The Total Athlete

The Total Athlete: Cross Training

By Jane Martin, B.S. Sport and Exercise Science

Surprise! You’re an athlete! Many individuals who find roller derby have spent their lives considering themselves the opposite of an athlete. Cross training is a term you may have heard used often in regards to improving skills on the track, but never really understood. Lucky for you, I’m here to do some splainin’.

Cross training is defined as training in two or more sports in order to improve fitness and performance, especially in a main sport. For most athletes, cross training refers to work outs in the gym that use weights and machines to exercise specific muscle groups that may not be utilized on the track. This can also include agility work, like ladder drills, and endurance training, like high intensity interval training. How many of you have looked in the mirror and realized that one butt cheek is larger and more perky than the other? Or that you could probably crush a watermelon with your thighs but can’t do one push up to save your life? If this is the case, you’re probably slacking on your cross training.

The goal of cross training is to achieve function fitness, which not only makes you a better athlete but makes day-to-day activity easier. Suddenly, climbing all those stairs at work doesn’t make you winded anymore. Bringing your groceries in from the car is a one-tripper now! Better yet, your butt starts to even out and you got sweet biceps to show off. Regularly cross training and improving functional fitness also decreases risk of injury. The harder you train your body for just one activity, the more stress you put on all the muscles and bones involved in that one activity.

At this point, you must be thinking “Jane, this all seems dandy, but will I have to put hours into the gym to achieve all these benefits? I have a life you know!” Never fear, my friends! You could cross train as little as thirty minutes a day and still reap the benefits. You could even split up the thirty minutes over the course of your day if you don’t have a straight half hour to spare. Ten minutes in the morning, ten minutes on your lunch break, and ten minutes before practice will still increase your functional fitness.

To make a long story short, should you be cross training? Yes, absolutely! Every athlete should be working on improving their game and fitness on and off the track. You will be better conditioned and reduce your risk of injury. You will notice a huge difference in your skills on the track, along with a difference in your day-to-day activities. Become the Total Athlete!

Stay tuned for more tips, tricks, and exercises from yours truly!

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