Stian Berg won the Green Sprint bib in Ski Classics for the second time last winter and is a big supporter of regular training on a double poling machine.
Berg is now in his fourth Ski Classics season, after he switched from traditional cross-country to long-distance skiing, and is aiming for the Yellow Champion bib in the long run. The goal for the winter is primarily to take some good podium places and be regular among the top ten.
“This year, I will have more focus on final results, although it may be a bit early to believe that I will win overall this winter. But if you first join and fight for the podium regularly, then you sign up for the fight for the yellow jersey,” says Berg.
Gold Worth In The Run-Up To The Season
In any case, the foundations for winter must be laid in the base season, and in that context, a double poling machine is worth its weight in gold, especially throughout the autumn and towards the start of the season.
“This is the third season I have used the Ercolina systematically, and it is an essential training tool for me. A lot of the training for long races is very similar to what I did when I was racing classic on World Cup distances, but there is a lot more double poling now than I had ever done before. Then it is beneficial with the double poling machine to get enough of it, no matter what the conditions are like,” says Berg.
Stian uses the equipment primarily for intervals, quality sessions, and testing since the double poling machine makes it very easy to control load and intensity.
“With the double poling machine, the sessions become very measurable. In addition, it is straightforward to program the Ercolina machine so that you get exactly the training benefit you are looking for with the session,” says Berg, and continues:
“On the double poling equipment, you have full control over watts and resistance, and then you can compare it with heart rate and lactate without any external factors confusing the data. This makes it easy to control the intensity and easy to measure progress.”
At the same time, Berg points out that he believes that the equipment is just as useful for recreational skiers as for long-distance professionals.
“It is extremely useful for us who train full-time. But I think recreational skiers can benefit from one at least as much, if not more. They often struggle with time, and with a double poling machine, they can always get an efficient and good session without much preparation or equipment,” he says.
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These Are Berg’s Best Double Poling Sessions
Berg has selected the sessions regarding the specific training benefit, relevance, and transfer value to the demands that long-distance skiing places on the athletes.
Berg trains various types of intervals on the equipment throughout the pre-season, with shorter and longer duration and different efforts. However, the intensity of the sessions overall varies depending on where he is in the season, with progressively harder sessions as the season approaches.
When Berg trains longer intervals, there are ones of eight minutes and up to 25 minutes with a constant effort at just below the threshold, or intensity zone three (i3), and the rest time is from one to two minutes between intervals.
“The main point of rest in this type of session with such a low and even intensity is to get the chance to hydrate and take some nutrition,” he explains.
From time to time, Berg also trains in extra-long sessions on the double poling machine. Then he is continuously at threshold intensity, i.e., just below competition speed, for up to an hour.
“These types of intervals are important for building capacity in general, but also muscular endurance,” says Berg.
One of Berg’s favorite sessions is the 30/15, 45/15, or 40/20, where you train hard for 30, 45, or 40 seconds respectively, followed by 15 or 20 seconds of rest and continue the series for the desired number of minutes for the training. The series lasts between five and ten minutes each and are usually run at intensity zone four or five.
“It is only the imagination that sets the limits, but for me, it can often be 3×10 minutes, 5×5 minutes, 6×6 minutes, or 6×8 minutes with a combination of such short mini-intervals inside. Sometimes I also run so-called crisscross sessions where I alternate lying above and below the threshold inside the interval,” Berg says.
How relevant is running such short intervals when competing in long-distance skiing?
“Research shows that with short intervals of the 45/15 or 30/15 type, you get more time at high intensity and at high speed than by long intervals. It also means that you develop sprinting skills and technique at high speed by running such intervals, and it becomes very competitive,” says Berg, and continues:
“There is a lot of action in long-distance skiing, which requires a lot of speed resources. It is also useful to have good sprinting skills to take the positions you want when required, such as securing points in intermediate sprints.”
Long Distance With Maximum Speed
The third key session for Berg is long distance with maximum speed. It is mainly run as a long leisurely session, but with occasional elements of maximum speed of up to 30 seconds.
“Since there is a lot of action during long races, entering such max moves is very relevant and simulates such sprints that can happen at any time during the race. The ability to follow the field when there is a move or to be able to move away to gain a gap or points, for example, during intermediate sprints, is incredibly important to assert oneself in long races,” says Berg.
Berg adds that the max speeds are also helpful for keeping the pressure up in races, especially toward the end of the competition.
“It’s easy to get a little lazy in a long race. But it is important to be able to accelerate and be a bit explosive, even if you have been at the same intensity for a long time,” explains Berg.