is it must be used on smooth, even ground. Ideal weather and temperature are also necessary for roller skis to perform correctly.
Another alternative to cross-country skiing is ski walking, a form of fitness walking that involves the use of poles similar to ski poles. Used for the purpose of training, ski walking involves the pushing and pulling of the poles while getting aerobic exercise. While this form of exercise requires the use of the entire body and provides fitness-building stimulation, the level of intensity you would need to reach to achieve a workout similar to cross-country skiing is not as easy. Therefore, the question still remains of how to properly train during the summer months for such a sport.
The Nordic Trainer: The Perfect Summer Training Solution:
For skiers looking for the perfect way to train in the summer, there is finally an ideal solution. Nordic Strong, a fitness concept built on Nordic values, has created a foundation centered around Nordic culture, nature, health, and exercise traditions. Complimenting their love and commitment to the outdoors and the activities that embody their lifestyle, they have developed a unique product specifically designed for cross-country ski training. Building on the legacy of the ThoraxTrainer, the idea to construct an indoor fitness trainer became a reality with the Nordic Trainer, a truly versatile full-body trainer.
With cross-country skiing as its foundation, the Nordic Trainer is the answer to any athlete's question of how to truly achieve the ultimate strength and endurance in summer training. Whether you are training for your ski season, triathlon, or trail race, the Nordic Trainer will drastically improve all aspects of cardiovascular fitness.
Total body activation
This machine activates more than 96% of your muscle mass simultaneously, giving you a full-body exercise that looks like and feels like nordic skiing. It focuses on cardio, stability, and balance training, all while building muscle and core strength. Making sure to target each muscle group, this machine is capable of doing 50 different exercises. With such an extensive variety of exercises, you can train at a very high-intensity level, as well as at a slower pace. This allows your body to focus on smaller and deeper muscle groups within the body.
Time efficiency is an additional bonus, requiring only 3x12 minutes per week to see a significant improvement in the body's overall health. Allowing you the ability to coordinate both the lower body and upper body while moving at a high speed, the motions mirror the movements of cross-country skiing identically, making the Nordic Trainer the best home ski trainer on the market. Whether or not you are training for a winter sport, long-distance running, or general aerobic exercise, the Nordic Trainer will be the dryland solution to your training needs and desires.
When the snow begins to melt and the ski season is wrapping up, the fear of losing all of the progress you made during your cross-country ski season is hard to ignore. The off-season can be long and with your performance at risk, finding the right way to train should be a top priority. Fortunately, there are various ways to train that will not only eliminate the chances of injury but will improve your strength, endurance, and performance upon returning come winter. Cross-country skiing is one of the healthiest and most beneficial sports, transforming individuals into top-level athletes. In order to keep up with such a physically demanding activity, training accordingly throughout every season will help keep you healthy and fit all year round.