Cross-training. To me, cross-training almost sounds like a dirty word. Why do I need to do other exercises or other activities when all that I want to do is excel in roller derby? Why would I build on other muscles when I should really be working on skating, conditioning so that I can make it around the track so many times in so many minutes? Well I’m here to tell you that there are so many benefits to cross-training for any athlete especially for the roller derby athlete.
If you want to excel in Roller Derby, or for any sport, it is super important for any athlete to cross-train. Cross-training is just a fancy way of saying switch it up! It involves several different forms of exercise and is very important because different activities use muscles in slightly different ways. Cross-training improves fitness, reduces possibility for injury, it will strengthen your heart, bones, and joints, creates a total body work-out, reduces body fat, but more importantly it conditions different muscle groups and helps develop muscles that are not often used in your regular routine. Not only does this create a new set of skills, it improves your skills while improving agility and balance which are key for any Roller Derby athlete.
Doing the same exercises in your normal work-out routine will create a plateau in improvement for your body. When you are doing the same movements day in and day out your body becomes used to those movements and exercises and becomes extremely efficient at them. Keep in mind this is great for competition but it limits your overall fitness and reduces actual fitness not letting you improve but keeping you on a plateau of your skill set and keeps you at a certain fitness level. Cross-training will push you beyond your plateau and help you improve on overall fitness and strength. You may be in great shape, for the sort of exercise you do routinely, but if that is all you do you may be setting yourself up for injury or burning yourself out on your regular routine as well.
Not only does cross-training have amazing benefits, it also reduces boredom! Boredom Is one of the top excuses for not sticking with an exercise program or for not exercising at all. Change your routine on a regular basis or tailor it to your needs and interests but keep it fun! Enjoy your work-outs and try new things you normally wouldn’t to get away from the boring norm, because it is so easy to fall into the same routine day in and day out. Cross-training reduces boredom for routine exercise but more importantly it conditions different muscle groups and helps develop muscles that are not often used in your regular work-out routine creating new sets of skills.
Great cross-training cardiovascular exercises include: running, swimming, cycling, rowing, stair climbing, rope jumping, skating outdoors, ice-skating, skiing, and any court sports like racquetball or basketball. Really anything that gets your heart pumping is great. Speed walking is one of my favorites and actually works you harder than jogging if you stay at a set pace. For strength make sure you are doing push-ups, pull-ups, crunches, free weights, or any type of weighted work-out machines on a regular basis. Along with that, women do not be afraid of bulking up, because women have such low testosterone levels this is very hard to do and don’t be afraid if you are gaining some weight if you strength train often, it is most likely because you are turning your jiggly parts to muscle and muscle mass weighs more than fat! For flexibility try stretching or yoga, also throw in some speed, agility, and balance drills and other forms of skill conditioning. For best results work-out for up to 30 minutes a day and alternate cross-training exercises in order to let your muscles rest or recover. Remember any exercise is better than no exercise. If you want to see over-all improvements on your health, fitness, and overall performance in anything you do cross-training is a must!
So all in all, if you are an athlete from any walk of life remember that there are ways you can become better at what you do, don’t let yourself get in a rut, cross-train, and push yourself. Commit to making yourself the best that you can be, not only in competition but for your body and health, your body is the best instrument you will ever have so treat it right and use it in every way that you can!
Oh yeah, don’t forget… Water is your friend!! Drink it!