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What is Spenst training? Spenst training is a well-worn mode of training that is practiced in some form or another by world-class skiers the world over. Spenst is a Norwegian word that means either explosiveness or literally "Boing!"
Spenst training involves ski specific plyometric exercises that develop power, explosiveness, balance and strength. If you are looking to gain that extra snap in your technique, learn to accelerate over the tops of hills, around corners, sprint to the finish, improve balance and strength, or just impress your friends at parties, then spenst training is for you.
Ski technique has always demanded a quick, dynamic kick, for both skating and classic, and spenst training is a great way to develop it. Often it is the skiers who seem to be skiing with the least effort that have the most dynamic kick. Their secret is a dynamic push and then relaxation of the pushing muscles. Spenst is a great addition to training and it yields noticeable results with a fairly small time investment of 10 to 15 minutes a week.
Goal: develop power and balance.
Means: several short repetitions of the following exercises with full rest. Gaining maximum distance with each jump - going as far as possible in the shortest number of jumps. Generally one takes between 10 and 20 jumps in a row (10-20 seconds of work) followed by a good recovery (about 2 minutes should suffice).
Type of spenst exercises
One-legged hop: This is a spenst training staple. As the name suggests you will be hopping on one leg - up a hill. Start with a tame grade and build toward a steeper hill. Take 10-15 jumps on one leg moving continuously up the hill (don't stop between jumps, but keep your momentum going); walk slowly back down the hill and take the same number of jumps on the other leg. Repeat 2 to 3 (or more as you build up to it) times.
Stationary Skate hop (Side-jump): Simply jump sideways back and fourth as if skating from leg to leg aiming for max distance with each leap. Make sure you have your balance on each leg before you leap again. You can use your arms as if you were skating. You shouldn't move forward, but should leap directly sideways off the whole foot, side to side, in the same place.
Take 10-15 leaps per leg, rest, repeat.
Bunny hop: Return to the hill where you did the one legged hops. This time hop with both legs at once. Unlike the one-legged jumps, hesitate slightly between jumps so that energy must be regenerated with each jump. This is a killer, and can cause soreness as well as loud guffaws, snarks, snorts and general hilarity among spectators.
Organization of workout
Warm up very, very well. Stretch thoroughly and begin slowly to make sure you are warm enough. The goal is not to work out your aerobic system, so take your time and recover well between each set of jumps so that you can make maximal efforts with each jump and each set of jumps.
Placement of workout in the week: It is best to place spenst training after a bit of rest because for it to have maximal effect you should be fresh enough to perform the work maximally.
Midway through an easy distance run or after warming up (the Jr. team I trained with in Sweden for a year did spenst as part of an interval workout) stop at a nice grassy hill. Stretch out some; perform a few easy one-legged jumps, side jumps and bunny hops (bunny hops can make your whole body sore if you're not careful).
When you are ready, take 15 one-legged jumps up the hill. Walk slowly down the hill and then take 15 jumps on the other leg. If it is your first outing take not more than 2 times up the hill per leg. The idea is to try to get further up the hill with the same number of jumps each time.
Do the skate jumps, and bunny hops and be creative with jumps of your own creation. Just remember it isn't spenst if it isn't explosive - more isn't better.
If you are too tired to jump far, or if you feel any twinge of pain or pull, stop (start slowly to avoid injury!) Warm down well. The whole spenst routine can take as little as 10 minutes and so on a day when time is limited spenst is a great workout option.
If running and jumping is not in your repertoire, power can also be built on a bike with 15 to 20 second sprints up a very steep hill. Do some sprints seated and some standing, some in a tough gear and some spinning in an easy gear to work all the muscles. Explosiveness of this kind is more difficult to build on rollerskis, but like on the bike, sprints of 15-20 seconds on a steep hill are effective.