Did you know you could become a better runner by choosing to spend time in a different sport? Athletes, no matter how elite (from a professional to a weekend gym-goer), experience significant improvements in their sport of choice by spending time outside of their comfort zone. Welcome to cross-training!
Cross-training is when you partake in two or more sports or activities to improve your overall performance in a specific sport. It’s important to mix things up and challenge yourself beyond the sport of your choice for several reasons; it helps you to avoid burnout, fitness plateaus, potential injuries, builds agility and focus, and expands your overall athletic skills.
Let’s go over a few cross-training suggestions for specific sports and fitness activities:
- Running- If you love to run, you’ll benefit by adding in time at the gym via strength training. Building strength, especially in your legs and core, will boost your overall endurance and speed as well as ward off potential injuries.
- Biking- When you spend time spinning or biking, you are keeping your hips in a regularly flexed position that leads to tightness throughout your quadriceps and hip flexors. This can cause muscular imbalances and injuries, as well as uncomfortable muscle soreness. You can fix this by cross-training with yoga so you can stretch out areas like your hips and improve your overall flexibility.
- Swimming- Swimming is a non-weight bearing activity that boosts your overall cardiovascular fitness and strength, but doesn’t help to build bone density. You’ll benefit by cross-training with weight-bearing, higher-impact sports like running and strength training.
- HIIT junkie-HIIT enthusiasts need low-impact, endurance activities like spinning, elliptical, and walking to challenge their bodies at different intensities and to avoid overtraining injuries.
- Yoga- Yogis will progress and expand their fitness ability by cross-training with cardio-based and strength training activities. If you spend a lot of time on the yoga mat, add in a few sessions of cardio and full-body lifting sessions and watch your practice expand as a result!