Is one hour of Xc skiing the same training load as 1 hour of cycling if done at same intensity?

Hi all! I apologize if this is an oversimplified question. Is one of hour of Nordic skiing wort one hour of cycling? I training for a Croatan in March and live in NH and it’s currently 15-20 degrees average with snow and ice on the road I prefer Xc skiing during the winter as I find it very fun and was trying to add in long ski days to try and replicate the LSD. Thoughts? @trevor

Great question! While I do not have any research to link you to I have used nordic skiing with several of my athletes in similar climate, one of whcih is up in Canada and does nordic ski workouts in lieu of rides this time of year. I have used a polarized approach based on HR for these ski workouts keeping HR below 80% max HR for the easy days and then use 90%+ max HR for hard days or interval days and the cross over to the bike has been great! Both sports being so aerobic in nature it is my opinion the training goes hand in hand and when you dig into the science and history of poliarized training its roots are deep in nordic skiing. Hope this helps and happy training!!


@Fpike as always an excellent response.

I couldn’t agree more with adding nordic as much as possible.

Depending on your abilities technique may limit some high end work, but it is worthwhile to become the best skier you can, then you can take even more advantage of this during the off season.

I think you will have great gains if you can include a lot of skiing.

Just try and make sure you include some good coordination training on the bike.

Deciding on whether it is the same intensity is likely based on your technique.

Do you happen to use a garmin device that gives you training effect by chance?

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Thank you for the thoughtful responses @steveneal and @Fpike. Yes I do have a garmin and do try to polarize my skiing I.e keep it under 80% hr peak. I guess what I’m taking away is don’t overthink the modality and just ski, ride and rest and trust the process.

Yes! If you have a garmin you could track your aerobic and anaerobic training effect, look back at some rides of similar duration where you were for sure in the zone you wanted on the bike.

Then ski by feeling to accomplish the same goal, and check the training effect after that session.

For those that I coach that are close to the ski trails, in the beginnign of the season I have the ski first, as long as they can without losing performance, go straight home and finish their volume on the bike.

Each time on the skis, they go a little longer and in a very short time they can ski for all of the volume.


Thanks @steveneal! Your commentary is always equally as good and in many cases adds deeper info and additions. You da man!

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@nateduquette you are spot on! Too many times we overthink and over complicate training. At then end of the day training is about sending a signal to the body and consistency will get you a lot further and more fitness vs perfection. Consistency is king as they say. Keep it focused, simple and consistent. Training is mundane at times and doesn’t need to be fancy or “busy” to induce the stress and strain of the training load in order to get adaptation down the road! Have fun!!


Thanks @steveneal & @Fpike for the time and recommendations much appreciated!

@nateduquette1 went out skiing today and was thinking of this post a little while sliding along.

Keep in mind, that I just exercise now. Not sure many people on the forum know but I got Lyme disease a little over 5 years ago, and although I am getting better, not even close to my old self. But getting outside and moving around over the last year has certainly been nice!

Below are a few examples, not exact workouts but just some thoughts.

Bike session, indoors, done immediatly after a downhill ski.

Training load from this session intervals icu = 44

Below is my ski today.

Intervals ICU load = 58

The way I ski is a version of run/walk marathon training.

I can’t ski constantly without going above 145 heart rate, especially climbing (we have some 20-30m climbs at the nordic centre where I live).

So what I do is ski by feeling, until I can notice my breathing is a little labored, then I check my watch and if near 145, I stop, either for 90 seconds, or until heart rate hits 110.

This allows me to have a good ski, without having to go to threshold just to move, I recover pretty quickly. The more I ski, the longer the pieces before I go over 145, the quicker I recover 110.

@nateduquette1 your welcome. Always happy to help. Have an epic 2023 season!

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HI @nateduquette saw you tagged me. Sorry to take so long to reply. Was going to share my thoughts but frankly, you already got some fantastic answers. And a couple from my fellow Canadian Steve! I can’t add anything to that…

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