• Pole-push power can solve lots of technique puzzles. 

Serious racers work lots on poling in the off-season, and can go amazingly fast, even go up hills just using their poles. Poling gets past the grip versus glide compromise of classic leg-push.

  • Smart tricks add lots of power to the pole-push.

Effective poling is not just about hours of training or having strong arms. There's a surprising number of opportunities for smart tricks. List of frequently missed tricks -- see below. (see also Double Pole motion technique)

  • If you do not train your poling 

If you (understandably) do not train your poling, it's worth knowing that sometimes the reason some technique looks "effortless" for somebody else is because that somebody has two other big reservoirs of "effort" to draw upon: their well-trained arm muscles and their well-trained abdominal muscles. 

The biggest difference between serious racers and competent Classic striders is that the racers seriously train for poling over the summer. 

My story

As I was preparing over the summer for my first year of serious racing, I had heard that Classic striding technique was very tricky, and that summer training did not transfer well to on the snow. 

So I figured the one thing that was sure to transfer well was poling power.  I did lots of double-poling and single "diagonal" polling workouts on rollerskis.  I did weight training for my triceps and abdominal muscles. 

When I got onto snow in December, I found that my poling was strong on its own and worked great on the groomed snow.  And I found that using my poles helped me get through marginal grip conditions in my classic striding -- indeed some of those days I thought my legs weren't really doing their share. 

When I got to my big 50-kilometer classic-technique marathon races, I found that most of those had lots of flat and gentle sections where I was not doing Classic striding at all -- because poling was faster and more effective.  And I passed lots of other racers that way.  If I had to point to one "secret" that gave me the most advantage in classic-technique races, it was pole-push power. 

But apart from racing, I found that double-poling and kick-double-pole are just fun motions to learn and do. 

Tricks often Missed

The first trick is to drop the weight of your upper body onto the poles at the start of the push. Beginners think that poling is all about the arms, but actually there's lots of other muscles and body parts that can help. The simplest is use the weight of the chest and shoulders and head to help push by dropping them down onto poles.

But using body weight is not a "free lunch". You always have to raise the weight of the chest and shoulders and head back up again, and that's take real muscular work, especially by the back muscles.

Some other tricks that lots of athletic skiers miss:

  • crunch sharply down in the chest at the start of the push (instead of hinging at the waist) -- to drive the shoulders to help push the poles back. The more forward the shoulders start, the more this helps.

  • bend arms strongly with elbows "winged" out to the side, so then they're in position to use the "internal shoulder rotator" muscles to help push the poles directly backward.

  • transmit to the skis fully the extra force of chest-crunch and body-weight, by keeping the arms rigid and actively pushing during the first phase of the push. Do not allow the arms to collapse and absorb the force instead of transmitting it.

  • double-poling: use forward-foot-thrush to finish the double-pole push with reactive force benefit.

For lots more on poling techniques, see

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