Cross training equivalent - ski touring vs biking

Hey - would I be right in thinking that I could substitute for e.g. a 4hr endurance training ride with a similar length of another activity (e.g. Ski Touring) - assuming I look to keep to the recommended HR zones (2) etc.

On top of that - it’s pretty hard to go for a 4hr ski tour without getting to the top of the mountain - so I would also be splitting the 4hrs into 2 or 3 pitches during the day. I would assume that that is also fine?

There are other longer rides in the plan that include a few Z4/5 short efforts - again if I did this on the skis I would assume it’s mostly about getting the HR up briefly before settling back into Z2.

(I live in a ski resort, so pretty much locked to 4hrs riding on a trainer or no riding at all - at least for the next 6-8 weeks or so)

I’m training for an event in the Summer, so will be able to get plenty of specific bike training in as the event nears.

1 Like

Yes and no, but I think in your case yes. It will be good for your overall health and fitness, but won’t build bike specific muscular endurance or the endurance you need to sit on a bike for hours (although trainers are more brutal on that front than riding outside). So if you have time later to build the bike specific endurance you’ll need for your event, enjoy the snow.

That’s what I figured… Keep the aerobic systems going for the winter months - then more bike specific stuff can come later when a 4 hour ride can take place outside!

1 Like

I think ski touring is great cross training, and while you can use your cycling training plan as a loose guide on what to do on skis, there are a few things to keep in mind. Use your cycling HR zones loosely- your HR will probably be higher on skis, considering its more of a total body activity compared to cycling. You’re also climbing pretty steadily, so similar to climbing on a bike, your HR will probably increase quickly and may continue to rise the longer you climb. And yes, splitting 4 hours into 2-3 climbs is fine.
While it’s great for you both physically and mentally to take a break from the bike, I don’t think it’s a bad idea to maintain a little bit of cycling in your program. If you stop riding completely, then try to do a 4-hr ride outside in the spring, you may find it surprisingly difficult. You don’t need to do 4 hr rides on the trainer, but an hour or so once a week will help when you transition to outdoor riding later on. If you feel like riding indoor a little, great. If not, just know the adaptation period when you transition might be a bit rough for a couple weeks! Enjoy the snow!


Hi Coach Suzie. I have a similar situation going this winter. Two part question if you don’t mind. I live in Colorado at 6000’. Will be spending half the week up in Breckenridge at 10k’. Regards to training zones. I use training zones from the full and half Monty preformed on my wahoo kicker at my home at 6000’. Am I able to use my training zones from the kicker doing other activities (snowshoeing, hiking, x-skiing)? Does your heart know the difference between activities? Also regards to Elevation, my HR definitely is higher at higher elevation. Going out for a snowshoe on the ski mtn, it’s a struggle at times trying to stay in zone 2 even at a very low pace compared to on the bike. Maybe I’m working harder than I think. I just want to make sure I’m good using my wahoo training zones in those situations. Hope all that made since. Cheers!

@Jherth, hello and welcome to the SYSTM Community! Great question and similar to Coach Suzie’s response to Guy’s question your zones will be different for a two reasons. The first reason is the activities you’re doing are full body. Typically your heart rate for any given Heart Rate Zone for full body activities like running, snowshoeing, x-skiing, etc will be higher than cycling because you are utilizing more muscles in your body than when cycling (as you are mostly seated when cycling). The second reason your Heart Rate Zones will be different is because of the altitude. When you increase altitude your heart rate for any given zone will also increase. My advice to you is before going up to Breckenridge really pay attention to how each zone feels. Then when you are up there start off slow and gradual build to the feeling associated with the desired intensity. Make sense?

  • Coach Corey

Brilliant Corey! That makes total sense, and I like the idea of using feeling at the different elevations and activities compared to how I feel on the bike at 6k’, since there is no way for me to find my true zones for the different activities and elevations.

1 Like