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Workout of the Week: Circuit Strength
By: Gavin Hamilton (2006/08/12)
Workout Type: Strength
Exertion Level: Hard
Skier Level: Intermediate
Technique: N/A
Season: Off-season
Terrain: Varied

Suggested Trails:

Equipment: Rollerboard, chin-up bar, bench, sit-up mat


This is an excellent workout to get your muscles in shape for the skiing that is coming up in the winter. It is designed to target specific ski muscle groups that you will be using repeatedly while cross-country skiing. It will help to strengthen them and give you increased muscle endurance. Strength is an important aspect of a cross-country skier’s repertoire. The core, the legs, the arms and back all are integral in the overall fitness of a high level skier. Double poling in classic requires a strong upper body (shoulders and arms) and strong core. Off-set technique for skating uses mostly leg strength. Each of the different techniques requires different muscle groups and this exercise is meant to give the individual overall strength. It will also reduce (not necessarily eliminate!) the soreness felt after the first long ski up Penguin in the winter.

There are a variety of exercises which one may insert into the circuit. By picking your own exercises and order it is possible to be creative and change up the workout to make it new and exciting each week! I usually aim to have 10-12 different exercises in my circuit but it is possible to have more. It helps if you have a rollerboard for the upper body strength but it is possible to insert other exercises to replace them. The way it works is as follows:

- Do a 20-30 minute warm-up in Zone 1 (I usually jog)
- Set your timer to have 1 minute intervals.
- Write down your choice of exercise order. Choose them so that they go : legs, core, arms, legs, core, arms etc.
- Start at the top and work your way through each one minute exercise
-Depending on how you are feeling you may do the circuit 2-3 times (I usually go for 3 circuits)
-Finish with a 20-30 minute Zone 1 cool down

As you get better at the circuit you may increase the intervals to 1m30s or increase the number of times you go through the workout.

Here are a few of the different exercises that I use (notice they are separated into legs, arms and core as I usually choose 3 or 4 from each):

-calf raises
-one-legged squats
-squat jumps
-side to side jumps (good for skating, practice preload and then power to the side)
-kneeling in a dog position, leg raises straight back
-kneeling in a dog position again, leg raises out to the side of you

Upper Body
-push-ups –arms very wide
-arms close to body down by stomach (tricep)
-arms shoulder width
-tricep dips
-chin-ups -fists facing you
-fists facing out with arms wider apart
-rollerboard -on stomach
-on back
-on knees

-crunches on your side
-superman back exercise (opposite arm, opposite leg)
-leg raises (you are on your back)
-legs raises (you are on your side)
There are many different core exercises; you can insert your favorite ones.


This can be a very intense workout, by the time you hit the third circuit, stopping looks very inviting...! Trust me, if you stick it out you will have more fun and be much faster on the trails this year.

More Workout Suggestions . . .
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