So Wrong It's Right

Nordic Skiing

Thaw power: swimming is a nordic skier's best friend     Photo: Gregg Segal

YOUR SPORT IS: NORDIC SKIING
CHANGE-UP REGIMEN: SWIMMING
THE CONNECTION?: BACK STRENGTH
Swimming provides the best all-around way to simulate the strength and endurance you'll need during a long day on the cross-country ski trails. "Modern skate-skiers' torsos have that inverted-triangle look," says Kipp, "exactly like a well-muscled, competitive swimmer. It comes from pushing off with their poles."

Any swimming stroke will help improve your stride, but the butterfly translates best to cross-country skiing. "Look at a nordic skier and the way he leans over the poles when he's driving through his stride. His lower spine muscles pull a heck of a lot of weight," says Kipp. "In the butterfly stroke, as you porpoise through the water, you'll use a lot of similar back-stabilization muscles to flex your torso."

The Exercise: Jump into the pool and practice the butterfly for 20 to 30 minutes. Too tough? Alternate each lap with a pool-length stretch of easier freestyle swimming.

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