Pomoca's journey to Patrouille des Glaciers, article 2/6


Like in any sports, strength training is important in ski-mountaineering. It is crucial for performance enhancement but also for injury management. Indeed, it has now been largely demonstrated  that improving your strength will boost your exercise economy. Today’s poster will focus on what muscle groups you will want to work on, when to do these sessions and how to periodize your strength training, along with your endurance training.


Like endurance training, strength training should also be divided into separate blocks. Each block will target a specific aspect of strength training. Typically, the first block should focus on strength-endurance. It involves a lot of repetitions (more than 15 per set), short recovery periods and lighter weights. In addition to building a solid base for what’s coming next, using lighter weights is perfect for learning moves and thus preventing hurting yourself by pushing too hard too early. The second block of strength training will focus on hypertrophy. It will typically consist on 7 to 12 repetitions with increased weight, recovery time and sets. Third block will consist of maximal strength development. The number of repetitions will decrease to about 3 to 5 and the weight, the recovery time and the number of sets will increase again. Finally, we can add a fourth block of strength-reaction. Using no weight, this one will consist of repeated quick impacts on the ground made by variations of running or jumping. One will then have to calculate training load and incorporate it to the planification that we discussed in the first article (November)


It is crucial to specify a fundamental aspect. Attending the fitness center and engaging in endurance sports activities are compatible, even highly recommended. Contrary to expectations, engaging in strength exercises does not guarantee the emergence of a future prominent figure in bodybuilding. In reality, before observing an increase in muscle mass (hypertrophy), you will initially enhance your neuronal connection, leading to an optimization of your muscle performance.




Exercise economy corresponds to the amount of oxygen needed to sustain a given intensity of exercise. For instance, at the same vertical speed, two athletes with the same VO2max might not need the same amount of oxygen. Exercise economy is therefore an important part of performance.


In strength training, volume is the sum of total number of repetitions done during a session multiplied by the lifted resistance (kg).


Like in endurance training, load in strength training can be calculated as the product of volume and intensity. If intensity is the percentage of the maximal weight that you can lift only once (1RM), then the load could be calculated as follow:

LOAD = weight (kg) x nb of reps x %1RM

For strength-reaction, load can be calculated by the numbers of contacts on the ground


Here is one way

  • Adequate warm-up
  • Choose an initial load estimated close to your maximum capacity.
  • Perform a single repetition with the chosen load.
  • If you can perform a complete second rep, adjust the load by increasing and repeat until reaching the maximum load for one repetition.
  • Caution is advised; supervision by a professional may be necessary.



This strength regimen primarily refers to the ability to withstand fatigue during prolonged muscular effort. This training modality is characterized by a high number of repetitions and light loads.


The goal of hypertrophy is to gain muscle mass by increasing cross sectional area. Therefore, recovery is not essential as fatigue is deliberately sought to enhance protein synthesis and the proliferation of muscle cells.

Maximal Strength:

This regimen pertains to the maximum force that a muscle or group of muscles can generate during maximal voluntary contraction. The increase in maximal strength occurs initially through improved intramuscular coordination, involving the significant recruitment of muscle fibers. In this type of training, exercises involve the use of machines (whether multi-joint or single-joint) and substantial loads with few repetitions. Be attentive and ensure caution regarding your posture!

Reactive Strength:

Also known as plyometric strength, this refers to the ability of a muscle or group of muscles to generate a powerful force impulse in a stretch-shortening cycle. This cycle involves the rapid stretching of the muscle (eccentric phase) followed by a quick contraction (concentric phase). In other words, it is the muscles' capacity to decelerate or absorb an initial force before producing an explosive force in the opposite direction (for example: the running cycle). This ability is developed through plyometric exercises such as high box jumps, drop jumps, sprints, etc. To prevent injuries, it is recommended not to train reactive strength without having established a sufficient foundation in the realms of endurance-strength and maximal strength.




When designing your strength training session, you will choose your exercises and place them in a logical order. You want to begin with multi-joint exercises (e.g. a backsquat). They are the one recruiting the biggest muscle mass. They typically involve the use of free weight and need a complexe coordination and nervous activation. You will then place mono-articular exercises (e.g. leg extension). These exercises are great to target specific muscular groups and present the advantage of not requiring great technical skills. It is therefore safer for beginners or at the end of a session, when fatigue kicks in.


If you are in the maximal strength phase, a typical workout might look like a warm-up consisting of cardiovascular activation (treadmill running, cycling, rowing, etc.), a mobility routine, a core training routine, and repeating the exercises included in the following session with no added weight. A typical maximal strength session could look like this:

3 sets of 5-6 reps at 85-95% of 1RM, with a rest period of 3 minutes between sets.

  • Back squat, then Leg press
  • Deadlift, then Leg curl
  • Hipthrust, then Glute press
  • Bent over Row, then Cable rows
  • Bench press, then Chest press machine

If you are not currently in the maximal strength phase, you can keep these exercises while adjusting the number of repetitions and the rest time, referring to the table 1 above.



To learn more about strength training:

Bompa TO, Buzzichelli C. Periodization Training for Sports. Third Edit. Champaign: Human Kinetics; 2015.

Folland, J. P., & Williams, A. G. (2007). Morphological and neurological contributions to increased strength. Sports medicine, 37, 145-168.

Hickson, R. C., Dvorak, B. A., Gorostiaga, E. M., Kurowski, T. T., & Foster, C. (1988). Potential for strength and endurance training to amplify endurance performance. Journal of applied physiology, 65(5), 2285-2290.

Penzer, F., Cabrol, A., Baudry, S., & Duchateau, J. (2016). Comparison of muscle activity and tissue oxygenation during strength training protocols that differ by their organisation, rest interval between sets, and volume. European journal of applied physiology, 116, 1795-1806.

Ratamess, N. A., Alvar, B. A., Evetoch, T. E., Housh, T. J., Ben Kibler, W., Kraemer, W. J., & Triplett, N. T. (2009). Progression models in resistance training for healthy adults. Medicine and science in sports and exercise, 41(3), 687-708.