INSCYD x German Ski Association: metabolic analysis in XC skiing

Just because INSCYD is well accepted in cycling – with partners like Team Jumbo Visma, Movistar and Alpecin-Fenix – doesn’t mean INSCYD is limited to cycling. In fact, the first INSCYD license purchased ever was in swimming – via the French Institute of Sports INSEP. If you are a coach, test lab or federation, who wants to test athletes to better understand their capabilities and create better training programs, we are happy to help you! Regardless of the sport you are working in.

In a previous blog we illustrated how we can adapt to running sports by developing and validating new technologies for runners. This time we like to share with you how we work together with the German Ski Association.

INSCYD collaborates with the German Ski Association

The German Ski Association has been an official partner of INSCYD for a while now. Until now they used the INSCYD lactate tests mainly in a special uphill running protocol (10% incline). Recently we started a project together, using the knowledge and software of INSCYD for their national team in cross country skiing.

[hfe_template id='3145']

Energy demand in cross country skiing

In this project we’ve been performing over 300 tests on a motorized treadmill, on which the athletes can do roller skiing. In those tests, we are the first to look at the effect of speed, treadmill slope (incline and decline) and skiing technique (e.g. diagonal stride, kick double pole, etc.), on the energy demand of the athlete. This includes measuring oxygen uptake, lactate accumulation and body composition among others.

The treadmill slope can easily be adjusted, both with an incline and decline.

To our knowledge there is no study nor data in the available literature, that looks at the relationship between those three parameters (speed, slope, technique) and energy demand in skiing. Especially when it comes to the precise energy demand: this includes energy derived from aerobic and anaerobic sources. The latter becoming more important when the intensity is high. Therefore: to understand the energy demand for race decisive efforts it is necessary to understand energy contribution from aerobic and anaerobic sources – and this is where INSCYD comes into play. You probably recognize our approach when you’ve read about our running study, in which we performed similar tests.

How cross country skiers can benefit from using INSCYD

As a coach you are interested in science and data, but probably even more in how to use information in practice. Let’s look at 2 examples of how XC ski coaches can use the information of the above described project with the German Ski Association.

Should my athlete focus on technique or endurance

With the outcome of over 300 tests, we now know better than ever the energy demand of skiing. This enabled us to determine the average energy demand for a skier based on body composition, speed, incline, technique (e.g. diagonal stride, kick double pole, etc.) and specialty (“sprinter”, “long distance skier”, “biathlon skier”, “XC skier” etc.). With this information, it is possible to compare an individual skier to the average population, in order to find out how energy efficient he/she is. As a result, you can easily find out which athlete needs less energy for a given effort, and who needs more energy than their peers.

 

Thereafter, the coach can analyze the technique of the individual in order to find out the reasons for this deviation. By doing so, analyzing the energy cost for a given effort shows an untapped potential for improving overall performance. It enables coaches and athletes to train specific aspects that turn the available energy of an athlete – determined by aerobic and anaerobic capacity – into race winning speed.

Let's turn the available energy of an athlete – determined by aerobic and anaerobic capacity – into race winning speed!

In practice, this answers the question whether an athlete should focus more on technique or endurance/physiology. Does your skier use (much) more energy than the average comparable skier does under the same circumstances? Focus the training program a bit more on finetuning the technique and therefore increasing the economy!

 

Does the test show that your skier already has a good technique and therefore economy? Consider focusing a bit more on the physiology like endurance training!

Which ski technique should my athlete use at a 6 degree incline?

Like in swimming – where you have different techniques like breaststroke, backstroke, butterfly – skiing also has different techniques to move forward. But which technique (e.g. diagonal stride, kick double pole, etc.) should your cross country skier use under which circumstances?

 

We looked at this question by using 2 motorized treadmills, located in the national training center of the German national team in Oberhof. The test data enabled us to identify which technique is most efficient as a function of speed and incline. By using this data, we take the guessing out of the equation and collect proof for the benefit from a certain technique in a certain situation.

Which ski technique is most efficient? Let's take the guessing out of the equation and use data!

What is the aerobic and anaerobic contribution in XC skiing

The project with the German Ski Association is ongoing. One of the things we will be looking at in the nearby future is the specific energy contribution (aerobic and anaerobic) on a certain cross country ski trail. This will surely provide us more practical information that will enable skiers and their coaches to optimize training plans. For instance by focusing more on increasing the VO2max or instead focusing more on increasing or decreasing VLamax (click for a free whitepaper about VLamax).

Invitation to coaches, test labs and federations of all kind of sports

We are honored to see we already partnered with coaches and federations in the field of cycling, running, swimming, skiing, canoeing, kayaking, ice skating and many more. Now we would like to reach out to you as well! In which sport are you working in? Which energy demand problem are you trying to solve? Let’s get in contact and inspire each other to better map the capabilities of our athletes and improve their training program!

Or..