Cross Training

Having looked at how to increase our distance and extend our goals, cross-training has been mentioned. So what do we mean by cross-training?

Adding a variety of training types to your routine to achieve an improved and rounded skill set that your body can call upon.

I continuously pick on running, so let’s take cycling as an example this time around…

Cycling, an amazing activity, with lots of subsections (road/MTB/hybrid/electric assisted) for almost all to enjoy.

The motion of cycling is repetitive, we utilise the same muscle groups, in the same direction, in the same order. Over time these muscles will build whilst other equally needed muscles may not, or those that aren’t directly involved will not be worked in a sufficient way.

This is where cross-training comes in, we can use a different workout method to help bring those muscles not used in our primary activity up to the same tolerances and with them, offer even more performance to the primary movers.

Nerdy example incoming, in cycling we would label the quads and hamstrings as the prime movers, they do the bulk of the leg work after all, yet if we look further into the movement, we find that the hips are the initiation.

So, working back up the chain, including hip strengthening and mobility work will allow better force production, in short, the stronger the initiation the more force we can produce with the larger prime movers.

This is where cross-training offers many avenues and can get a little grey scale. There are lots of other ways we can help to build more resilience into our bodies, and each has its own benefit, recovery rate and time.

So, you want me to do separate strength work, active recovery and improve my flexibility with stretching? – kind of a lot, don’t you think?

It is, and just like when we started out with our original goal we had to build up, cross-training is just another opportunity to build up, however, this time we are widening our operating platform, creating headroom if you like.

The million-dollar question – What order is best?

Every goal has its unique workload, and every individual their own personal strengths and area’s for improvement. A real-life example:

Runner with great endurance, imbalance in one leg:

We added a strength session to help build leg strength to help remove dominance and a stretching program to help relax both legs. The dominant leg was taking the hit during running, and the non-dominant during the strength work.

To save some time, a short post run stretching routine was created, we also dropped a run in favour of strength work, this allowed the dominant leg to catch a bit of a break.

When considering adding cross-training or specific strength training it’s important to look overall at where our bodies are, when working with athletes, I always ask the same questions:

How does it feel?

What do we feel just before we undertake the activity, when we are doing the activity, and in the immediate time and day after?

What tires first, and how does it feel?

Is there a specific area that tires first, does that feeling continue into the next day (think muscle soreness)?

If I had a magic wand, what would you change?

What part would you change, for example our cyclist may want a stronger lower back to help with different riding positions, a powerlifter may want better grip strength for bar control.

Perhaps asking ourselves these questions and writing (pen and paper works well, even in our digital age) the answers will give us clues to where and in what order we should introduce different types of training into our routines.

Once we have some answers written down, we can then look at the types of cross-training that would improve these.

Need a sounding board for where and what to add? – speak to a member of Team SF email info@spikefitness.co.uk or call 07597215652