Monday, August 31, 2009

Matt Liebsch's Top Ten

Matt Liebsch's Top 10 Basic Dryland/ Rollerski Tips

Matt Liebsch is a member of the CXC Elite cross country ski team and a graduate of the University of Minnesota with a BS in Electrical Engineering.He is an Olympic hopeful and had a very successful 2009 season… 3rd Place at US Nationals, Mora Vasaloppet winner and American Birkebeiner Champion.When Matt is not training and racing he is helping out at Gear West or spending time with his wife, one-year-old son and new baby girl Samantha.

1) No-poles skating: Skate roller skiing without poles is great for technique and for specific strength. Focus on pushing side to side and not back. Make sure to transfer weight 100%. Eliminate stepping up but rather focus on having the feeling of falling forward on your skis… free speed. Be symmetric in the lower body… have a friend video so you can watch yourself.

2) Increased Core Strength: We can all improve here! The stronger your core, the faster you will ski. Sit-ups, sit-ups with weight, medicine ball work, russian twists, planks, core braces, back braces, side braces, back-ups, inverted sit-ups, side sit-ups, rows, half rows, book slaps, leg throws, leg lifts… get the idea?

3) Poling Specific Strength: I have found great gains in doing this type of training. Single stick, up-hill, try it. As you get better at it you will be faster. Also, double poling and core only double poling up steep hills will improve ski fitness and strength.

4) Take lessons/Get a coach: Training below or above your target intensity is a good way to over-train or miss training opportunities. You should have a V02max test or lactate profile test completed to set your training zones. A coach can offer invaluable advice when it comes to training and technique. Ski lessons are another means to increase efficiency, especially if you take lessons from someone with a keen eye for technique.

5) Eat smart and get fit: A solid diet will give you the proper nutrition to feel great when training and throughout the day. Also, exercise and a proper diet will help one achieve an ideal weight. Let's face it, our sport is power endurance based. Increase the power and decrease the weight and you'll go faster for a given effort.

6) Use poles for Dry-land: Incorporate poles as often as possible when you are dry-land training specifically on foot. If you are going on a run, bring your poles and use them. Ski walking and ski bounding are great activities while using poles. Really think about activating the core and engaging the poles. Drive the arms and don't just use your legs.

7) Get stronger: Get to the gym or run to the nearest playground. Can you do 10 pull-ups? Not easy? Then strength is probably an area you can improve on and see gains in your skiing. This is where a training group/coach can be helpful. If you are going to be spending time in the gym you want to make sure you are working on exercises that will translate to your skiing. Working up to 50lb curls will probably not help you ski faster. Dips, pull-ups, one legged squats, lat pull-downs, over-head triceps extension, and lunges are all good ski specific exercises.

8) Plyos: Great for working on quickness, explosiveness, and speed… all things that we want to see in our skiing. Be careful if you have sensitive knees when attempting any of the one-leg exercises. Try the following during dryland sessions; Two-leg vertical jumps, standing broad jumps, one-leg vertical hops, one-leg vertical bounds, classic box jumps, skate box jumps, vertical bounds, lunge jumps, one-leg squat jumps, classic jumps, stationary lateral bounds, uphill lateral bounds, uphill striding bounds, skipping, standard box jumps, cross-over jumps, hurdles, and vertical displacement jumps to name a few.

9) Go fast on rollerskis: If you move slowly all the time on your roller skis that could become your style on snow skis. Go fast! Anything from 10 second speed bursts to 20 min threshold intervals is great. If you want to be a fast skier you have to train it. I really like threshold intervals for good fitness gains and moving at a speed that allows you to think about good technique without going in the tank.

10) Go long or hard – not both: I see many master skiers training at L2+ pace much of the time. You can only train hard or long… not both, so you need to differentiate. Going L2+ all the time will result in your ability to race at L2+ very well but what happens when the racers next to you moves into L3 or worse yet, L4 for the uphill? You are done. Make sure to incorporate intervals and distance in your training. If you don't feel good on your interval days it means you went too hard on your distance days. Also, if you feel super duper great on your distance days it probably means your body is ready to handle more intensity.