Some people get so into the one sport they are doing that they neglect many other area that need to be worked on. If you do not know what cross training is then it is time you learn and incorporate it.
What is Cross Training?
Cross training is exactly what it sounds like. It is when you are training multiple in sports or disciplines.
Why Should You Cross Train?
#1 To avoid injury
To avoid injury due to over use of the specific muscles used in your sport or activity of choice.
#2 To train your muscles in multiple ways.
When you are doing one sport, some muscles can become neglected or not trained in the full spectrum range of motion that it is capable of. By cross training you make your body stronger.
#3 To give your body a break while staying active
When you cross train, it gives you the ability to give your body the break it needs from the activity you are doing without having to stop training all together.
#4 To recover from injury
If you do have an injury, you can find a different workout to do so at least you are not losing all the progress you have made. For example if you are a runner and sprain your ankle then swimming will at least keep your cardiovascular system strong, and weight training will keep your muscles strong.
#5 To keep from burn out
It helps give you a mental break. Yes, some people just like to do the same activity everyday, but it can help to have a day away from it, it can help you keep the passion and zest for your sport longer without burning out.
Is There a Specific Way To Do It?
It is best to cross train with a sport that will work different muscles and at the same time if possible strengthen you for your chosen sport. So if cycling is your chosen sport then hitting the Elliptical on your off day would probably not be the best choice. You should also cross train with weight training and yoga, or some other flexibility training . The weight training will help you strengthen up making you stronger overall. You may think the bulk of stronger muscles will slow you down, but really they will give you the extra strength to push harder in your sport. If you have done any cycling you know how important good leg muscles are to hill climbing. Yoga can be good since it will stretch all of your tight muscles back out, which can be helpful in injury prevention, as well as better mobility in your sport.
Always Do All Three!
No matter what sport you are doing, you should always have the elements of weight training, flexibility training, and cardiovascular training in your routine. So if weight training is your sport then add in some cardio and stretching. If running is your sport do some weight lifting and yoga.
You Still Need A Rest Day.
Just because you are cross training does not mean that you should not take a day or two off of exercise completely. Your body does still need time to repair and recuperate. When you continue push your body beyond it's limits you will eventually have an injury. If you enjoy what you are doing, then give your body the rest it needs so that you will not have to take an extended period of time off. You will know that you are over working yourself when you are tired a lot and muscles soreness will not go away. If you are having these issues then you need to start giving your body a break more often, because once you have reached these outward signs your body has gone past the point it should have.
If you have never done cross training before then test it out. This just may be what you need to get the leg up in your sport and fire the passion back up with your fitness.