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How to do Speed Work

Thu, Apr  26, 2007 - By Mike Muha


Athletes Chris Cook, Torin Koos, and Andy Newell take you through a US Ski Team speed and power development workout, at the 2006 US Ski Team Training Camp Lake Placid, NY.

There are three steps in the video, numbered as Steps 1, 2, and 4. (Don't ask me where Step 3 is...). It fascinating to watch the differences between the three steps:

  • Step 1 Nice and Easy - Get the technique down and try for smooth rollerskiing.
  • Step 2 Off-Ski Explosive Power - Notice how they get a little hop in each skate motion.
  • Step 4 Full Speed Ahead - Put it all together and go as fast as possible. Notice that the movements all have a quick snap, but they are the full range of motion, not cut off short.

The final section of the video includes some slow-motion footage.

These are short intervals (15 seconds) designed to work on speed of muscle movement, not endurance or VO2 max or lactate removal. Sometimes there is a rolling start before the interval begins, sometimes the interval begins with a standing start. Both have their place in ski racing: the former is useful for passing someone in a race, the latter for starts, particularly interval starts.

I've done speed work with 10-15 seconds on, 15 seconds off, repeated for up to 10 times. Then there may be a longer rest (two or three minutes) and another sets. I've also done speed work in 20-30 second burst with rests twice as long as the interval.

The hopping or skipping on rollerskis is a great exercise to learn how to generate power by crunching down on your ski.

Remember, you're not trying to get in a "hard" workout - your trying to teach your muscle to fire more quickly. Add snap to your movements, but use complete motions.