My fitness journey took off when I started running. Running allowed me to adopt a more active lifestyle instead of a sedentary one. I absolutely love running and always looking for ways to become stronger and faster. This is where cross-training comes into the picture. Cross-training is an easy way to add variety to an exercise or training program by engaging in different types of activities that develop muscular fitness and aerobic conditioning. With cross-training, it’s also possible to lose fat. Simply put, it adds a new form of exercise to your existing workout routine. This has helped me improve my fitness, reduce the incidence of running injuries as well as diminish the potential for boredom.
This is what ultimately led me to indoor cycling. Indoor cycling is a perfect form of high-intensity cross-training. I saw it as a way to supplement my running especially during the colder months. As a method of cross-training, indoor cycling can reduce the risk of injury by substituting the high-impact of running with a low to no impact activity. This gives your joints a break as well as works a different set of muscles than those used for running. By incorporating a low-impact activity to my workout, it helps minimize lower-leg problems from running. In addition, indoor cycling is also a cardiovascular workout that makes your muscles use oxygen more efficiently and strengthens your heart and lungs, making it a sure-fire way to enhance running performance.
While I love indoor cycling, I couldn’t just limit my cross-training to it. Any time you perform the same activity without cross-training, you wind up creating an imbalance between opposing muscles groups. In the case of indoor cycling, quads and hip flexors can overdevelop, which can cause an imbalance. This is where I discovered and added indoor rowing to my routine. In some ways, indoor rowing can provide a better total-body workout than indoor cycling. Not only is indoor rowing cardiovascular, it utilizes nine major muscle groups, including the quads, hamstrings, abs, triceps, biceps, glutes and helps develop a stronger core. In addition to improved muscle strength, indoor rowing is a great way to maintain flexibility and balance. The end result is building muscle, burning fat and improving fitness across the board. Perfect for runners.
Regular strength training is also a vital part of my cross-training routine. Strength training is a great way to improve strength, increase endurance, boost the metabolism, burn calories, improve joint mobility, and tone the muscles. I’m in my late forties and lean muscle mass naturally diminishes with age. The percentage of fat in the body will increase if nothing is done to replace the lean muscle lost over time. Strength training can help you preserve and enhance your muscle mass. When you get stronger, you're better able to lose weight, run faster and reduces risk of injury.
While there is no replacement for running, cross-training has allowed me to mix up my workout routine. It also builds strength and flexibility in muscles that running doesn't utilize and helps prevents injury by correcting muscular imbalances. By cross-training, it has allowed me to become not only healthier, but become a more complete athlete.