hjs wrote: rowbike wrote:
I'm not sure where this idea that cross country skiing being better than cycling comes from, but its not. Cycling will do far more to for your cardio fitness than cross country skiing ever will, even at low intensity. You just can't get the intensities in XC skiing that you can with cycling. In fact, cycling and indoor spinning are the two top cardio workouts for burning calories at high intensity, tied only with running. This was confirmed in a Harvard study.
http://www.health.harvard.edu/newsweek/ ... vities.htm
When done right, cycling is a full body exercise, albeit more concentrated on the lower body. However, the proper pedal stroke is a circular motion, so you use every muscle in your legs, not just your quads. If you simply pump the pedals on the downstroke then yes, you are primarily focusing on your quads, but that is not a proper pedal stroke if you are doing any sort of fitness training.
Skiing takes more skill, top skiers are the more people on the planet. Average Joe with no technique less so.
Cycling is so not a complete body exercise, its by far the most limited thing you can do and you upperbody does zilch, look how cyclers are build, upperbody is just skin and bones. Skiers often are right doing well on the erg, cyclers not due to the upperbody limitations.
Cycling does have the plus of being very easy to learn, apart from falling being very injury free and you don,t need special weather. But in itself its the most limited form of exercise there is.
I'll say it again, cycling IS a full body workout. You cannot cycle without using your whole body. Try climbing a hill without using your arms.
The original question was about getting a cross training workout, not technique, and my definition of the best workout is how many calories you expend for a given effort, or get in the best condition, which may differ from your criteria. As someone who grew up cross country skiing, yes, it is harder to learn, but I've never found it a better workout. Sure, you can ski up a hill, but it's not much different than climbing stairs using the railings. For me, the intensity is just too slow when you average 80+ rpm pedaling on a bike. Cyclists are often considered the best conditioned athletes, though that would be for endurance, and certainly not all around muscle development.
While rowing and XC skiing engage your upper body more than cycling, no one should rely on them them for an adequate upper body workout. This is a common misconception that they provide "full" body workouts just because you are using your arms and legs. Rowing and skiing in particular I find you mainly work your back and triceps in your upper body, leaving your chest and front shoulders far less engaged, which can lead to injury due to the muscle imbalances. If you want to truly work your upper body, lift weights like I do.
Bottom line in measuring a workout is the amount of calories you burn over the same time and effort. The Harvard study I listed demonstrates that vigorous cycling and running burned the most of any type of workout.
XC skiing is great if one wants to do that, and I think is great myself. If that is your preference, by all means do it.