Monday, December 04, 2006



I am very grateful to Stuart Montgomery for putting together this training course.
As well as being a fellow INWA Nordic Walking Instructor Stuart is a Director of Tour Operator XCuk Ltd the company who are providing the Nordic Walking News cross-country skiing holiday to Norway this coming February.

Welcome to our 10-week Ski Readiness course. It’s intended mainly for those of you who are joining our cross-country ski week in Norway in February (see for details). But it is suitable for anyone who wants to combine Nordic Walking and other activities in order to boost their general fitness.

Nordic Walking is great for improving stamina. But there are other aspects of fitness besides stamina - muscle strength, muscle endurance, flexibility and balance – and our course will work on all of them.

Every week we will post an article with the programme for that week. The course is progressive – which means that it gets harder as it goes on. The usual warning applies – if you have any doubts at all about your health or your suitability for fitness training then please see your medical practitioner before starting.

We are now in Week 1 and your main task – apart from simply getting started! – is to prepare yourself for the rest of the course. There are four parts to this preparation.


Each week we will offer three levels of workout...

1) Easy
2) Not so easy
3) Hard that you can choose the one most suitable for you. We can use your current level of Nordic Walking as a rough measure of where you should start. On average, how many sessions do you do every week?

- If you do 5 or more sessions every week – put yourself in Category A

- If you do 3 or 4 sessions every week – put yourself in Category B

- If you do 2 sessions or fewer every week – put yourself in Category C

Having put yourself into one of the above categories, do the warm-up routine described below, and then go out Nordic Walking and walk for exactly one hour on a route that you can measure. Walk at a brisk but comfortable pace. You should feel that you are having a good workout, but you should still be able to maintain a conversation throughout.

How far did you walk?

- If you covered 4 miles (6.4km) or more, then stay in the category you achieved in the previous section.

- If you did less than 4 miles, drop down one category.

- If you were already in Category C, don’t worry - just stay in Category C.

We will refer to these categories every week until the end of the course.


In cross-country skiing you use the same muscles as when Nordic Walking. So as a regular Nordic walker you should already be in pretty good shape for skiing. But we want to help you get into even better shape, and each week we will include a muscle-toning workout.

We start now, and our first workout uses an exercise called Mini Squats.

Mini squats are good for developing the muscles of the upper leg: the quadriceps (front of thigh), hamstrings (back of thigh) and gluteals (buttocks). They also help to strengthen the knees. You can do them at home without any special equipment.

1) Begin by standing with your back straight and with your abdominal muscles slightly engaged.

2) Relax your shoulders and keep your hands low and loose.

3) Place your feet hip-width apart and keep your heels on the ground throughout (don't rise up on to your toes).

4) Now slowly squat down until your knees are above and in line with your toes. At the same time bend forward just a little at the hips. Keep your head facing forwards – don’t look down. Hold this position for a second and then slowly stand up again. You have just done one “repetition” of this exercise.

Note: When you hold the squat for one second in the bent knee position, this is very similar to the position you adopt when skiing straight down a slope.

For this week, whether you are in Category A, B or C, you should attempt two or three sets of about 10 repetitions in a session. And do two or three sessions in the week.


Mobilisation exercises are good for loosening your joints and warming up your muscles. Before every session we recommend you perform the following sequence, which starts with the ankles and works up through the body. It will take no more than 10 minutes. You do these exercises while standing still.

For the first exercises in the sequence, you can use your Nordic walking poles for balance.

Ankle Circles:

Lift one foot a few inches from the ground and slowly rotate your ankle, making a big easy circle with your toes. Keep your leg fairly straight while doing this. Do five circles in one direction, then five in the other direction. Now repeat with the other foot.

Ankles – Flex & Point:

Lift one foot a few inches from the ground. Keeping your leg straight, now very gently bring your toes up and back, as if you were trying to point your big toe up at your face. Hold this for a second and then tilt your foot so that your toes are pointing downward at the ground in front of you. Hold for a second. Repeat the movements five times. Then repeat the sequence with the other foot.

Heel Lifts:

Bring one heel up behind you to about knee height (knee is bent). Return your foot to the ground and repeat the movement with the other foot (alternating foot to foot). Repeat the movement five times with each foot.

Knee Lifts:

Now lift one foot off the ground and bring your knee up in front of you (knee is bent) to around waist height. Return it to the ground and repeat with the other knee. Do five times with each foot. This exercise helps to loosen the hips as well as the knees.

Hip Circles:

Now place your feet a little wider than shoulder width apart. Then rotate your hips as if you were using a hula hoop. Do this slowly and gently, and do five rotations in one direction then five in the other.

Now lay down your Nordic walking poles and start to loosen your shoulders.

Shoulder Circles:

Start by rotating one shoulder up and back and round. Do five rotations. Then do the same with the other shoulder. Now repeat in the opposite direction - up and forward and round. Now repeat again this time by rotating both shoulders together. Five rotations in one direction and then do five in the opposite direction.

Front Crawl Swimming:

For the last exercise in this sequence, continue to stand upright and simply move your hands and arms as if you were swimming front crawl. Take it easy and don’t strain. About five strokes with each arm will be plenty.

Now you are ready to go out Nordic Walking.

Note: In a second posting this week we will include some post exercise stretches for you to follow, so plesae check back in a couple of days.

Happy training!

Stuart Montgomery (Director - XCuk Ltd)

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