Today I wanted to talk to you about cross-training. What is it? How should your routine be? What are the advantages?
1. What is that?
Firstly, let’s define cross-training, shall we? Cross-training is an exercise regimen that uses several modes of training to develop a specific component of fitness. For instance, if you’re a runner, biking can help improving your overall performance by allowing to exercise the opposite muscles you use when you run.
2. Why is that?
Cross-training is also important as it allows you to build a more balanced body. Let’s look at runners again. When you run, you develop mainly your hamstrings and your calves (the muscles on the back of your legs). You don’t, however, train many other muscles groups, such as the front of the legs, arms, shoulders, back, abdominals, etc.
Also, running its not very good at promoting flexibility. On contrary, it ” does more to inhibit flexibility in the muscles and joints than it does to improve it”, according to Bob Glover.
And if you just run, or just go to the gym, etc. the strength difference between your various muscle groups and lack of flexibility can lead to injury. That’s why cross-training is so important.
3. Know what you’re working
Here’s a list of some key muscle gruops and sports that lead to their development.
Ankles – Swimming
Abs – Race walking, Rowing, Swimming, deep-water running
Buttocks – Race walking, rowing, swimming
Hip – Biking, race walking
Low back – Swimming, rowing
Quadriceps – Biking, race walking, skiing, rowing, swimming, stair climbing, skating, deep-water running
Shins – Biking (with toe clip)
Upper Body – Swimming, race walking, rowing, deep-water running
List adapted from Bob Glover’s: The Runner’s Handbook
4. Last thoughts
As you can see, a single activity can’t exercise all muscle groups. The one that comes closer to it, though, is swimming.
Swimming and biking are great cross-training activities for running. The former helps you exercise the upper body, back and abdominals – as well as being an aerobic activity, just like running – while the latter works the opposite muscle groups than running, such as the hips and quadriceps.
Having this said, you should consider including more than one activity in your training regime in order for you to create a more balanced and flexible body (which is almost the same as saying better results). Also, this type of training, if used wisely, can contribute to a better performance on a specific sport.
Do you think cross-training is important? Do you follow this kind of exercise regimen? If so, what do you include? Feel free to share! :)