• Photo for Power Cable Ski Poles
    Photo Credit: Nicolas Smith

Power Cable Ski Poles

By RealJock Staff

This exercise provided courtesy of Billy Polson, founder and co-owner of DIAKADI Body training gym, voted best personal training gym in San Francisco by CitySearch in 2006.

Cross country skiing offers an excellent upper back and shoulder workout, because of the strength you exert using the ski poles to propel yourself over the snow. Simulate that intense training using a double-armed cable machine and a half-squat stance.

Muscles Worked
Back (lats)
Shoulders (deltoids)

Starting Position
Attach a single handle to each arm of a double-arm cable machine on the high setting. Stand facing the machine and grasp one handle in each hand, with your palms facing the floor. With your feet hip-width apart, bend at the hip and sit into a half squat. Your arms should extend upward toward the machine such that they are a little below forming a straight line with your back (see Photo 1).


  1. From the starting position, use a powerful single motion to pull both arms straight down and back while keeping your chest forward, as though propelling yourself with ski poles. Your arms should be extended through this motion, with your hands staying palms down. Pull back far enough that your hands come behind your hips at the bottom of your motion (see Photos 2 to 4).
  2. Raise your arms back to the starting position, maintaining the palms-down orientation of your hands and the straightness through your elbow. Repeat the ski poles for a set of 12 repetitions (see Photos 5 and 6).
Single-Arm Variation
If you don't have access to a double-arm cable machine, do the exercise on a single-arm machine. Do a full set with one arm, and then switch and repeat with the other arm.

About Billy Polson: Billy Polson is the founder and co-owner of DIAKADI Body training gym, which was voted the best personal training gym in San Francisco by CitySearch in 2006. A competitive swimmer and triathlete in his own right, Polson has over 15 years of experience working as a coach and trainer, and was recently named by Men's Journal Magazine (December 2005) as one of the Top 100 Trainers in America.