Remember back a few weeks ago when my dear friend Akeem was featured in my very first Q&A post “Just One Rep at a Time”? Well, to recap- Akeem is really focused and developing his weight lifting. And what does that mean? As he put it, “Take it in the simplest of terms, I go to the gym and I push/pull weights in a way that’s smart and allows my body to progress in strength and physique. Not just physically, but mentally as well.”
Akeem and I keep in touch pretty well (text, social media, etc) and the other day I got this email from him:
“Oh my gosh, so I’m working out this morning and all I can think about is all of the benefits of cross training and how they are integral in the improvement of lifting in general. Flexibility helps with mobility and posture which in turn allows you to complete the movements with proper form and stress on the correct body parts. And that’s just flexibility! I still come home at nights and if I’m feeling tight in the hips or the legs I sit on the floor and do the dance stretches we were taught so many years ago in High School, and that definitely aids in recovery and allowing the muscles to grow to their best capacity. I don’t think I can stress enough how important cross training is, LOL!”
I had to share this because 1) I didn’t ask him to send it, it came to my inbox un-provoked (haha) and 2) It stresses something I find to crucial to my fitness and lifestyle but hard to explain- the importance and benefits of cross training!
I work in fitness (at a Yoga and Pilates studio) and I don’t know how many people cancel their memberships because “Well, I’m training for the New York Marathon and I’m just running all the time, so I really don’t have time for anything else, like my yoga.” That’s great and all, and believe me I know it’s hard to train for a race balancing work, sleep, food, social time, and cross training… but it’s so darn important!
I can talk from experience; you can run all day long but if you are not stretching and toning and rolling and strengthening and resting… you are gonna hurt yourself and it’s gonna be bad. (I don’t say that to scare anyone or turn them away from running distance, but to encourage them to add in additional strength training and stretching).
Cross training gives your body a chance to reset, to center, to balance out, and to focus. I love working on hip and ankle stability, cause it’s something I struggle with. Having a strong core aids in lifting the bones and joints- putting the work in the muscles so they can do their job and you run lighter with more ease.
However, it’s important to know that not all athletes will benefit from the same type of cross training. For example, Akeem lifts weights- that’s his focus and he will work his body in the best way to benefit that… running is part of his cross training. Then look at me, I train my body to run long distance- I weight train as a cross training means. We are literally the inverse because our goals are different. What works for one may not… will not… work for all!
Yes, to much of a good thing can be a bad thing… I started doing a LOT more yoga after my last half marathon, and it really over strained something in my shoulder, which of course made me stop everything until that recovered. But I encourage all of my readers and viewers who are active, to add in something new this month. We just celebrated Global Running Day… so if you are a runner, add something to your workout plan. If you are a yogi, add in some log impact cardio. Whatever you choose to do, see if your body doesn’t feel different (lighter, stronger, more pain free) and go from there.
Whatever you do, have fun and be safe!
Also, HAPPY BELATED BIRTHDAY AKEEM!!!