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8 cross-training activities that don’t suck

Cross country skiing

Say the words cross-training and most runners’ faces will instantly contort into an expression of disgust. When runners think of cross-training they think of injuries, and this has generated a negative connotation for cross-training.

But in reality, cross-training provides huge benefits for runners, injured or not. Cross-training helps runners to become more rounded athletes and gain more muscle strength. Improved muscle strength then allows athletes to develop more power and reduces injury risk.

Check out these cross-training exercises to improve your cardio, strengthen your muscles, or help speed your recovery.

  1. Aqua Jogging
    Take your running to the pool and mimic exactly what you would be doing sans any impact. It’s suggested you wear a proper aqua-jogging belt as that can help ensure you maintain proper form. There can be a tendency to lean too far forward, which is incorrect. Aim to keep your torso and hips all stacked upright and cycle your legs directly beneath.
  2. Elliptical
    Another motion similar to the running stride, the differences between machines can result in a feeling of a shortened stride. Ideally you’d like for the stride to feel natural; adjust the tension level and incline to tailor the workout to the proper effort level. The ElliptiGo takes you outdoors.
  3. Biking
    The bike is perfect for doing short intervals, blasting 30-60-second intervals will jack your heart rate up and really work on building leg strength. Increased strength and power means getting faster. It’s imperative, however, that you make sure the seat is properly adjusted to avoid other injuries.
  4. Cross-country skiing
    Cross-country skiing works similar muscle groups to running, in addition to being a killer aerobic workout. Cross-country skiing helps runners improve balance, ankle strength and flexibility.
  5. Yoga
    Runners can benefit greatly from yoga’s effects on strength, flexibility and balance. Many of the problems runners face, including sore knees, tight hamstrings and lower back pain, can be resolved by practicing yoga asanas.  In addition, restorative poses can help runners recover faster after long races and hard workouts.
  6. Barre class
    The ideal goal of barre is to work on obtaining and maintaining a strong, well-balanced core, which is an important part of running.
  7. Soccer
    Playing soccer provides an interval-type workout because you are slowing down and speeding up. You have a lot of side-to-side activity, which is going to strengthen lots of muscle groups, including hip muscles.
  8. Downhill skiing
    A couple of hours of downhill skiing can significantly help with quad strength. In addition, going downhill helps with posture and stability.
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