December 15, 2007
Part 3: Toning your Muscles for Increased Endurance
You are an active person. But the busy-ness of summer seldom gives you the chance to exercise all of your major muscle groups aerobically. However, when the snow starts piling up, what could be better than to cross country ski for hours on end? There is no better way to enjoy the serenity and beauty of winter than touring the countryside on your skinny skis. Honestly, it can be hard to call it quits once the endorphines (runner's high) start pumping through your body.
Both your heart and your muscles need to be ready for this. If you are not committed to a regular regiment of total body aerobic workout, it's time to start adding a few simple excercises to your routine. These excercises are intended to focus on the muscles and movements most used while XC skiing. These exercises require no equipment and can be performed at home or at the office, maybe even while watching the evening news.
This exercise will do much to improve and strengthen your stride. From a fully upright position, with your shoulders back and your feet only a few inches apart, take one large step forward. Dip into the step so that your trailing knee comes to within a few inches of the floor. Then step back up into your beginning postion. Repeat with the other leg. Continue this exercise with 3 sets of 10 repetitions. Doing this exercise three times a week, you should quickly build up to a session of 3 sets with 40 or 50 repetitions each set.
Alternating Calf Raises
This exercise will also do much to improve your stride, but will also give more consistent power to your kick. Standing up straight, with your feet a few inches apart, raise your left heel as high as you can, suspending your right foot in the air, the let it back down, followed immediately by raising the other heel. Continue alternating for five minutes. As with the Lunges, you should be able to quickly increase your session length if exercising three times per week.
Arm Swing "Pole Plant"
This exercise mimmicks the motion associated with your pole plant, helping to strengthen and lengthen your back swing. Swing your arms opposingly, with a controlled and slow motion, focussing on the back swing. The muscles in the back of your shoulders and arms should feel the tension. Use light-weight dumbells (2 to 7 lbs.) for gaining more strength. As with the other exercises, you should be able to perform this exercise for 20 minutes after just a couple weeks of training.