Let’s Go Ski Walking!
|Training & Technique|
By ANTONINA ANIKINA
“If you can walk, you can ski.” For over 20 years it
was the premise for attracting people to the sport of
cross country skiing. We all know that there’s much
more to skiing. Ski walking, to be precise, can contribute
to a greater performance in on-snow, cross
country skiing. With the coaching insights of top
level, coach, Russian-American Antonina Anikina, we
can prepare for the upcoming ski season with one of
the most efficient and effective off-season conditioning
and ski preparation exercises. Ed.)
With fall approaching, now is the time to teach or
remind our muscles what ski technique feels like.
The best exercises for this are ski walking, ski imitation,
elastic imitation, bounding imitation, and roller
Everyone can benefit from ski walking, not just
skiers, because it uses all of the body’s muscles. It
can be practiced when there is no snow or if you
have no other dry land training equipment such as
roller skis or a Nordic track. Perhaps you are not a
skier at all and are just looking for a good workout.
The accompanying series of images illustrate
basic ski walking. Shown here are exaggerated front
and back views. Exaggeration helps to clearly show
(and feel) the body motions. The yellow lines on my
shoulders and hips make it easier to see the twisting,
lifting, and dropping of my body, shoulders and hips.
The vertical green line shows the head and spine
Let’s go ski walking!
- Start by leaning forward from the ankles while
using your regular walking pace. Your step should be
- Loosen and use your hips to extend your stride
(“loose hips”). Think of doing the twist. See the yel-low
line on my hips. Your step is getting longer
- Now use your shoulders to further extend your
stride (“heavy shoulders”). How? Look at the yellow
line on the shoulders in the photos. Your steps
should be longer. If not, they will be. Patience!
- Drop your hip. See the level of the knees in
images: 5, 6, and 7.
- As you make your step, extend your arms (“long
arms”). Images: 9 and 10. Continue to walk from the
hips and you will feel your whole body stretching.
- With your arms swinging back, let gravity help you
make a swinging pendulum motion. Images: 8 and 9.
- At the end of your pendulum motion, stop your
arm in the back in a line parallel with your back.
- After the stop of the motion, the arm begins swing-ing
forward in a pendulum motion. Again, feel your
- Stop the forward swing of your arm at approxi-mately
the level of your face. There should be no
shifting of the upper body from side to side.
- Feel “long arms” and “heavy shoulders” as in
images 9 and 10.
- Flick your foot forward. Images: 1, 2, 14, and 15.
- Keep your head and shoulders down.
- Feel the “long leg” using loose hips (full extension
of the leg in the back). Images: 4 and 5.
- Keep your heel down - and consciously feel it. See
images 1, 10, 11, and 12. Important! Walk with the
whole sole, not just with ball of the foot.
There are many body motions to focus on. Many
coordinated body motions will transform your walking
into ski walking and finally skiing. Focus on four
or more key motions in a cycle as you ski walk. Do
regular walking in between to feel the contrast and
to rest. Then to lock it into muscle memory, repeat it
again and again.
Like any form of exercise you should begin with a
regular warm-up. An ideal ski walking program
would be one or more hours, two to three times per week. This will help develop stamina.
All of these motions will give you the feeling of
twisting your body around your spine. Even if you
have minor back, neck, shoulder, hip, or knee problems,
day by day, you should feel better. You will feel
more and more comfortable and will be able to walk
longer and faster. Yes, it takes time, energy and discipline, but you will build your technique and general
stamina as well as ski-specific stamina.
When you begin skiing on snow, you will use
these same steps and motions. You will be pleasantly
surprised with your improvements!
“Believe me, 100 percent!” Antonina