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Cross Training

Tips & Ideas Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Competition wears heavily on the mind and the body. This is just one reason athletes experience burnout during their career. Another reason is the lack of diversity in training regimens. Fortunately, cross country skiers can have an advantage over other athletes because their snow covered trails are not available year-round like basketball courts or soccer fields are. Cross country skiers must be creative to stat active summer long.

In an interview with, former U.S. Ski Team cross country skier Garrott Kuzzy said, “… almost anything active can be considered cross training for Nordic skiing.”

Cross country skiers work hard to maintain their endurance during the summer months. Biking, running, and roller skiing are always popular workouts. However, cardio isn’t a cure-all for staying in shape. A common reflection skiers have at the end of the off season is a wish they spent more time maintaining and building muscular strength. After all, a strong upper body gives skiers extra leverage in competition. Unfortunately, these muscles are often neglected in the off season.


After a tiring season, give your body a break. Allow it to rest and rejuvenate with a few weeks of light exercise. Then, when you feel rested, ease into more challenging training. Track workouts, long distance running, interval training, and roller skiing are especially great ways to get back on track. Any form of cardio is always a good place to start. It is important for Nordic athletes to incorporate cardio that mimics the opposite coordinating movements of cross country skiing, in order to perfect technique all year long.

Cardio workouts allow skiers to maintain a level of endurance similar to cross country skiing, even after the snow melts. These workouts also use the same muscles needed to propel skiers forward: leg muscles, glutes, and abdominal muscles. Alternate between long runs and HIIT (high intensity interval training) workouts to capitalize on all the training benefits of running.


Cross country skiing is a full body sport. It requires arm, shoulder, back, and core strength in addition to explosive leg strength. Uphill double pole roller skiing is one way to keep these muscles engaged. Weight training workouts are also essential to any workout schedule.

Strength translates to power, which translates to speed. The lower body is a source of power. Additionally, the lower body provides the main source of stability for skiers who need strong quads to glide from one leg to the other on thin skis. Upper body muscles generate the force behind the power. These muscles compensate for more speed than any passerby might think. Skiers know this and train in ways resembling the pulling motion of cross country skiing: lat pull-downs, rows, and triceps pull-downs.

Balance, Flexibility, and Power

A strong abdomen provides stability and balance. Like any other muscle group, the abdomen needs specific attention to grow stronger, but it also needs rest. A 15-minute core exercise three to four days a week builds a strong core.

Athletes build power from plyometric training, more commonly known as plyos or jumps. Plyos also promote balance. An even greater challenge for skiers is to practice plyos using one legged exercises, to ensure both right and left sides of the body are strengthening equally. After a workout leaves the body’s muscles quivering with exhaustion, prevent injuries by stretching. Not only does stretching help maintain range of motion in the legs, arms, and back, but it also promotes health and longevity as fewer injuries are likely to arise.

There are so many training options available to cross country skiers in the off season. Don’t get too comfortable in one routine and switch it up. Keep challenging yourself to compete faster and stronger than the previous season, but most importantly, have fun no matter how you train!

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