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Season of David - Part IX
By:  David Zylberberg   (2003/06/24)


The followingis the first in a series of weekly articles by the "infamous" David Zylberberg, one of the original members of XC Ottawa. He is the writer of numerous amusing and sometimes controversial articles which have been the subject of much discussion within the Canadian cross-country racing community over the last 8 months. While David does not possess an advanced degree in physiology or sports science, hopefully the articles will be the source of much entertainment while you are putting off work, school, or chores. David's articles will be candid and will not be censored by the editors of XC Ottawa. (At least not usually) Please address your comments and questions directly to David.

Training has been going very well for the month of June. At the beginning of the month, I knew I was in fairly good shape but lacking a little bit to achieve my normal late summer fitness. I have just completed 2 high volume weeks of training and have gotten fitter every day to the point where I am in the best shape I have ever been in before July 15. The high volume training increased my blood volume and now my aerobic system is functioning well. I notice this with lower training heart rates, faster training paces at these lower heart rates and better heart rate recovery. I normally feel fit like this in late July and August but this is early to be receiving these benefits.

One interesting thing in this whole period has been my improved upper body strength. I have been double poling really well this spring. Also, on Friday I did a few chinups after my workout and hit a personal best of 20. This is suggesting that my upper body strength is improving from previous years. This is particularly interesting because I have been doing a fair bit less strength training than in other years. Previously, I felt I needed more strength to compete and spent close to 3.25 hours/week doing strength workouts in June and July. I was strong in general strength last year and decided to do less gym work and more specific upper body workouts on rollerskiis. I am currently doing one circuit strength session/week consisting of mainly body weight exercises with a few light weights and long sets of each exercise. Also, I am doing one distance workout a week that focusses on double poling and uses some longer versions of the workout mentioned a few weeks back in my guide to rollerskiing. The only other upper body training is paddling once a week for about 1.5 hours, a little use of arms while skate rollerskiing and doing some body weight exercises (situps, backups, pushups, chinups, dips) after some workouts. The reason I mention this is that I did a little less double poling, no paddling, the same body weight exercises but more circuits and other hard weight workouts in the years where I had less strength. I also did about half as much weight training in May than in previous years.

The lesson I am learning from this is that the best way to build ski-specific strength is by doing ski specific activities and using ski muscles in other activities. The paddling seems to be helping and has given aerobic benefits that gym work does not. I also read this week that world-sprint Champion Thobias Fredrickson claims to only use strength training to prevent injuries. I mention this in addition to my observations because often skiers feel that they need a lot of weight training in order to compete. Weight training can have some benefits, particularly when strength is seriously lacking but it does not replace muscular endurance and power built by isolating muscles on rollerskiis. A lot of the benefits of weight training come in strengthining non-ski muscles to prevent imbalances and injuries but this does not require 3 sessions/week.

Another benefit of doing fewer general strength workouts is that it has allowed me to focus more time on other aspects of ski training and to work on larger weaknesses. Hopefully, these workouts that have become available will allow for greater improvement in all areas.

I mention these observations because I found them interesting and hopefully informative for you. Also, it reminds me that skiers do not get fast inside but by training specificly in the outdoors.

Interesting Reading. . .
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