by Nikki LaRochelle
In the winter, I’m a Skimo (or rando) racer.
“What’s that?” you may ask.
Essentially, it’s skinning uphill as hard as you can, transitioning, and then skiing downhill as fast as you can. A typical Skimo race involves multiple laps, covering anywhere between 3,000 and 13,000 vertical feet. It’s a great sport! You should try it …
This year I’m moving beyond my comfort zone and focusing on one thing to make myself stronger: Olympic Weightlifting. This—for the record—is definitely different than CrossFit! You know, power cleans, push jerks, overhead squats, full squats, etc. My personal training pal and Olympic lifting genius friend, Chris Hughes, helps me out by correcting my form–it’s challenging and great!
Here’s how Olympic Weightlifting works:
- Olympic lifts are considered whole body compound movements, which are vital to quality athletic performance. In layman’s terms, “You get a lot of bang for your buck.” For example, performing a power clean develops leg, hip, back, and shoulder strength, while also developing core stability and strength.
- Olympic lifts replicate movement patterns crucial to performance and sport (which in my case is skiing). I perform drills using a ladder on the ground to help replicate the way I move and weight my body when skiing. This helps me with agility and lateral power.
- Neuromuscular recruitment—the ability to recruit and contract as many motor units as possible—is essential for developing speed. The explosive, Olympic-style movements make you faster.
- Overhead squats help my postural strength. I use this strength to ski through nasty crud, around down trees, and over off-camber terrain. It also helps my postural integrity when I’m tired and want to collapse my chest. “Spine straight, head retracted, chest open!”
- Olympic Lifting also helps with things like power, muscular strength, muscular endurance, range of motion, and agility.
So have I noticed a difference in my racing?
Yes! I’m quicker this year (even 2% counts!) and my quads look bigger, which, quite frankly, is exciting.
This season, get out of your (comfort) zone and adopt a new sport, skill, or hobby that pushes your limits … whatever they may be.
Nikki LaRochelle is a Kate’s Ambassador, graphic designer, and ski mountaineer. She loves racing, but prefers puttering around outside above treeline. She currently resides in Breckenridge, Colorado with her husband Brad who is her favorite adventure teammate. To learn more about Nikki, check out her online portfolio.