How do you get better at ski racing? That’s simple, ski more.
The more runs you can ski during a training session, the greater the overall effect on technical improvement.
That said, you have to keep in mind, the more runs you take, the more tired you get and the more technique breaks down. Skiing more with poor technique will only make you worse. Don’t do that.
Quality ski training is the key to improving your ski racing performance. And skiing more quality runs begins with a solid foundation of conditioning.
Aerobic conditioning to be exact – your traditional endurance exercise (running, biking, hiking, etc.) performed for a long duration at a range of intensities. This type of conditioning challenges your body’s ability to better take up and use oxygen to fuel exercise.
But if a typical ski race lasts 1-2 minutes, why is long duration endurance exercise so important for skiing?
The answer lies in what’s going on under the hood. While endurance training might not look like skiing, it leads to several physiological adaptations that boost your ability to ski a greater volume of quality runs day in and day out.
The adaptations you get from endurance training are the following:
- An increase in the amount of blood the heart can pump to the working muscles, which in turn delivers more oxygen to these muscles, which they can use as fuel.
- The growth of tiny new blood vessels (called capillaries) within the muscles, which allow for a faster delivery of oxygen and a faster removal of fatigue-causing waste products.
- An increase in the cells (called mitochondria) within the muscles that convert oxygen to energy while also minimizing the amount of fatigue-causing waste products that are produced.
The results of these adaptations are an improved ability to ski at higher intensities while at the same time being able to recover faster between runs. Not only are you able push harder during the actual run, but by the time you get up the lift and back to the start, you are fully recovered and able to ski again at the same intensity. It is the ability to ski repeated high-quality efforts that will create positive change in your skiing.
Develop your capacity to use oxygen and ski a greater volume of high-quality runs with the following aerobic conditioning sessions:
60-90-minutes at Very Light to Light pace
Warm-Up: 10-minutes at Light pace
3-6 Rounds of:
5-10-minutes at Somewhat Hard pace
5-10-minutes at Light pace
Warm-Up: 10 minutes at Light pace
5-8 rounds of:
3-minutes at Very Hard pace
3-minutes at Very Light pace
During the off-season, perform these aerobic conditioning sessions 4-5 times per week alternating between high-, medium- and low-intensity sessions. Two days per week should be complete rest.
A weekly off-season conditioning schedule might look like this:
While running, hiking, and cross-country skiing are great options for conditioning, biking is the preferred method. The effort of biking is directed all to the legs – your skiing muscles. Also, the low impact of biking is easier to recover from than running and therefore has less of an interference with your gym training.
Work up to 4-6 hours of aerobic conditioning per week. After 2-3 months of consistent training you will see tangible results in your ski performance. Double-sessions, triple-sessions, 5-days on-snow, 6-days on-snow – no problem! Your heart, capillaries, and mitochondria will be there to take your skiing to the next level.