Cross-Country Skiing in Summer? Yes, You Can! Gone are the days when skiing was limited to the snow season. What first developed as summer training for winter skiing has now evolved into an independent sport of its own and roller skis are the next new thing. You got it right: cross-country skiing in summer is very much a thing. With techniques and equipment very similar to that of winter skiing, summer roller skiing has only one fundamental discriminator: the skis have wheels.
Cross-country skiing is making a big comeback, and for a good reason. To begin with, it’s a great workout; also considered one of the most demanding cardio workouts to exist, this will burn off fat and build muscle as little else can. The fact that this sport is supremely accessible is then the cherry on top. The techniques are simple, and the gear is modest, making it an especially popular choice for beginners.
What is Dryland Training?
Commonly known as ‘strength and conditioning,’ dryland training is a physical activity performed on dry land to enhance one’s physical strength, endurance, flexibility, and mobility. Depending on the individual’s skill level and ability, the type of activity can vary from a few simple exercises and advanced workout regimens to roller skiing.
Typically, dryland training serves the purpose of helping you prepare for the season. Athletes involve themselves with alternative sports, such as roller skiing, to get themselves in shape before the actual season begins.
Similarly, some might develop running routines as their preferred method of dryland training to work out their glutes and hamstrings, and perhaps even build stamina and shed off some extra fat. For the same intended purposes, others choose to head to the gym to get back in shape before they head off to ski. Yet still, enthusiastic skiers may even choose to follow ski conditioning programs to solely focus on their skiing.
4 The Best Roller Skis for Classic and Skate Styles
We have rounded up 4 of the best roller skis for enthusiasts of both the classic and skating skiing styles. Read on ahead to find some of the best options available!
KV+ Launch Skate Roller Skis
The lightweight aluminum alloy frame with built-in stability features of the KV+ Launch Skate Roller Skis makes them a great choice of roller skis. Thanks to the curved shaft, these roller skis have a low center of gravity and can provide increased stability to the skier. The pair of skis comes with both regular and slow sets of wheels.
- Shaft Length (from axis to axis): 23.6″ (60 cm)
- Shafts material: aluminum alloy
- Wheels diameter: 4″ (100 mm)
- Wheels width: 0.95″ (24 mm)
- Weight: 3.4 lb (1550 g)
Swix Classic Roller Skis
These skis are a top pick for skiers into the classic skiing style. The wide bearings and performance wheels help you swiftly ski over average surfaces, while the NIS binding plate provides for easy mounting. The frame is also super lightweight and durable.
Barnett RSE-Entry Roller Ski Skating with Bindings
The Barnett RSE-Entry Skis are for those who wish to waste no time. The mounting and binding have already been cared for, and the wheels are fast. The frame is not only lightweight and sturdy, but it also has extra stability, owing to its low height. However, that’s not all; this all-black pair of roller skis look way too chic to pass up.
Barnett RSE-610 Skating Roller Skis
This pair of skis is designed for skating-style roller skiing. Like any good skis, these are built with strong but lightweight alloy, which offers just enough resistance. There is also a choice of bindings between both NNN and SNS, which make these super compatible with any shoes. The product is ready to use with wheels already mounted.
How to Choose Roller Skis for Dryland Training?
Your choice of roller skis will greatly impact your entire roller skiing experience. Make sure you do it right. To do so, make sure to take the following into account:
Classic, Skate, and Combi
When selecting a pair of skis, the first factor to account for is your preferred style of roller skiing. Each style has its specific requirements; therefore, what works best for each style is different.
For classic skis, an alloy frame with a length of 70 cm or more is recommended. You should also opt for medium or standard-speed wheels. These skis typically feature a reverse lock that is pre-mounted on the frame by the manufacturer. These are significantly important, so even if your skis don’t have these, you should definitely consider getting them fitted.
For skate skis, again, an alloy frame with medium or standard speed wheels is ideal. However, these skis can be shorter than classic skis. The minimum ideal length is 58 cm for adult men and 53 cm for kids and women.
Let’s now discuss our final candidate, combi skis. These skis can be used interchangeably between both the classic and skate styles of skiing. This makes them ideal for learners. While you are learning on combi skis, you are free to try out both styles and see which one works best for you. However, once you have figured out your preferred style, we strongly suggest that you start using dedicated classic or skate roller skis to perfect your technique.
Fiberglass Composite or Aluminium
The difference between fiberglass composite and aluminum is not really about requirements as such, especially for beginners. The key difference is in the price. However, for skiing enthusiasts, we recommend composite frames since they are considerably more comfortable.
While you ski on a composite frame, you feel fewer vibrations rising, and they are also softer to wear. Having said that, you should also know that aluminum frames are stiffer and lighter with optimal power transfer; therefore, they are the better choice for competitive skiing.
All-Terrain Roller Skis
Some skis are dedicated to being used on smooth surfaces, while some are designed for rough surfaces. For skiing enthusiasts, we recommend an all-terrain roller ski for greater choice. These have wider and taller wheels that provide a comfortable skiing experience for bumpy roads without compromising on stability for smooth surfaces. They will seamlessly glide over gravel, grass, and roads just the same.
Breaks and Speed Reducers
Whether you are an amateur skier or a maestro, brakes on your skis will be your best friend. Brakes and speed reducers work with a small lever.
Ski brakes operate just like normal brakes. The skier leans back on the ski, which activates the calf, which, in turn, turns the brake on. The harder you lean back, the harder the skis brake. As for speed reducers, the skier presses down on the lever, and a bearing is pushed against the roller ski wheel, which adds resistance and slows the ski down.
Roller Skiing Tips
Finding a suitable location with the right weather conditions can sometimes be fairly challenging for skiers. Similarly, the choice of gear and technique can also pose a difficult question. If you, too, have been thinking along similar lines, look no further because we have answered all such questions here!
Where and When?
The first thing to look for in a skiing location is a gentle, flat terrain. Additionally, the area should have good visibility and wide shoulders. Finally, low traffic is also a safety requirement.
Given these requirements, bike trails make a good fit for a summer skiing track. Another great location is modern business parks on hours with decreased crowds, such as early mornings on weekends or holidays. Just make sure that you don’t violate any anti-skateboard laws or trespass on private property.
When looking for rolling terrain, we suggest opting for downhills with a moderate slope and ample run-out. This would ensure you don’t build up too much speed and remain safe. This is especially important if you are a beginner with little control over steep slopes.
Compared to Cross Country Skiing on Snow
Roller skiing is an offshoot of cross-country skiing. The key difference is that cross-country skiing on snow has – you guessed it – snow. On the other hand, roller skiing is done on dry, flat land and emulates skiing on snow.
The techniques used in the two are very similar. In fact, roller skiing initially gained popularity as a pre-season summer training for XC skiing on snow instead of a sport of its own. Thus, it only makes sense for the two sports to have a big overlap. Roller skiing also has both classic and skate styles involved, similar gear and equipment, and similar fitness benefits.
With or Without Poles?
The debate over poles has been a popular one with skiers across the globe. Often, skiing without poles is associated with younger kids, novices, and relatively ‘unskilled’ skiers. Is it true, though?
Poles divide the work with your legs and hips and ease a lot of burden off your body. Due to this, it is recommended to use poles for long-term skiing. On top of that, poles help you maintain balance and prevent you from taking a fall.
That said, over-reliance on poles can be risky. Because the poles are there to hold you up, people can often forget to find their body’s center of mass, which can result in an incorrect posture. Similarly, the usage of poles to ‘stop’ is a huge misuse of the equipment. It not only shows that your technique is incorrect but is also extremely risky.
What Equipment do I Need?
The most important piece of equipment you need for roller skiing is, well, roller skis. You need to select the right ski length based on your weight and height; this information should be detailed on your ski size charts.
The choice of ski frames depends on the type of surface you wish to ski on, as well as your style of proficiency and command over it. Next, you need roller ski wheels. The hardness of wheels, again, depends on the type of land you will be skiing on. The final component of your roller ski is the roller ski boots. A wide selection is available, and you can pick one to your liking.
Poles and pole tips are another key part of your skiing gear. Pick these according to your own height and skill level. Make sure to also get a good set of grips and straps for your poles; these will make all the difference to your skiing experience.
Technique for Skiing on Wheels
Any technique that works with skis works with roller skis. That said, it is best to stick to double and double pole kicks, particularly while you are classic rolling. This will help you develop classic techniques and truly master the sport.
For the same reason, it is also recommended to limit diagonal strides when using roller skis. The ratchet in the wheel will produce too perfect a kick, and you may never get to improve your technique for when it snows.
A tricky aspect of roller skiing is braking or stopping. Both the rapid-fire step-turning technique and the snowplow wedge technique are only somewhat effective; you can bet your safety on neither of these. The recommended stopping method for skiing on wheels is the stepping snowplow. One foot at a time, step forward several times. This will create a gradual braking effect and is, by far, more effective than a straight snowplow.
Pre-Season Ski Conditioning for Cross-Country and Backcountry Skiing
Plan Your Training Schedule!
A good training schedule is the first step to a successful skiing season. While a routine is always customized according to the individual’s goals, weight, height, and ability, there are a few general tips that work for all. For a better illustration, we’ve outlined a sample training plan for you.
For a schedule aimed at building muscle, we focus on strength and conditioning exercises. The first two weeks, work out only three days a week. After two weeks, your body will be ready to transition into a 5x/week schedule smoothly.
Once the days are sorted, we come down to time. A day’s workout should be at least 30-60 minutes long, depending on how much your body can take. Now that we also have the time down, you need to move on to the schedule itself. A good 30-minute strength training workout may look like this:
- 3 minutes on a treadmill or elliptical for warm-up
- Squats: 12 reps x 3 sets
- Pullups: 6-8×2
- Pushups: 3-5×2
- Walking Lunge with Rotation: 6×2
- Skater with Uppercut: 6×2
- Step Up with Side Leg Lift: 15 reps on each side
- Deadlift: 12×3
- 30-60 second plank: 1×2
- Chop and Lift: 12×2 on each side
Cross-Country Ski Machines vs Ellipticals
Ski machines are getting increasingly popular these days and on reasonable grounds. They are much more affordable than the average treadmill or elliptical; therefore, they offer a more comfortable fitness investment. They are also lighter, more portable, and more compact. This makes them a great choice for small homeowners or frequent travelers.
However, beginners should know that the XC Ski Machine will take some time to master. If you give up quickly, this may not be the choice for you. Once you do get the hang of it, though, you can get a full-body workout like never before and reap the incomparable benefits of skiing movements.
Are ski machines really better than your standard elliptical, then? Well, each has its benefits. Ellipticals come with more entertainment options and can thus offer a more ‘fun’ workout. Moreover, ellipticals can be very well incorporated into your ski conditioning training. You can use the machine’s warm-up option to warm up.
Similarly, the ellipticals’ settings can be adjusted to perform exercises similar to rows and pull-ups by really engaging your core and upper body. That said, ellipticals are still not as likely to give the full-body, all-encompassing workout as a good ski machine can.
Ultimately, it all comes down to personal preferences. Both cross-country ski machines and ellipticals offer great cardiovascular, aerobic exercise, and therefore, the use of either will result in enhanced strength, flexibility, and fitness. You just need to opt for the one you enjoy most. The better you enjoy your machine, the more likely you are to consistently use it, and the better you will train.
If you jump right into a heavy workout without having first warmed up, you risk pulling or hurting a stiff muscle. Therefore, it is imperative that you allow your muscles to ease into a workout by warming up for 5-10 minutes.
A warm-up is as simple as it gets. You can go for a brisk walk, do a series of jumping jacks, skip rope, do a couple of simple lunges, stretch, or jog on the treadmill at a low speed. This is really all about your personal preference. The only rule is to not skip the warm-up!
Exercises for Pre-Season Workout
Once you are warmed up and ready to take it to the next step, turn to these incredibly effective exercises detailed below.
Walking Lunge with Rotation
Start by placing six cones nearly 5 yards apart in a zig-zag pattern. Take a step forward with your right leg and position yourself in a lunge in the direction of the first cone. Then lower your hips until your left knee is positioned an inch or two off the floor. Bring your arms up to the shoulder level towards your right leg. Make sure to engage your entire torso in this rotation by tucking your stomach in and keeping the muscles taut. Now, step forward with the left leg in the direction of the second cone, and keep repeating until you complete the zig-zag pattern.
- What Prop You Need: Six Cones
- Which Muscles Does It Work: Hip Flexors, Hamstrings, Glutes, and Abs
Skater with Uppercut
Place your feet hip-width apart and hold a dumbbell in each hand. Hop onto your right foot, such that your left leg is raised in the air. Holding that position, bring your left arm up towards your chest as if aiming for an uppercut punch.
While bringing your arm up, engage your core as much as possible by slightly tilting forward from the torso. Hold the position for a few seconds, then hop onto the left foot and repeat. You can modify this exercise by adjusting the weight of the dumbbells and also by how far you choose to hop during each rep.
- What Prop You Need: Two Lightweight Dumbbells
- Which Muscles Does It Work: Abs, Glutes, and Quads
Single-Leg Squat and Row
Start by deciding the amount of weight to be used on the cable. Once done, plant your right foot down on the floor, and tuck your core in. Lift your left foot off the floor, making sure that the left leg stays close to the right leg but does not touch it.
Now hold the cable in the right hand. Once you have positioned yourself correctly, bend the left leg as if aiming to sit in a chair and squat until your hips are parallel to the floor. Focus on your glutes by clenching them fully, and row your arm holding the cable. Repeat with the opposite side.
- What Prop You Need: Weighted Cable Machine
- Which Muscles Does It Work: Glutes and Quads
Step Up with Side Leg Raise
Begin with your right foot on the step and your left foot on the floor. Then, step up until you are fully balanced on your right leg, and your left leg is in the air. Keeping your right leg straight, gradually raise your left leg outwards and upwards, then back again. Finally, return to the starting position. Do 15 repetitions on each side.
- What Prop You Need: Stepping stool, at least 8 inches high
- Which Muscles Does It Work: Quads, Hip Flexors, and Glutes
Squat Reverse Lunge with Knee Raise
Squat with your hips parallel to the floor and your feet shoulder-width apart. Then stand back up and take your left leg backward in a lunge, bending both your knees at 90-degree angles, such that the back knee hovers over the ground. Shift all your weight onto the right foot as you lift your left foot, moving your left knee to your chest. Finally, place the left foot back on the floor. Repeat ten times on each leg.
- What Prop You Need: None
- Which Muscles Does It Work: Calves, Glutes, and Quads
Plank with Single Arm Row
Start in a plank position with your feet planted wide apart and a dumbbell in each hand. Row your right elbow back as you bring the dumbbell towards your chest. Return the dumbbell to the floor and repeat on the left side. Make sure that your body is straight like a plank throughout the exercise. You can do this by keeping your pelvis tucked in, not letting your hips swing, and keeping your chin slightly drawn in while keeping your gaze on the floor. Do 15 repetitions on each arm.
- What Prop You Need: Two dumbbells
- Which Muscles Does It Work: Abs, Lats, Shoulders, and Core
Chop and Lift
A combination of two supremely effective exercises, this is one not to be missed. For the first half, secure the band at shoulder height. Stand on the side of the band such that you can easily grab it with both hands. Then, with both your hands holding the free end of the band, plant your feet wide apart and use your core to pull the band down across your body. The key here is to engage your core muscles instead of your arms. Repeat 15 times facing either side.
For the second half, secure the resistance band at ankle height. Stand sideways to the band such that when your hands hold the band, the band stands taut and tensed. Again, with both your hands holding the free end of the band, plant your feet wide apart. Rotate your upper body upwards as you begin using your core to pull the band upwards across your body. Keep pulling and rotating until your arms are straightened out, and you begin facing the other direction. Repeat 15 times on either side.
- What Prop You Need: Resistance Band
- Which Muscles Does It Work: Abs, Obliques, Glutes, Quads, Hamstrings, and Calves
A strong core is one of the most integral components of physical fitness when it comes to cross-country skiing. Below are some easy exercises to enhance the strength and flexibility of your core.
- Planks: Start your core workout with three front planks and three side planks. Hold each position for 30-60 seconds. Make sure your body is straight all across and your pelvis is tautly drawn in.
- Crunches and V-Ups: In order to prevent your back from straining, you have to activate your abdominal muscles. This is where crunches enter the scene. Begin with 20-30 controlled and light crunches. Then advance to V-Ups when you feel charged enough. Aim for three sets of 15 V-Ups each.
- Windshield Wipers: Laying on your back with your legs up in the air, gradually sway your feet from right to left as close as possible to the ground. Repeat 10-20 times in each direction.
- Supine Leg Lift: Resting on your back, lift your legs off the floor. Draw your pelvis in, and make sure your lower back touches the floor. Hold the position for 30-60 seconds, aiming for a total of 240 seconds.
- Russian Twist: Do these twists only when you are certainly warmed up in the core. Lay on your back with your feet firmly planted on the floor, knees bent. Now lift your torso off the ground. Twist from left to right from the hips onwards, and then back. Repeat 15 times.
Upper Body Workout
Listed below are some simple yet effective upper body exercises that will go a long way in toning you up. All you need is some basic equipment, some workout space in your home, and 20-30 minutes three times a week.
- Pullups: Stand under the pull-up bar with your feet hip-width apart. Lightly jump up to reach the bar with your hands, and hang from the bar with your arms extended completely. You can bend your knees if you find your legs touching the ground. Then, pull your body up using your shoulders, back, and abdominal muscles. Keep pulling yourself up until your chin crosses the bar. Just as slowly, bring yourself back down until your arms are fully extended once more. Do three repetitions.
- Pushups: Assume a plank position and make sure your glutes and core are fully engaged. Then, slightly lower your chest to the floor by bending at your elbows. Push back up into your original stance with straightened arms, powering through your palms. Do three repetitions.
- Dips: Sit on a chair with your feet firmly planted on the floor. Grip the sides of the seat with your hands, and slowly move your upper body off the chair. Keep going until your buttocks are in the air and knees slightly bent. Then begin lowering your body by bending at your elbows; breathe in as you do this. Finally, push back up to your original position while you breathe out. Do three repetitions.
Additional Workout Tips
- Never skip arm day: upper-body strength is just as crucial when it comes to skiing, and flimsy arms will get you nowhere even if your legs are in the greatest shape.
- Consistency is key: no workout will help you if you fail to follow through with it. Muscles take time to respond, and you must stick to your routine for the prescribed duration of time.
- Switch it up: changing up your routine from time to time will not only keep the fun alive for you, but it will also prevent your body from getting used to a workout and therefore not responding to it.
This might have been a lot of information to take in in one go, but don’t let it scare you. All that matters is that you step outdoors and have fun with the sport. Remember to pick a good location, good-quality gear, and stay safe!