Thursday, July 9, 2009

Cross Training Ideal Summer Diversion

The dog days of summer are officially with us! Daylight that starts early and ends late. Clouds do their best to shelter us from the burning sun above, but are only marginally successful, because when the sun pokes through, it's hot, hot, hot!

For whatever reason, it's just really hard to get the body going in these conditions. Whether it's the heat and or the humidity, it's simply not inspiring weather to crank up the intensity ... or easily extend your workout.

So, now is a perfect time to introduce or better incorporate some cross training into your regular exercise patterns.

If you're like a lot of folks, you've got a good routine well established: strength train 3 or 4 days per week; 2 or 3 moderate cardio days; and a long slow cardio event on the weekend.

It's all good. Actually, that's terrific! Because if you've found a way to get that much exercise into your life you're well on your way to accomplishing anything you'd like to achieve with your fitness program. And your life. You're approaching Fitness Fung Shui!

But with the summer doldrums settling in, now's a good time to break out of this groove a bit. And some cross training is the perfect solution!

For starters, new exercises elevate the body's nervous state. A lot of energy is spent sending electrical impulses around your body. And when you perform a foreign exercise, your body is in a heightened state of alertness, generating even more electricity. As a result, you'll burn more calories simply by trying some new exercises.

Additionally, if you've been in the 'groove' for a while, you'll hit a wall after not too long. The body adapts to the exercises, becomes fit, and then finds the routine merely ... well, routine! You don't need (and shouldn't) go to extremes to alter your exercise program, but you should change it somewhat significantly at least every 6 weeks. Fitness professionals call this periodization. And without going into the science of adaption, just recognize that a bit of cross training can be tremendously helpful with your program.

Finally, no matter how gentle you are with your joints, and no matter how careful you are to hydrate and stretch, if you're into your middle aged years, overuse of specific body motions can introduce pains, strains, and injury. Repetitive stress can set in. Sometimes it's diagnosed as tendinitis.

Using new or foreign exercises allows highly used muscles and joints to recover a bit while others are utilized. And this is the greatest benefit to cross training.

Here, then, are some specific cross training ideas:
  • For cyclists, it means running a bit
  • For runners it means ...
  • For folks on the FT program, where we completely handle your program periodization, it primarily means changing up your long, slow cardio event.
  • Other Fun Ways to add some cross training to your program:
    • Kayak for a morning, afternoon, or evening
    • Go for a day hike (run?) in the woods
    • Run on a sandy beach
    • Rollerblade out on of our great bike paths
    • Rollerski ... but get some instruction 1st ... some skills are needed
    • Swim, then swim harder or longer
    • Do some Rock Climbing
    • Join a league and play volleyball, soccer, hockey, or lacrosse once a week

No comments: