Tuesday, January 1, 2002 - Physiology
Muscle Balance During the Race Season

- By: Jonne Kahkonen

Racing season is the kind of time that you easily get a little carried away with the rush to just race; raced today, racing again tomorrow, when's the next race after that... Ever had that feeling?

The ski season is the most important time for the skier and I'm not talking about the races now. For sure, that's what you're training for, but if there's not suffiecient training before hitting the races, it might not be such a fun at all.

One of the important things to keep in mind during the racing season is the muscle balance. And this is probably the one single thing that I've seen neglected the most. A lot of athletes come to me and ask if they should be doing strength during the ski season at all. And my answer is a definate yes. Now, this does not mean that you hit the gym and check how much weights you can put on the bar! Main part of the strength that I keep on the program is the circuits, rather muscle balance or muscle level work. Mostly this is using your own body weight for different exercises. And the circuits are on the program throughout the season. When I test the athletes strength qualities before and after the racing season, it shows pretty clearly that the circuits are exellent to maintain the strength you've gained during the dryland season.

The other thing to remember to keep on the program is specific strength or as I call it partial body intervals. This means doing double poling or legs only. The fact is that you can only become a skier by skiing, so even though circuits are important, this is what you definitely should be doing. Again, I use these the same way as the circuits; at least once a week throughout the season. The only exception might be the week of the Nationals. And I do mean might be, because athletes are individuals and some of them keep doing this even then.

All in all, to get the best out of your training, make sure that your muscle balance is at a good level. After that it's easy to start building your form on a solid base; you can't build a pyramid not starting from the bottom. And remember: there's no shortcut to succes.

Jonne Kahkonen has the head coach and leader of the National Team Development Centre in Thunder Bay since 1999. He has a degree in Kinesiology from the University of Jyvaskyla in Finland.

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