CROSS TRAINING By Cord Prettyman, MPT
In case you haven’t noticed, exercise junkies are an obsessive lot. Those that love going for the burn and pushing themselves to their physical limit, are not only possessed by the need to move but are usually devoted to a single sport or activity.
If you doubt that statement, take a ride to the Manitou Incline some morning at daybreak and check out the dedicated legions lining up to run up the Incline. Return on any other day and you’ll notice the same people doing the same training routine day-after-day.
Don’t get me wrong, getting up the Incline is a formidable task. However, take that same group of people to the nearest pool and it would be unlikely that they could swim an eighth-of-a-mile.
Does that mean that the Incline devotees are in terrible shape? To the contrary, by most standards they are in excellent physical condition.
The problem is that their myopic exercise routine has resulted in a fitness level that has a specificity related to Incline-like conditions. They are guilty of violating one of the cardinal rules of functional fitness – “Variety.”
And, they have plenty of company. Cyclists have a tendency to only cycle, swimmers only swim, power lifters only lift and runners – well, runners just run and run and run.
Ask the power lifter to catch a puppy that got out of the yard and it will be a near death experience. Ask the runner to move 100 pounds from one spot to another and it’s off to the chiropractor’s.
Doing the same exercise routine over and over results in conditioning with a narrow specificity, an increased risk of injury and yields diminishing fitness returns.
Is there a better way to train? Yes – it’s called Cross Training.
The term cross training refers to a training regime that encompasses several different forms of exercise that includes aerobic conditioning, strength training, flexibility, balance and pylometrics routines. There is no denying the importance of training specifically for your chosen sport, however, cross training is an excellent way to improve your overall level of fitness.
The About.com Medical Review Board lists the number one benefit of cross training as injury prevention. Most soft tissue injuries are due to overuse of specific muscle groups, inadequate recovery time and muscular strength imbalances.
Other perks of a varied exercise routine are flexibility in where and when you workout; working specific muscles, while other muscles recover; and improvement in your overall skill, agility and balance. Cross training also reduces exercise boredom, while producing a higher level of conditioning.
For cardiovascular fitness choose two or three different exercises from running, swimming, cycling, rowing, hiking, aerobic classes or court sports like tennis, racquetball or basketball. In the world of weight lifting use free weights, machines, body weight or tubing and bands changing your routine up on a weekly basis.
Don’t forget to include stretching, yoga, Pilates and balance. And if you’re actively playing a sport, you’ll want to venture into the arena of speed work, agility drills and plyometrics.
Train smart and injury-free.
Cord Prettyman is a certified Master Personal Trainer and owner of Absolute Workout Fitness and Post-Re-hab Studio in Woodland Park. He can be reached at 687-7437, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org through his website at www.cordprettyman.com.