Ski yourself fit

Cross-train using Nordic track ski machines

Nordic track skiing machines are increasingly finding their way into gyms and offer a great form of cross-training to complement your day-to-day running program, developing different areas of the body. Here’s the realbuzz.com quick guide to how Nordic track machines can improve your running.

Nordic track ski machines start at about £299 and go up to around £599. This may seem a little expensive compared to a pair of running shoes or a heart rate monitor, but the expense is worth it as they are fantastic machines.

Ski machines are great way of improving your cardiovascular fitness. You use the machine in an exaggerated fast walking motion but the beauty of it is that there is no jarring or impact related problems. The machines are smooth, and once you have mastered the technique, they can be used for very hard as well as steady sessions. The only draw back is that it is difficult to do sprint work or flat-out fast sessions on them. This is where alternative cross-training methods can help, such as wet-vesting or biking.

On the ski machine, start steady and get a feel for it. It does feel a little strange to start with and may take a few attempts to feel completely comfortable. Once the technique has been mastered the world is your oyster. However, you will find new muscles in your legs you never knew existed, especially in your quads, so take it steady the first few times.

Think of the machine as a 90 per cent replacement for running. Steady state and repetition sessions can be done the same as on the roads or country with the same intensity and recovery times. To top everything, the machine can also be used in front of the TV or listening to music to alleviate the boredom problem on a long ski.

Our top tip is to use the machine in conjunction with a heart rate monitor that has high and low limits. This makes it easier to work at the correct intensity and gives you something to concentrate on when skiing for a reasonable period. It is possible to position the heart rate monitor in front of you on the bar so that you can see it at all times. There is no excuse for not doing a hard session on it.

Sessions to try are very similar to running ones with steady state runs being the same length (in time) as outdoor runs.

Here are a few repetition sessions for you to try:

1. 6 x 3 minutes (1.5 minutes recovery)

2. 10 to 15 x 1 minute (30 to 45 seconds recovery)

3. 4 to 5 x 5 minutes (2 minutes recovery)

4. 1 to 2 x 5/4/3/2/1 minute (2.5/2/1.5/1 minute recovery and 5 minutes recovery between sets)

5. 2 to 4 x 3 minutes + 2 minutes (1 minute recovery between repetitions, and 3 minutes recovery between sets)

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