Thursday, May 24, 2018

The Importance of Cross-Training

Cross training is something that has always existed for me as something important to do, but has honestly never been at the top of my list. For running, I love to get out there, stretch a bit, and put in the miles. For BMX I love to go for a bike ride and practice gates, straightaways and turns on the track. It all seems pretty straightforward. Recently, with the help of a trainer, I have become aware of the importance of cross-training and of the long term benefits gained from including cross-training in a regular workout schedule.

Cross training includes everything from stretching to resistance training to cycling and beyond. It helps develop fast-twitch muscle speed and builds up those weak muscles we don't normally use when we are running or riding a bike (or really anything you love to do). Cross-training also helps reduce injuries and muscle tightness, and they help reduce the high impact our body takes on without a loss in fitness. It also helps during periods of injury and rehabilitation, and helps us get back on our feet faster. I used to stretch and foam roll much more than I have been doing recently, and my body can tell. I've been making more of an effort to make that a habit again.

While I still have a long way to go on my own cross-training path, I have found a few favorites (some I use more than others) that have helped my training tremendously. Below are a few I have tried and enjoy:

Stretching/Foam Rolling

No one likes tight muscles. I have been stretching more in the last few weeks and can tell the difference in how I run and recover. Since foam rolling is like a deep tissue massage, it can hurt, but your muscles will love you for it after. There are so many different kinds to choose from as well. Also, on the bright side, the more often you foam roll the more your tight muscles get worked out and the less it hurts. I have been wanting to try out a Roll Recovery for awhile, so that's next one the "rolling out" list. 😄
This is the foam roller I use. I picked it up from Academy a few years back. 


This is one I am looking forward to doing more this summer. My current gym doesn't have a pool, but when I was in college I would use the rec center's lap pool, swimming laps back and forth until I was worn out. Swimming is a great form of cross training, and you get a really great aerobic workout while avoiding high impact on your joints. Not to mention I am very excited to try out my new Garmin in the pool. 😃

Gym pools, love them! 

Strength Training

This form of cross-training is something that's growing on me. I will admit, when I began weight training recently after not having touched a dumbbell since the late 90's, it was hard and frustrating and I felt like my nephew's favorite dinosaur. I am beginning to like it so much more now, and have started branching out and trying new gym machines.


Explosive Jumps

Plyometric jumps are very important, especially for BMX. They develop the explosiveness you need out of the gate, and after doing these for a few weeks I can definitely tell the difference. They work out muscles I don't normally use , and I have found that I also don't get as tired when I'm running those longer miles.


I'm pretty new to cross training, and if anyone has any tips, I'd love to hear them! 

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