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Old 03-03-2013, 09:46 PM   #1
Member cliffrosson is offline
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Getting killed on the mountain. I have no endurance

It all came to a head the other day. I was in the backcountry with some strong ski buddies drawing lines over untouched powder. My friends, being the good guys they are, were totally patient with my lack of ability.... At one point one of the guys actually said, "You are a strong skier, when you get your fitness figured out this won't be an issue for you". I tanked. My legs were cramped and locking up. I don't know if this was due to lack of muscle/strength or a sign of a larger endurance issue.

I've been crossfiting very consistently 4 times a week for 2.5 years. FWIW I can do Diane in sub 5 minutes and I have a solid 5 minute Fran time(Hate that one). It feels like I have zero endurance.

Backcountry skiing is all traversing, mountaineering and climbing. Do the good folks here have any recommendations on how I can improve my endurance on the mountain? Its an odd feeling to be the slowest one in the bunch. Very humbling.

I've tried adding more cardiovascular, longer duration moderate paced, exercises to my weekly workouts though part of me feels like this is muscular fatigue issue specific to skiing. Perhaps there are movements I can do that could help me out?

Any strong skiers out there willing to share any advice? I want to have a strong head start on next years season.

Some of this could be ski technique as well and that is a legitimate answer. Still, I thought I'd give a shout out here and see what folk had to say.
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Old 03-03-2013, 10:07 PM   #2
Eric Shuty
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Re: Getting killed on the mountain. I have no endurance

Howdy, man with or prince. Anyways, I have no experience with skiing but I have a lot of experience with extreme atheletic endeavors. My guess is that you lack strength....namely because you didn't mention any strength numbers in your post. When I used to do long ruck marches and buddy carry events I always found that I could easily outpace my comrades because I had moderate endurance and far superior strength. Why? Because to me the load seemed so much lighter.

That's my guess, but more info on your programming would help. Or maybe more ski-saavy folk have a better idea...
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Old 03-03-2013, 11:21 PM   #3
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Re: Getting killed on the mountain. I have no endurance

That could be. The last 3 months I did spend a bit more time focusing on strength specifically. I did Outlaw's programming for November and frequently in December as well. Still my numbers are not particularly spectacular.

I weigh 160#. What do you think is adequate? I can comfortably front squat 255# on the front squat and ~300 on the back.

Those aren't amazing numbers but I doubt the guys I ski with can do that(Maybe they would surprise me).

As far as crossfit is concerned my strengths have always been body weight things.
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Old 03-04-2013, 01:43 AM   #4
Jonathan Renner
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Re: Getting killed on the mountain. I have no endurance

Exercise is very muscle specific. You mention that your buddies are strong skiers. That's true probably because, I'm assuming they ski more often than you do.

For example, I'm stronger, more athletic, and have better cardio than my friend who does Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu regularly. I "rolled" with him one day and I fatigued in about two minutes and he submitted me.

All the Crossfitting in the world won't necessarily make you a better skier...or wrestler, or swimmer, etc etc.
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Old 03-04-2013, 01:55 AM   #5
Chris Jones
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Re: Getting killed on the mountain. I have no endurance

as a lighter guy bw exercises will be your wheelhouse for sure. Those sounds like pretty good numbers to me for your size, how often do you train heavy? Id recommend 3 times a week or so with limited metcons to gain a little strength. But i know nothing about skiing, however rock climbing demands a pretty strong upper body and some legs as well so it should be relative i would think.
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Old 03-04-2013, 07:16 AM   #6
Shawn M Wilson
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Re: Getting killed on the mountain. I have no endurance

Skiing like that requires specific training

Get into that back country and you better have a tank and some serious leg endurance

Being strong will help but your buddies showed you how their specific training for what you did out beat your non specific

I'm decently strong but suck at cardio (and I mean suck). So if its straight lifting, yay I win, but if its longer than 1 minute I lose...

You'll need to find ways to train your tank and legs for that type of skiing as doing metcons won't do much to help past a general fitness point. Imagine being in the ski position for long times. Wall holds in squat position? I'd google advice to help prepare for it and see what kind of conditioning they list.

Last time I went skiing I was squatting 450+ but day 1 I was locking up and wore out after 3 long runs... Why? Fatigue in muscles... Back sore, quads ready to explode, calves on fire, etc....

Body wasn't prepared for the muscle endurance side
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Last edited by Shawn M Wilson : 03-04-2013 at 07:21 AM.
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Old 03-04-2013, 08:16 AM   #7
Brendan McNamar
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Re: Getting killed on the mountain. I have no endurance

Altitude could play a roll as well.

When I skied a lot when I was younger I was in very good shape but still struggled with altitude changes.

Like you I live at sea level then would jump in a car or plane and be at 8,000+ feet in no time. Once I have been at altitude for a couple of day I adjust and was fine.

Food and water would be another thought. Have to eat more and need to stay well hydrated as well in the mountains.

Being 160 is going to make it tough in heavy snow conditions. Size helps when the snow gets heavy and deep.

I know this doesn't tell you what to do but if you are following well rounded CrossFit programing 4 days a week you should be in generally good condition. Skiing shouldn't wipe you out.

On second thought sled pushes and sled drags should do the trick. I expect if you could push/pull a prowler 400m with 90 or 140 pounds on it you wouldn't have any leg issues skiing. Have fun trying to build up to that level.
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Old 03-04-2013, 10:34 AM   #8
Tim Hampton
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Re: Getting killed on the mountain. I have no endurance

Altitude/Dehydration are definitely factors if your normal days are spent near sea level, but these shouldn't give you too much trouble if you're in shape & prepared for it.

For skiing, I focus on repetitive movements that keep your legs burning (like you experience skiing). Air squats (or high-rep light squats), box jumps, lateral box jumps, hill sprints, etc.

Lateral box jumps especially simulate a skiing motion, which will help get all the secondary muscles around your knees in better condition to handle that kind of beating if your body isn't used to it.
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Old 03-04-2013, 12:27 PM   #9
Pearse Shields
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Re: Getting killed on the mountain. I have no endurance

I know it's contrary to a lot of what gets said here, but if you're doing an endurance activity, then add in some LISS training. Strength is all well and good, but with skiing you need good endurance too. A few longer runs won't do you any harm, and will increase the oxidative capacity of muscle fibers in the legs, which will definitely aid your endurance, as well as the usual cardiovascular benefits.
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Old 03-04-2013, 12:52 PM   #10
Todd R Miller
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Re: Getting killed on the mountain. I have no endurance

As several have pointed out, what you did was very specific. Even modern backcountry ski equipment is still fairly heavy and requires getting use to. When was the last time you lifted weight with your feet in a Crossfit workout, the way you lift boots and skiis in the backcountry? With a pack? In soft snow? At altitude?

You'll have to trust that Crossfit has given you a solid base. Now you need to spend more time on skis in the backcountry. Even lift served skiing won't prepare you for skinning uphill in the backcountry. If you can't get out on skis, hikes/rucks with ankle weights and a pack might be a good substitution.
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