Cross-country skiing has challenged winter sports enthusiasts for centuries with its strenuous, full-body workout. Like many winter sports, cross-country skiing is more enjoyable when performed in a fit condition. If your muscles aren't prepared for the challenge, you risk straining or injuring them during an outing. As cross-country skiing relies on the motion of your arms and legs to propel you forward using poles and skis, you will need to work both your upper and lower body during the offseason. Focus on strengthening your arms, legs, back and chest muscles through a variety of strength-training exercises.
Upper Body Strengthening
Cross country skiing relies on the strength of your arms for poling to push your body forward and gain momentum. During the offseason, prepare your upper body for this challenge with bicep curls, tricep dips, bench presses and pushups.
Lower Body Strengthening
The basic stride technique in cross-country skiing relies on your leg muscles to slide your skis forward in the tracks. The main muscles required for this motion are your thighs and calves, which can be strengthened in warmer weather through inline skating and running. You can also work these muscles, along with your gluteals, through strength-training exercises such as lunges, squats, leg presses and wall sits.
Strengthening Your Back and Core
In addition to your leg and arm muscles, it's important to strengthen your back and abdominal muscles for cross-country skiing. Join a Pilates or yoga class that focuses on strengthening your core muscles through poses such as the Plank pose. A class can also help you stay on track to meet your strengthening goals so you are ready when the cold weather comes.
One of the more effective training techniques for cross-country skiers is a workout on an elliptical trainer, also called a cross trainer. This machine can be used in the offseason or in harsh or inclement weather to strengthen almost all of the muscles you will use while cross-country skiing. The pedals are elevated off the ground and can more forward, backward and up and down to help simulate the striding movement made while cross-country skiing. In addition, your arms can get a workout through the pumping motion. Adjust the incline and resistance levels on the elliptical trainer for a more challenging workout.
Joelle Dedalus began writing professionally for websites such as PugetSoundMagazine.com in 2009. She received her B.A. in English education at Iowa State University and is currently a M.F.A. candidate in creative nonfiction writing at Emerson College in Boston, where she is developing a manuscript on literary travel. Her areas of expertise include travel and literature, the outdoors and the arts.