What is Hill Bounding?
Hill bounding is something that promotes quick, powrful movements through the leg muscles, and it also helps an athlete find the relationship between upper and lower body. The primary goal in most exercises related to cross-country skiing is to become better at moving your own body weight. Movement efficiency and quickness are essential to good skiing technique, and bounding is a good tool to address this while teaching your body to move all of its weight.
In the photo series above you can see bounding technique in sequence. One thing to make note of right away is the difference between ski imitation drills and bounding. When one is doing ski imitation (with or without poles) they are moving their front foot forward up the trail while keeping it close to the ground. This action is similar to classic striding, and will appear as more of a shuffle. Bounding is different in that the skier is trying to get off the ground, and doing so by using the momentum generated through the lead leg driving up. Forward progression in hill bounding is not the goal.
Another technical aspect related to hill bounding is hip position. You'll hear coaches and instructors say over and over again, "Get your hips up! Make sure your hips are high!" The reason for this focus on hips is to keep you on top of your skis, and prevent late compression of classic wax pockets. In skating it promotes a more crisp and complete transfer of weight from one ski to the other. When you are hill bounding it is difficult to let your hips go back and still get your feet high off the ground. A natural adjustment that I have seen in athletes has been for them to position their hips in a way that gets all of their weight over the ball of their foot to gain vertical lift. This is not always the natural reaction on skis, but if trained regularly through hill bounding exercises it will promote better hip position on skis.
The alignment of the body in hill bounding is something that shouldn't be ignored. As you are doing these bounding workouts it is important to note to yourself where your weight is when it is yielding the best results. You can then transition from hill bounding to ski imitation (also called: moose hoofing) while thinking about where your hips and upper body are positioned.
Hill bounding is a great exercise to have in your workout plan, because it can be executed in almost any dryland season weather conditions. The benefits are substantial, and the workout can be rewarding by virtue of how difficult it can be. The grade of the slope you are using will have a distinct impact on the difficulty level of the workout, and the duration of the hill bounding interval can be manipulated to address different workout zones or levels.
One side note is to always be careful when you are walking/running back down the hill after a hill bounding interval. I'm pretty sure that the only times I have rolled my ankle severly were making my way down to do the next interval (once was in the dark, and I take full responsibility for that poor planning!). Enjoy your next hill bounding session, and we'll see you on snow soon.
By:Justin Easter; Reposted from earlier SkiPost