It’s a common problem—runners can’t get enough of pounding the pavement, cyclists don’t want to get out of the saddle and swimmers, well let’s just say it’s tough to keep them on dry land. Athletes love their individual sports and yes, that is a problem.
As athletes rack up the miles focusing on their discipline, they run the risk of suffering an overuse injury. The best way to minimize the risk, while also remaining active is to switch it up. In other words, all athletes should be cross-training. This means that runners, for example, should be supplementing their regular training with weight lifting, cycling, yoga, or all three. That’s just one example and there are countless ways to cross-train, but the important aspect is that athletes vary their training to target different muscle groups in various ways.
This practice of training across multiple sports or disciplines can provide benefits for all athletes. We’ve outlined a few major reasons why every athlete should be cross-training.
Cross-training can help prevent overuse injury. As stated above, the best known benefit of training in a different sport is protecting some of the muscles and joints that might be getting too much use. In addition to minimizing wear and tear on those parts of the body, cross-training can help prevent an injury from returning, something all injured athletes want to avoid.
It helps athletes come back from injury. When those dreaded injuries do happen, athletes don’t want to stop working out altogether and lose the progress they’ve made—cross-training is often the answer for keeping fitness levels up despite injuries.
Cross-training can be a valuable active recovery tool. In addition to eating right, staying hydrated and getting plenty of sleep, athletes can help their bodies recover from strenuous exercise by cross-training. Light workouts that focus on other muscle groups are beneficial to furthering overall fitness and getting back to your main sport quicker.
Changing up your training routine can keep you (and your body) from getting bored. We all love our individual sports, but if all you do is run or cycle or swim, you’re bound to get bored at some point and you’re bound to hit a plateau. Changing it up will ensure you and your body have fresh challenges.
Working in other disciplines can help you improve in your main sport. Some athletes think that if they want to be the best in their sport they need to spend all their time training in that main sport, but cross-training is an effective way to boost your performance. Supplementing your core sport training with weight lifting, yoga, agility drills, plyometrics, ect. will bring greater benefits than simply logging more miles.
Cross-training can help condition the entire body and raise overall fitness levels. Most sports rely on a specific combination of muscles, which means the other muscles are somewhat neglected. Quality cross-training helps ensure those neglected muscles are worked out too, leaving you better able to handle a variety of physical challenges.