Also known as cross-country skiing, this snow-required activity uses light skis and poles to ski uphill as well as downhill on groomed trails, set tracks and/or backcountry.
“Nordic skiers have been measured as having the highest VO2 max of all athletes,” says Alana Levin, a USAT coach and PSIA Nordic Ski Instructor. “The sport uses the entire body all at once and requires balance, power and endurance. During the off-season, the athlete can not only maintain their fitness but actually improve it.”
The motion of the arms in Nordic skiing requires a very similar muscle pattern as the pull in the swim stroke. Additionally, cyclists and runners benefit from leg and core work. The sport also demands oxygen uptake and production during every phase of the exercise.
Compared to downhill skiing and snowboarding, Nordic skiing is relatively safe as a cross-training activity. The most common injury is Skier’s Thumb, which happens when a thumb gets caught in a pole strap as a hand moves to break a fall. However, as with any sport, poor technique can lead to injury.
“Learning the basics is crucial to having fun and benefiting from it as a cross-training sport,” says Levin. “This is a super technical sport that involves balance, power and core strength. Like swimming (and biking and running), good technique will help you go farther, faster and with less effort.”
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