How to Get in Shape for Cross Country Skiing

The Health Benefits of Cross Country Skiing

Cross country skiing is not only a fun and exhilarating winter sport but also an excellent way to stay fit. It offers a full-body workout that engages various muscle groups, improves cardiovascular endurance, boosts balance and coordination, strengthens bones, and enhances overall mental wellbeing. If you’re ready to hit the slopes this season, follow these steps to get in shape for cross country skiing.

1. Start with Cardiovascular Conditioning

Before hitting the trails on your skis, it’s important to build a solid foundation of cardiovascular fitness. Engage in activities such as running, cycling, or swimming that raise your heart rate steadily over an extended period. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity cardiovascular exercise three times per week.


– Warm up adequately before each session.
– Gradually increase the duration and intensity of your workouts.
– Monitor your heart rate during exercise using a fitness tracker or monitor.

2. Strengthen Your Core

A strong core plays a vital role in maintaining proper posture while skiing and helps transfer power efficiently from your upper body to lower body movements. Incorporate exercises like planks, side planks, Russian twists, and bicycle crunches into your routine two or three times per week.


– Focus on engaging all core muscles including abdominals,
and back muscles.
– Practice static holds along with dynamic movements for optimal results.
– Maintain correct form throughout each exercise.

3. Work on Lower Body Endurance

Building endurance in the lower body is crucial for better performance on cross country skis. Target key muscle groups like quadriceps,
and calves to improve strength and stamina. Exercises like squats, lunges, step-ups, and calf raises should be included in your workout regimen.


– Use proper form and technique to avoid injury.
– Gradually increase the weights or resistance as you progress.
– Incorporate plyometric exercises such as box jumps for explosive power.

4. Don’t Forget Upper Body Strength

While cross country skiing predominantly engages the lower body, a strong upper body can greatly enhance your performance and stability on the trails. Include exercises that target the arms, shoulders,
and back muscles such as push-ups,
dumbbell rows,
shoulder presses,
and lat pulldowns at least twice per week.


– Choose weights that challenge you but allow for proper form.
– Keep a balanced approach to maintain overall symmetry.
– Focus on both pushing and pulling movements.

5. Flexibility Matters

Maintaining good flexibility is essential in preventing injuries while skiing. A flexible body helps with better range of motion and allows fluid movements on uneven terrains. Incorporate stretching exercises targeting major muscle groups into your routine regularly.


– Perform dynamic stretches before exercise sessions to warm up muscles.
– Include static stretches after workouts when muscles are warm.
– Practice yoga or Pilates to improve overall flexibility and core strength.

6. Work on Balance and Coordination

Cross country skiing requires excellent balance and coordination skills to glide efficiently over various snow conditions. To enhance these abilities, incorporate balance training exercises into your routine using tools like Bosu balls or wobble boards.


– Start with simple balancing exercises before progressing to advanced ones.
– Add variations by closing your eyes or incorporating arm movements during balancing exercises.

7. Gradually Increase Skiing Time

Once you’ve built a good foundation of fitness, start hitting the trails on your cross country skis. Begin with shorter sessions and gradually increase your skiing time as your endurance improves. Remember to maintain proper form and listen to your body for any signs of fatigue or overexertion.


– Start with well-groomed trails suitable for beginners.
– Pay attention to proper skiing technique from the beginning.
– Stay hydrated and fuel your body adequately during longer ski outings.

By following these steps and incorporating them into a consistent training routine, you’ll be well-prepared physically for an enjoyable cross country skiing experience. Lace up those boots, grab those poles, and embrace the winter wonderland!