Whether you are a runner constantly seeking that “runners high” or a swimmer who feels most at home in the pool, adding specialized cross-training workouts to your preferred regimen can benefit your overall athletic performance!
Cross-training is athletic training in activities other than the athlete’s main sport, with the goal of improving overall wellness and sports performance. All athletes can benefit from adding cross training to their routine, to minimize the risk of muscle over use, encourage creativity in their workouts and target different muscle groups. What does this mean? In practice, it means adding new activities to your workouts, from weightlifting to running; or cycling to paddling or yoga. Owner and Founder of Endurance Pilates and Yoga, Julie Gagnon-Erickson highlights the various advantages of cross training.
Cross training benefits for athletes
Recovery — Cross training, combined with other important health and fitness tools like good eating habits, excellent hydration and enough sleep; can help athletes recover from the strenuous workouts and effects of playing their sport. The low-impact workouts cross training provides offer additional fitness tools that support long term professional growth and help athletes recover after a match.
Injury prevention — By protecting important muscle groups needed to perform your sport, cross training can help prevent overuse injuries, minimize wear and tear and prevent previous injuries from returning.
Injury support — Athletes who are injured playing their sport can look to cross training to help get them back in the game. Cross training can provide the low-impact workouts needed for professional athletes to keep up their fitness levels while recovering from injury.
Creativity — Even professional athletes can get bored with their training regimen. Spending too much time on one activity can be a drain on the brain and on your overall energy levels. Cross training can add new challenges and goals to your workouts, engaging the mind and the body and improving wellness.
Overall fitness — Cross training has shown to improve overall fitness levels for all athletes. For sports which require specific muscle strength and agility, athletes can sometimes neglect other areas. Adding cross training to your workouts can help with neglected muscle groups, reduce injury risk and improve overall health and wellness for all types of professional athletes.
Here are some tips for adding cross fit training to your workouts:
Cyclists — Add impact running to your schedule to reduce mental and physical burnout. You can start with short uphill sprints for maximum impact to your cycling performance, or if you want to work out indoors add running hill intervals on a treadmill to your workouts.
Yoga — Adding yoga to your workouts is great for mental and physical strength building for all athletes. It is a low-impact activity with measurable positive results. For team sports athletes, focusing on yourself for 30–45 minutes a few times weekly can help improve mental integrity, as well as the added yoga benefits of flexibility, core strength and muscle strength.
Check out more on Julie Gagnon-Erickson here.