With proper form, both skate skiing and classic cross-country skiing are great exercises for the glutes, says Braden. Skate skiing also strengthens the hip muscles, especially the external rotators of your hip, which are generally underutilized in running. This is why it’s such good cross-training.
“I love when my runners skate ski because their glutes are on board,” she says.
The biggest form mistakes people make involve the knees: either dropping them in toward one another or letting them fall too far in the opposite direction. Your knees should be pointing forward and be in alignment with your ankles, Braden explains.
You’ll also use your upper body, including your triceps and abdominals for stabilization during the pulling motion with poles.
Cross-country skiing in Washington
Lucky for us who live in the Seattle area, you don’t have to go far from home to enjoy a day or weekend of cross-country skiing. And depending on conditions, you can often plan on getting out on the trails well into April. From the popular Nordic Center at Stevens Pass to the massive and well-loved Methow Trails in Methow Valley, there are tons of options for exploring new places and trails within a few hours of home.
Most ski areas have equipment for rent, or you can head to a local ski shop for rentals or to purchase your own gear, suggests Braden.
Check out the Washington Trails Association’s Guide to Cross-Country Skiing for a list of the best places to cross-country ski in the state and the passes you’ll need to enjoy them. Then, make like Team USA and hit the trails.