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Fit for Cross-Country Skiing

Updated on 17.10.2022 in Sports

Vorbereitung auf die Langlaufsaison (c) Tirol Werbung

Why sweat it out in the gym during the winter months when you can explore the great outdoors on two skis? Cross-country skiing is known as being one of the best sports around when it comes to training not only stamina and cariovascular fitness but also strength in the legs and upper body. On top of that, it's excellent for your balance and burns plenty of calories. However, skating around on skinny skis does take a bit of getting used to. A key element to enjoying cross-country skiing is having the right fitness, so we have put together five exercises for you to do at home to get ready for your next holiday in Tirol. Coach Christoph Ebenbichler from the Innsbruck Olympic Centre will take you through each one step by step. Ready, steady, go!



1. Side Lunges

The first exercise is Side Lunges.

Here’s how it works

  • Bend your knees
  • Step (or jump) to one side
  • Keep your knee stable
  • Look ahead

Reps & sets

  • 15-20 steps or jumps
  • 3 sets

Important! Start off by stepping to the side. If you want to, you can increase the intensity by jumping.

2. Back Scale

Exercise number two combines balance and back strength.

Here’s how it works

  • Starting position: stand on one leg with your body straight
  • Stretch our your arms to the side, with your thumbs facing up
  • Stretch your non-standing leg backwards and upwards (your upper body will move forward)
  • Maintain the tension in your body
  • Keep your hip, knee and ankle stable
  • Return to the starting position

Reps & sets

  • 10-15 reps
  • 3 sets

Important! Carry out this exercise in a slow, controlled way.

3. Step Ups

In cross-country skiing, much of the speed is generated by your legs. That means you need strong thighs. What better way to train these muscles than with Step Ups?

Here’s how it works

  • Start with your hands on your hips
  • Move your weight forward and push yourself up using your front leg
  • Make sure you keep your hip, knee and ankle stable
  • The movement should be carried out in a slow, controlled way

Reps & sets

  • 15-20 reps on each side
  • 3 sets

Important! Try not to push off with your back leg – let your front leg do all the work. Don’t let your knee bend inwards.

4. Maltese Push Ups

As well as strong legs, cross-country skiers also need strong arms. That is why we are now going to do an exercise for the upper body. It is a variation on classic push-ups.

Here’s how it works

  • Find a step or bench and move forward into the push-up position
  • Make sure your fingers are pointing backwards
  • Keep your elbows close to your body
  • Lower your body and then push back up until your arms are straight

Reps & sets

  • 10-15 reps
  • 3 sets

Important! Lower yourself slowly and then push up quickly. Make sure your elbows stay close to your body at all times.

5. Side Plank and Reach Through

Our final exercise aims at building stability in your upper body.

Here’s how it works

  • Assume the classic side plank position
  • Make sure your elbow is directly beneath your shoulder
  • Your other arm should be stretched out straight and facing upwards
  • Keep your body tense
  • Bring your upper arm down and reach under and through your body (rotation) before returning to the starting position

Reps & sets

  • 20 reps on each side
  • 3 sets

You can increase the difficulty level by carrying out the exercise more quickly.

Important Keep your elbow directly beneath your shoulder in order to minimise the pressure on the joint.

Check out our list of the top cross-country skiing regions in Tirol to find the perfect place to work on your technique and fitness. Have fun!

An outdoorswoman with a passion for sports, Mathea is always looking for authentic stories about Tirol. You can usually find her in the backcountry, surrounded by good people.

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