Bike fitness decline while XC skiing

I’m in a (corona related) situation that makes me have access only to XC skis (skate & classic) for a couple of weeks. I do the same volume skiing as I usually do on the bike (12-15 hours / week).

I’m thinking about how much bike specific fitness I’ll lose after 1 week, 2 weeks, 1 month and 3 months while XC skiing the same volume. About 50/50 skate/classic.

Skating utilize much of the same muscle groups as biking, although the cadence is obviously much lower :slight_smile:

Any thoughts / experience with replacing biking with something else for a few weeks? I’m in Base.

I asked the podcast pretty much this very question yesterday. Hopefully they pick it up.

In my experience my ramp test FTP goes down a bit, but my endurance at the FTP is crazy. 30min Sweetspot is no big deal. Specifically my question was how fast AT adapts to those kinds of variables. I don’t imagine it would be all that useful doing 1.0 - 2.0 Sweetspot and Threshold workouts in that case. Give me 5.0-7.0 workouts for a couple weeks until my bike fitness bounces back and then I’ll retest and get my nice FTP bump.

EDIT: This is usually after a 3 month XC ski season where I end up only doing 3-4hr on the bike per week, usually all active recovery or endurance.

n=1 but I just did this over christmas / New Years because it was too much of hassle to bring my bike & rollers (and xc skiing is way more fun than riding on rollers in a 10-20F garage).

Overall time spent skiing is fairly comparable to how long I would’ve been biking albeit less structured.

I tested a day after getting back and my FTP went up a bit (~9W). Admittedly a lot of confounding factors but at least I didn’t seem to lose anything.

This is very interesting for me as well - how to create a proper plan with a mix of xc skiing / running / little indoor bike riding. I know people who only ski during the winter and they are strong on the bike.

However for me it’s little confusing how to mix things up and what should I do e.g. in March/April after mixing these disciplines since December to early March.

Anyway - xc skiing is an amazing sport and everyone who can enjoy it during a winter is lucky and even if it won’t impact my cycling in a positive way - I will still do that as much as I can during the weekend because it’s awesome! :slight_smile:


I don’t think it will matter at all for your bike fitness in the spring. The best young racer I raced against didn’t touch the bike in the winter and played a full season of hockey.

XC skiing is an incredibly aerobic sport, with those at the top having legendary fitness and the highest VO2 max ever measured in a humans. You may find your fitness goes up depending on the type of terrain during your outing.


Exactly. I don’t skate or classic ski, but I do skin 4 or so days a week up the ski resort with some longer 4-5 hour tours on the weekend. A solid 50-60 mins straight of z2 HR for me with some time in tempo and some vo2 max spikes here and there. We’ll see how it translates in the spring but so far my aerobic engine is feeling good.

I’m going to guess that you’d lose a little on an FTP test, should you do one straight off the back of 3 months skiing, as aerobic fitness (like strength) is actually quite specific. However, the adaptations you’d make from committing to XC skiing will be generally useful and I’d also guess that your bike numbers would be back where they were very quickly indeed.

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I think in general, most fitness, particularly aerobic fitness, is sport/movement-specific. Even if you’re using the same general muscle groups, you aren’t using them and stressing them in the same ways. So if you stop biking for a few weeks, and pick up any other exercise instead, even if you really push hard, you will likely see less bike fitness by the end (assuming you start in a pretty good fitness spot in the first place, and don’t have the low hanging fruit of just generally increasing your aerobic/cardiovascular ability from a sedentary baseline).

I’m an XC Ski coach and former XC ski racer but now I ride bikes when it’s warm and ski when there is snow. I find I lose about 10% of my peak summer bike power but can get it back with a month of riding and usually see my best short power numbers in that first month of riding after the ski season. Definitely N+1 but I think XC skiing keeps the aerobic system firing as much or better than cycling you just lose the specific locomotion so lose power. It should come back quick!


I would agree with this too - XC (skate) skiing for me has been a godsend! It is the ultimate off-season activity for getting your whole body going :slight_smile:

Jealous. This is what I want to be doing. I need to get my splitboard rig ready for next season.