Roller skiing for beginners

Roller skiing activates the entire body in a way that only cross-country skiing on snow can match. You strengthen your arms, stomach, back and legs while training endurance. Here are the best training tips for newbies to roller skiing!

Text: Åge Skinstad

If you are completely new to roller skiing, we recommend that you get equipment that matches your level of activity. Whether you’re going (normal) classic or want to try your hand at skating, it’s important that you have the right skis for the right activity. Classic roller skis have smaller, wider wheels than skate skis, and they also have a lock so that they don't roll backwards. This is usually fitted to the rear wheel.

Which roller skis should you choose?

We have prepared an article on which roller skis are best for you. Read it here: Which roller skis are right for you?

How to start roller skiing

As a beginner on roller skis, it is important to start on asphalt surfaces without car traffic. This can be a flat and clear stretch along a walkway, but perhaps the best is a paved parking lot, schoolyard or similar. The most important thing is that the asphalt is as nice and even as possible. Many roller ski runs are too steep for beginners, but parts of the course, preferably in the stadium area or shortest runs, can also be suitable for beginners. Where there are biathlon targets, at least the penalty round will always be flat and well-suited to beginners.

After buying or borrowing the correct roller skis and poles with asphalt spikes, you are ready to find the right place to start roller ski training. There are special ski poles for roller skiing and the option to fit roller ski spikes on the winter poles. Winter wheels are not suitable for roller skis.


Whether you choose classic skiing or skating, it’s important to keep the center of gravity in the front part of your ski boot when starting up. We call it 'sharpening the knee', i.e. you push the knee forward and don't stand hard on the heel. This is especially important when you have chosen classic skis.

A typical beginner’s mistake is putting most of your weight at the back, which means you fall on your butt because the skis don't move backwards due to the lock. Once you've found your balance, just start moving. The same applies to skiing:

  • Shifting your weight from one leg and then to the other in a diagonal technique. All your weight should be on the front leg. With a ski lock, you will always have grip even without gravity transfer. However, please note that this should be training for the ski season and it is important to use the same technique as in the winter. With the buckle on your winter skis, it is the gravity transfer that gives you a grip.
  • It is then important to remember that your arms should not be too straight. This applies to both diagonal and double poling. Keeping your shoulders low as you push forward provides good pressure on the ground and also helps with gravity transfer.
  • Double poling or poling is the most commonly used technique on roller skis. Here, it's important that you put the spikes on the poles into the asphalt in front of the ski shoes and that you tighten your upper body at the start of the poling, a bit like a sit-up movement. This will activate your entire upper body and not just use the muscles on the back of your arms.
  • A double pole with kick is a great exercise on roller skis and is used when it is too steep to pole and too flat to move diagonally.
  • "If you choose skating and skate skiing, the same basic principles apply with “sharpened” knees, bent arms and full gravity transfer." When skating, your nose and knee should always be directly above the ski you are on at all times. Also make sure that your hips don't tilt up and down and are as stable as possible.

How to brake on roller skis

You can learn more about this in the article "How to brake on roller skis"

Roller ski exercises for beginners

A great exercise on roller skis for beginners is to walk in a figure of eight in a closed area. Place your drinks belt and jacket on the ground, leaving plenty of space on the surface where you are. Then move in figure eights between and around these two objects.

As you gain confidence, shorten the distance between the objects so that the figure eight becomes smaller, the turns become tighter and the technical challenge greater.


We have written a piece about about roller skiing in traffic. Read more about safety in traffic in the article roller skiing in traffic.

Happy roller skiing!

Best wishes

Åge Skinstad