Cross-training is the incorporation of exercises from one sport into
the training regimen of another, as defined by active.com writer Jessica Pall. The extent of its benefits vary for every sport, yet all athletes can embrace the benefits of cross-training.
Pall additionally stated that athletes can find better “muscle variance
and cardiovascular fitness” through cross-training. Allowing for a variation of exercises can protect overworked muscles from injury. Moreover, variety spares athletes from the boredom of doing the same workouts over and over again.
“Most of our athletes enjoy having some exercises that allow them to get out of the pool,” graduate assistant for Olivet’s swim team Samantha Elam said.
Swimmers under Coach Teeters utilize cross-training on a daily basis. Elam said, “We use almost every exercise you can image, hoping to build strength in every part of the body.” Monday, Wednesday and Friday, swimmers are given the option of running. The goal is to produce a more powerful kick, Elam said.
Livestrong.com said swimmers use running to build up their anaerobic thresholds, which is the point when an athlete’s body realizes its need to slow down and recover. In short, running results in better power for kicks and heightened endurance.
Tuesday and Thursday, Elam said, consists of a wide variety of exercises. Options include Olympic lifting for the men, a pulling system and circuit training in Birchard. The idea is to target different muscles, each of which serve a unique purpose for swimmers.
Swimming World Magazine suggested boxing and weight lifting as a way to improve upper-body strength, aiding swimmers’ arms as they drive themselves forwards.
Olivet’s track and cross-country teams presently utilize cross-training at a lower level than the swim team. Ale Zamudio, a freshman on the cross-country team, noted that cross-training is most often put to use when a runner is recuperating from an injury.
After suffering from a sprained ankle in past years, Zamudio used cross-training exercises such as biking and swimming to take weight off of her injury. All the while, she was still building up strength and staying active. “It’s not a normal part of training,” Zamudio explained. “Most of the time, you just show up and start running.”
Junior Sarah Ganster is a duo track and cross-country athlete and is in Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC). As a result, Ganster uses
cross-training on both ends. The cardio built from running has helped her during ROTC training regimen and competitions, such as Ranger Challenge and Ranger Buddy. ROTC, in turn, improves her running by building up her strength.
From here, the question of intramurals can be bought to light. If it is possible for athletes to find strength, muscle variance, and boredom relief through cross-training, should sports teams repeal the frequent bans on intramural activities?
From a coach’s perspective, Elam said intramurals are discouraged due to heightened risk of injury and already demanding schedule. From the running side, Ganster agreed, stating that the team has a ban on basketball specifically due to risk factors. ROTC cadets, on the other hand, are encouraged to keep active with through a variety of intramural sports.
While not all Olivet sports teams have fully adopted cross-training into their training routines, the undiscovered possibilities are vast. Maybe the next swim practice won’t happen in the pool, but on the climbing wall instead.