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Use Plyometrics to Develop Explosive Strength for Cross Country Skiing

Photos and Video

Mon, Aug  28, 2006 - By Mike Muha

Plyometrics give the cross country skier explosive strength and speed of movement. In plyometrics, the muscle is first stretched (the eccentric or lengthening phase) then immediately shortened (the concentric phase). The muscle briefly stores energy during the eccentric phase. This potential energy can be partially recovered during the concentric phase - but only if the conversion from eccentric to concentric contractions takes place in a tenth of a second or so.

So what does this mean for cross country skiers?

  • Plyometrics training develops a shortened amortization period - the phase between the eccentric and concentric phases. The shorter the phase, the faster the "kick".
  • It also develops more power, because the shorter the amortization period, the more energy stored by the eccentric phase can be used during the concentric phase. The shorter the phase, the stronger the "kick."

At the June Training Camp, Sten Fjeldheim and Jenny Ryan had us do six different plyometric drills that are specific to cross country skiers.

Sten recommends starting with four repetitions and increasing to 10-12 reps over time - you don't need to do more! Plyometrics prestreches the muscle, then fires it. You will get sore - not from lactate acid buildup, but because of small, minute tears in your muscle.

And you will get sore. We did no more than four reps each, and the vast majority of us had problems walking for the rest of the week! Don't worry, it goes away, and as your body adapts, you stop being sore after a session. Those first couple sessions will be doozies, however, so be prepared!

It's absolutely critical you do a good warm up first. Go do a nice run and get a sweat going. maybe stretch a little, then start the drills.

In each of the photo examples below, there is no pause between movements: at the end of one rep, you immediately begin the next.

Links to the videos show each of these drills are listed at the bottom of the page.

Explode Up! Squat down and touch your fingers to the ground then explode up.

Frog jump Go for distance.

Single-Legged Strides Notice the starting and ending position are the same - and on the same leg. Do one set using the right leg and a second set using the left.

Star Jumps Go down into a ball, jump straight up into a star. Repeat!

Skier's Lunge Hands on your head, torso upright, step up the hill. Notice: left knee, then right knee, then left...

Stationary Lunges Hands on your head, torso upright, lunge straight up (go for height!), land on the opposite foot and knee.



Here's the same drills, but on video. There's also a short discussion on plyometrics by Sten. Pick your video format:

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