What is it?
- a simple set of dryland measures for assessing cross-country ski athletes’ fitness;
- a set of easy goals that athletes can work to improve upon;
- a tool for soliciting interest and recruiting new athletes to our sport.
Why do it?
1. It is quick: A simple series of measures that can be performed almost anywhere and in a very short time span. If using them as a measure for improvement, there is not a high effort demand or much fatigue that will impinge upon the regular training plan and can be performed at regular intervals during the training season. Due to the simple non-sport-specific nature of these exercises, they are also accessible to any athlete, regardless of the sport they may be currently enrolled in.
2. It provides simple targets for improvement: Simple exercises and simple measures offer clear targets for improving upon. All athletes strive for improvement in performance and having reference points upon which to focus offers huge motivational benefits. For athletes who already have a full set of comparative measures, these three are often already a part of the repertoire; if not, they are a simple and fun addition.
3. It provides a national database for comparison: Spread across over a breadth of five thousand plus kilometers, we can be challenged to understand how fitness standards may vary from one end of the country to the other or even between divisions. A series of measures that span the nation and athletes can be a powerful tool to building and reinforcing the ski community.
How might we use it?
Clubs: The application of these exercises within the ski club is already a given, however during the dryland season, we might consider holding invitational events with other sport clubs (athletics, triathlon, etc.) as an opportunity to try out roller skiing and become familiar with the aptitudes congruent with cross-country skiing. There are more than a few successful athletes who have made the switch from another sport to skis.
Camps: The simplicity of the exercises permits them to be slotted in almost anywhere and can easily be integrated alongside current tests and measures that often occur. One of the benefits of the RJP test is that it is not reliant on a specific hill, trail or other setting.
Schools: Working with teachers to promote cross-country skiing and soliciting an interest among students who may or may not have participated in a ski at school program.
Events: Let the imagination run in pursuit of creative and engaging ways to use the test for recruiting and motivating athletes (and please let us know at Nordiq Canada so we can share the success stories and best practices.)
Why these tests?
1000m run: While the 3000m may be more indicative of fitness related to cross-country skiing, the 1000m run is a distance much more accessible to the younger and/or less experienced athlete while still being very specific to demands in xc skiing. The goal is to motivate and derive some meaningful results. For the less engaged, running 3km demands a high level of commitment and the concern is that for many it may be a bit demanding as a starting point. The correlation between cross-country skiing and running is well documented. Establishing motivating and accessible challenges can help integrate the latter into the dryland season.
3000m run: The 3000m run will not be an officially promoted benchmark in the RJP test for the reasons stated above. However, with the ubiquity of the 3000m test in many clubs, we also encourage coaches who perform this test to submit results for compilation on the national scale.
Jump: Leg strength and power generation are two foundational elements to our sport. The jump test helps athletes focus on the speed of contraction and components such as synchronization and posture. The value in the simplicity of this challenge is not to be overlooked; athletes can easily be challenged to work on improving performance through self-analysis and repeated trial highlighting the importance of analyzing one’s own performance and required adaptations. This specific exercise, standing still and feet together, also helps athletes feel the importance of forward hips and pre-loading in generating forward momentum.
Pull: Pull-ups are one of the most popular exercises for developing upper body strength and endurance, a fundamental element for all cross-country skiers. While perhaps not ultra specific to the double poling movement, this test offers sufficient correlation with the upper body strength and stability needed in cross country skiing to be pertinent. It's simplicity also allows an athlete to do them almost anywhere and who doesn't draw a great deal of satisfaction from cranking out multiple pull-ups one after the other!