Any die-hard cross country skier knows how crucial it is to embrace dryland training for a successful Nordic skiing season. Of course, the Holy Grail of Nordic skiing remains the American Birkebeiner race in Cable, Wisconsin to Hayward, Wisconsin.

If you’ve already obtained your race number (or love to ski the trails), ensure a strong finish with the help of Heartwood Resort. 

Our extensive trail system can help you improve your stamina and strength as the race nears. Our cozy and luxurious accommodations can also help you revel in the region’s historic Nordic skiing roots.

Heartwood Resort and Conference Center is ideally situated in Wisconsin’s Northwoods, making it a dream destination for cross-country skiers.  Visit our website today to plan your training weekends in style.

Nordic skiing dryland training basics

Cross-country skiing is a demanding sport, even as a casual participant. 

There is almost no better cardiovascular training option than Nordic skiing because your upper and lower body must work equally hard while gliding down the trails.

If you want to avoid the steep stamina ramp-up when the snow flies, there are a few drills you can practice on dry land. Try the following as the autumn proceeds:

man with nordic walking sticks

  • Hike some hills: If you have hilly streets or wooded trails near your home, get out and walk them! Hiking up a steep climb improves your oxygen consumption, stroke volume, and lower your resting heart rate over time. Hill climbing is also an excellent way to strengthen your leg and gluteal (rear end!) muscles. Your legs and glutes drive your Nordic glide and help you manage the inclines of the ski trails. Bonus: the autumn leaves and cooling temps create an epic colorful nature experience while doing something healthy for your body. Hint: the trails at Heartwood resort provide a brilliant fall backdrop for hiking that will prep you well for sliding and gliding on your skis.


  • Grab some Nordic Walking poles: To help your upper body stay in top shape off-season, walk with poles. You can pick these up at an outdoor store near you. Instead of metal picks at poles’ end, they feature a rubber pad to grip the ground. You’ll preserve and build the strength in your triceps and shoulders as you pole into the pavement or dirt with each step. It’s paramount for the best results to get the correct pole length, so ask an associate for assistance before you purchase. The poles should come up to just above your armpits when standing on a flat surface.


  • Go for a run: Building stamina and endurance are vital components to Nordic skiing enjoyment. If your joints (and your doctor) give you the green light, try blending some jogging segments into your trail hikes or road walks. Steadily increase your running interval length as your body tolerates. You’ll build lower body strength and power if you pick up your hiking or walking pace for even a few seconds at a time.


  • Train for classic or skate specificity: Will you be skiing groomed trails with classic-style skis, or using skate skis this winter? Each style of Nordic skiing uses different muscles and requires a unique combination of balance and coordination. While all of the suggested pre-season training tips help you build up your heart and lungs for Nordic skiing, you can further refine your approach. Walking, hiking, and running all mimic the forward glide of classic-style Nordic skiing. Activities like rollerblading and cross-training can help you get a more robust, angled “push-off” for skate-skiing. Adding dry land drills like side jumps, side-stepping squats, and triceps push-ups (with your arms directly beneath your shoulders and your elbows hugging your body) will help you make a strong seasonal transition to skate skiing.


  • Befriend balance again (or for the first time). Oh, those wobbly downhill trail stretches, right? It only takes one good wipeout on skinny skis with poles flailing to know that balance is a crucial component of cross-country skiing. Practicing balance will shorten the seasonal learning curve that comes with new snow on the trails. Simply balancing on one foot and counting the seconds is a fantastic way to begin. Adding to your “wobble” by standing one-footed on a thick carpet will help you increase your balance game. Try standing with both feet wide apart, and then shifting your weight to one leg while lifting the other foot for an even greater challenge. The more you can incorporate dynamic balance (balancing while moving versus standing still), the better you’ll transition to your cross-country skis when the time comes.

couple running and training for ski race

How often should I train for the best results?

Optimally, it would help if you planned to train an hour a day, 4 to 5 days per week. But, every training session counts to make you a stronger and more adept skier. 

Even if you can log a couple of dryland 30-minute training sessions per week, you’ll be farther along than if you sat on the couch watching the leaves fall. If you’re new to Nordic skiing, cut yourself a lot of slack as you dryland train.

Logging 2 sessions per week consistently will build a solid pre-season foundation and may fit more easily into your schedule and psyche. (It can feel intimidating to try achieving unrealistic expectations.) Plus, if you’re not in good shape already, a too-ambitious training plan could result in an injury before you ever hit the snowy trails.

Heartwood Resort: the best and most beautiful dryland training

At Heartwood Resort and Conference Center, we cater to the Nordic Skiing enthusiast all year long. With miles of groomed and open trails, you can glide, skate, hike, run, walk, and cross-train as much as you like. 

Plus, with the pristine natural backdrop of Trego, WI, you’ll enjoy epic season views along with food and lodging that are anything but rustic. We offer a wide variety of outdoor activities right on our property, with your comfort and pleasure in mind. 

Visit our website for a detailed trail map, as well as reservation information and cabin availability. We look forward to setting the foundation for a Nordic adventure you’ll never forget.