Uphill Double Pole

Summary of Tips for Uphill Double Poling

  • Higher poling frequency – longer push and quick recovery
  • Compact, upright body position
  • Powerful pole push with elbows closer to the sides and hands closer to the face
  • Less range of motion in the pole push
  • Work the legs with greater pumping motion to optimize use of body weight

Topics and Time Stamps

The numbers beside each header refer to the approximate point in the video where the topic is discussed.

0:00 Reference

The title of the paper we referenced in this video is “Double-poling biomechanics of elite cross-country skiers: flat versus uphill terrain.” See below for links.

The researchers studied 13 national and international level male Swedish skiers, average age 26 years. The skiers were on classic roller skis on a treadmill that was set to 1 degree for flat and an incline of 7 degrees to simulate an uphill climb. The one degree incline is supposed to help account for the lack of air resistance because they aren’t actually moving forward through space when they’re on a treadmill.

1:00 The value of thinking of uphill double pole as it’s own technique

According to this study double pole techniques for flats and uphills are technically very distinct, although the differences exist on a continuum and there’s not a phase shift between them. A phase shift is like if you are on a treadmill set to a walking speed and the speed gradually increases – at some point you will switch from a walking gait to a jogging gait, which are completely different.

In contrast, the modifications you make to your technique in order to double pole uphill are graduated and depend on the degree of the incline and the resistance. It would be hard to classify them as completely different gaits.

The value in thinking of uphill double poling as a different technique is that then it makes sense to start working on uphill double pole technique right away, even as a relative beginner.

2:00 Overcoming Gravity

This is self-evident, but still worth stating: the primary challenge of uphill double pole is overcoming gravity. It slows you down so much and so quickly that you face 2 big challenges – first, how to generate enough force to get up the hills, and second, how to recover your poles quickly enough so that you don’t come to a stop during the recovery phase but actually maintain momentum.

So the essential question is, how do we coordinate our movements and adjust our double pole technique to meet these dual challenges?

3:00 Poling Frequency

You need to increase your frequency when going uphill. In this study the skiers’ rate of poling went up about 30%.

4:00 Poling Time to Swing Time Ratio

A complete pole stroke includes a pushing phase, where the poles are in contact with the ground, as well as a swing phase where the poles come forward and recover to the start position.

In uphill double pole, the pole pushing phase is actually longer than it is on the flats, even though you are poling at a higher frequency. So you pole more frequently but your poles are pushing against the ground for longer, which is good because it allows you to generate more force with your poles, but it also means the swing time has to be extremely quick.

On the flats the pole push takes about a quarter of the total cycle time, whereas on the uphills the pole push takes up about half the time of each pole stroke. So that means there is a 1:1 ratio for the poling time and swing time in uphill double pole, versus a 1:3 ratio of poling time versus swing time on the flats.

5:30 Less Range of Motion

Even though the amount of time you get to push against the ground gets longer, the actual amount of movement in the arms and poles is much smaller. So on the flat you would start your pole push with your hands out in front of your shoulders and perhaps push all the way until your hands are just past your hips, but on an uphill your hands wouldn’t reach your hips at all. They would likely just work in front of your body.

6:30 Body Position is more compact and upright. More “pumping in the legs”

  • Body position is a little more upright.
  • The upper body position becomes more compact and there’s less range of motion in the elbow and shoulder joints.
  • At the same time, there’s greater flexion and extension in the lower body at the hips, knees and ankles so there’s a pronounced “pumping” motion in the lower body joints.

There is a lot more movement in the legs in uphill double pole than in DP on the flats. The legs go through a very obvious pumping motion. The pumping motion in the legs comes from greater flexion and extension at the knees and ankles.

So overall, in uphill double pole, there’s less range of motion at the shoulder and elbow joints, but more in the knees and ankles. Upper body movement becomes more compact, but the legs pump more.

8:40 Poling Forces

Poling forces in uphill double pole both last longer and reach a greater value. This relates back to our 2 core challenges related to over coming gravity: the need to generate greater forces.

9:40 Arm angles

The hands are a little closer to the face and the pole tips are a closer to the boots. There’s more flexion at the elbow. There’s less forward flexion at the shoulder and the shoulders are less abducted. That means the hands are closer to the face because the elbows are dropped down a bit. Elbows are also closer to the sides of the torso.

12:40 Heels don’t rise up as much

13:45 Factors correlated to speed

Longer poles and greater body mass correlated to speed, but authors caution that using longer poles might require greater strength, conditioning and technical ability. You probably need good technical skills to manage longer poles.

15:30 Tips for getting started with uphill double poling – beginner by increasing your poling frequency

16:15 Comparison between Emily and Dahria.

The importance of strength, which takes time to develop.


18:15 More about range of motion and how far to push your poles when getting started with uphill double poling

20:15 Comparison of body position in Dahria and Emily

20:44 Comments about the importance and role of double pole training in Chris’s Academy athletes today and where he sees things going in the future

22:00 More tips for improving your uphill double poling and skiing in general: continued improvement by continually challenging yourself


Link to the abstract of the scientific paper referenced in this video.

Stoggl T, Holmberg HC. Double-Poling Biomechanics of Elite Cross-country Skiers: Flat versus Uphill Terrain. Med Sci Sports and Exer 2016; 48(8):1580-9

How to get your own copy of this or other studies.