Cross-country skiing, which is an event in the upcoming 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, isn’t just an incredible sport to watch– it’s also an excellent exercise for getting in shape fast! It combines low-impact cardiovascular exercise with strengthening activities that get your heart pressure down and your upper and lower body stronger. Read on to find out what exactly cross-country skiing is, how to get started, and an exercise in the gym that targets the same muscles as cross-country skiing does, if you just don’t have any snow nearby.
Cross-country skiing originated in Norway in the mid-19th century, with the first ever race on record recorded in 1842. Holmenkollen, a famous Norwegian skiing festival, had cross-country skiing on the books in 1901. Since then, men’s cross-country skiing was added to the Olympic Games during the 1924 Olympics in Chamonix, and the women’s program came later, during the 1952 Oslo Olympic Games. Paralympic athletes were able to compete in cross-country skiing in 1976. The international governing body of cross-country skiing, the International Ski Federation, hosts several international skiing competitions, many of which are dominated by the Nordic countries.
Get Started Skiing
To efficiently cross-country ski, all you need are skis, poles, boots, bindings to strap into your skis, and an almost flat place to begin practicing on! To get momentum and get started, cross-country skiers traditionally use a rhythm they call “kick-glide,” where they kick off with one foot while they glide with the other, like the motions involved in ice-skating. Although your average skis are great for beginners, serious cross-country skiers often have smaller, more specialized waxed skis for additional speed.
Gym Exercises to Increase Your Speed
When you ski, the muscles primarily involved are your hamstrings, hips, quadriceps, foot muscles, and calves. If you don’t have enough snow near you to practice or if you just want to strengthen each muscle before you begin skiing, try this plyometric exercise!
Side-to-side jumps, commonly known as skiers (go figure,) are a great way to get some of the aerobic conditioning in with your lower-body strengthening that is so common in cross-country skiing. To perform these, balance on one foot, with the other foot off the ground and resting in the air behind you. With your other foot, leap to the other side, tucking the formerly weight-bearing foot behind you. Repeat at your own pace for as long as you can.
Have you ever cross-country skied before? Do you have any recommendations for new skiers? Let us know in the comments below!