The Long Distance Ski Championship

Wednesday Workout: ‘Good Old Fashioned’ Hill Climbs with Bryan Fletcher

Author: 
FasterSkier

Bryan Fletcher, seen here at 2016 U.S. Ski Jumping and Nordic Combined Large Hill Championships in Park City, Utah, isn’t all about the downhills. One of his favorite workouts is a “good-old-fashioned hill climb.” (Photo: USSA/Tyler Tate/T Squared Action Sports)

When Bryan Fletcher retired from the Nordic Combined World Cup this spring, FasterSkier asked the national-team veteran and two-time Olympian for a workout that is sure to stand the test of time. Here’s what he had to say.  

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After 11 years on U.S. Nordic Combined’s national team, it’s no wonder many of Bryan Fletcher’s most recent teammates viewed him as the ‘Team Dad’. Along with being an actual father — he has a daughter named Ellery who will be 2 in August — he’s dedicated close to 25 years of his life to NoCo. Food for thought: the average age of his teammates at this year’s Winter Olympics was 23.

So when Fletcher announced that, at age 31, he would be retiring from NoCo this spring, FasterSkier reached out to the veteran for a tried-and-true workout. Fletcher’s response was simple. For him, nothing beats a “good-old-fashioned hill climb.” The experienced skier’s most savvy advice? Take the gondola back down.

“Downhills can be pretty abusive on the knees and your back,” Fletcher explained on the phone. “[This workout] is super-easy way to get long hours in or a good intensity session in, without putting a huge load on the lower body.”

Fletcher’s other favorite part about the workout is its versatility and adaptability (two words all parents should know).

It can be a long, easy distance workout or an interval one depending on the effort you choose to climb back up. For an easy workout, hike up at a Level 1 effort and take the gondola back down. For an intensity session, hike/bound up at a Level 3 effort and take the gondola back down.

“I chose this workout because I think it’s well-suited to all nordic athletes,” Fletcher said. “It really has a little bit of everything that a nordic athlete should be focusing on in terms of their endurance and also their hiking and bounding abilities.”

The Workout: Easy Endurance or Level 3/Steady State Intensity

Terrain: Alpine hill (preferably with a Gondola to ride down)

Warmup: 15-20 minutes easy

  • If doing intensity, Fletcher recommends at least one “pickup” at a steady state pace during the warmup time. “Nothing too long,” he said. “Just enough to get the muscles warm and the legs moving and to get that speed in the legs a little bit.”

Set: If doing easy distance, hike up with poles at a Level 1 effort. If doing intensity, Fletcher recommends doing 4 x 15 minutes at threshold and taking 5 minutes in between.

Cool down: 15-20 minutes

Total time: 120-130 minutes

Fletcher’s Top-Two Tips

  1. Wear the water belt. “They’re not going to have rest stations along the way so you’ve got to stay hydrated and it will be super-refreshing on your ride down.”
  2. Take stake in the scenery. “The best way to keep this fun is to enjoy the hike and the nature that you’re in.”

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