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Get fit for cross-country skiing

Strong legs, strong arms are a good place to start

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Rotations — Hold the medicine ball out from your body, arms parallel to the floor and twist as far as you can to one side without moving your feet and then back to the other side, pausing in the middle position with the ball out front. "Your body rotates when you reach out with your ski poles, so building those muscles is very important," said Manhard.

Hurdles — Find something that's between your knee and hip in height and walk up to it. Put your hands on your hips to keep your body stable, and step over this object by lifting your leg high and rotating your hip over it sideways. Do 10 to 12 times for each leg, stepping over the object and back. The primary goal of this exercise is to continue to open up your hips. If you have problems with the movement, try using a clock instead of counting out steps; see how many you can do in 15 to 30 seconds.

Stepovers — Place your dowel/broomstick on two chairs or boxes of equal height and face it head on. Lift your leg up and over the dowel while keeping your hands on your hips to ensure you're not tilting your hip while lifting your leg up and over 10 to 12 times. "Most people don't realize how hard this one is," said Manhard. "Most people will probably need to start a little lower and work their way up."

Step 2 — The Workout

There are a lot of exercises that cross-country skiers should do at every opportunity. During his workouts his athletes always do chin-ups and some sort of squatting exercise.

Manhard has condensed the workout into three pairings. Usually sets are also divided so that one exercise works the upper body and the second the lower body. Go from one to the other and back again until you've completed the full number of sets. Then take a three-minute break before the next pairing.

First Pairing

Chin-ups (Not pictured) — If you don't have a chin-up bar or something to chin-up on, a trip to the nearest park or schoolyard will usually suffice. Any chin-up style (palms facing away) will work, and if you have to place a leg or a couple of toes on the ground to assist your arms and shoulders then that's okay — everybody has to start somewhere. Try for eight to 10 reps.

Primary Goal: strengthen shoulders and upper back.

Reps: eight to 12, three sets.

Box Jumps — The box jump is a slightly different take on the exercise as you take off from the ground with your legs together but balance on one foot. Jump for the box and land on the same leg as you started on before hopping back off. "