Contribution of the Legs to Double-Poling Performance in Elite Cross-Country Skiers


Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise: October 2006 - Volume 38 - Issue 10 - pp 1853-1860
doi: 10.1249/01.mss.0000230121.83641.d1
APPLIED SCIENCES: Physical Fitness and Performance

Purpose: In the classical style of cross-country skiing, the double-poling (DP) technique, which is regarded as an upper-body exercise, is used on the flatter parts of a course. Limited biomechanical and physiological data are available about DP compared with other cross-country skiing techniques. The purpose of the present study was to evaluate the possible role of the lower body during DP.

Methods: Eleven elite cross-country skiers performed two incremental tests using DP roller skiing at 1° inclination on a treadmill with or without locking the knee and ankle joints (DPLOCKED and DPFREE). Maximal and peak oxygen uptake (V˙O2max and V˙O2peak) during classic diagonal skiing and DP, respectively, were measured. In addition, heart rate, blood lactate concentration, and maximal DP velocity (V˙max) were determined. Pole-ground reaction forces and joint angles (elbow, hip, knee, and ankle) were analyzed.

Results: The skiers obtained 7.7% higher V˙O2peak, 9.4% higher V˙max, and 11.7% longer time to exhaustion during DPFREE compared with DPLOCKED (all P < 0.05). There was a higher heart rate and blood lactate concentration in DPLOCKED at submaximal stages (all P < 0.05), with no difference in oxygen consumption. At 85% V˙max, corresponding to approximately 81% V˙O2peak FREE, the differences in physiological variables were accompanied by a 13.6% higher poling frequency, a 4.9% shorter poling phase, 13.3% shorter recovery phase, and 10.9% lower relative pole force in DPLOCKED (all P < 0.05).

Conclusions: Movements of the knee and ankle joints are an integrative part in the skillful use of the DP technique, and restriction of the motion in these joints markedly affects both biomechanical and physiological variables, impairing DP performance.

1Department of Physiology and Pharmacology, Karolinska Institute, Stockholm, SWEDEN; 2Department of Sport Science and Kinesiology, University of Salzburg, AUSTRIA; 3Christian Doppler Laboratory, AUSTRIA; 4Department of Natural Sciences, Mid University, Östersund, SWEDEN; and 5National Winter Sport Centre, Östersund, SWEDEN

Address for correspondence: H.-C. Holmberg, Department of Physiology and Pharmacology, Karolinska Institute, S-114 86 Stockholm, SWEDEN; E-mail:

Submitted for publication February 2006.

Accepted for publication May 2006.

©2006The American College of Sports Medicine