Cross Train to Boost Performance

July 1, 2011 | Featured in the Summer 2011 Issue

Must See Conditioning Videos

Cross training involves playing a different sport or participating in another kind of physical activity besides your usual workout. Such training gives the body and mind a break from your primary sport’s continuous and repetitive movement, while simultaneously enhancing performance skills. By playing another sport or performing exercises you don’t normally do, you engage different muscles and ultimately improve athleticism or some aspect of your performance, like strength, speed and quickness.

For instance, volleyball athletes may play basketball, runners may swim laps and football players may play rugby or soccer. The key is to choose a sport or activity you enjoy, but also one that enhances your primary sport’s performance or skill.

The following ideas can help get you started:

Conditioning: Pool work, swimming and racket sports
All are great substitutes for running and other “high impact” sports (e.g., basketball, football and hockey) and activities that pound on the joints. Whether you swim, run or perform other exercises in the water, you can improve your aerobic capacity through long swims or your anaerobic capacity through interval training. The Michael Johnson Performance Center uses Hydro Training (underwater resistance training) one to two times a week to help athletes actively recover between training days. Watch video and learn how Detroit Lions’ Ndamukong Suh Hydro Trains.

Racket sports—racquetball, tennis and pingpong—are good cross-training choices for athletes constantly throwing or engaging in overhead contact, particularly baseball and volleyball. Racket sports involve alternating activity and recovery, delivering conditioning benefits that baseball and volleyball players need. The overhead motion of the racket swing helps with shoulder mobility, strength and range-of-motion, while tracking the ball develops hand-eye coordination.

Flexibility: Pilates, yoga, dance, dynamic warm-up
These activities promote functional fitness, meaning the body moves as a whole instead of moving muscles separately. Such cross-training can enhance performance and reduce injury by improving flexibility in all joints. It also helps with strength, mobility and stability in certain parts of the body that your usual training doesn’t work, such as traditional Squats and Presses or other exercises where the body is supported by an external system (Bench Press or Leg Press Machine).

If you’re not already engaging in a dynamic warm-up before training, you need to start! Each sport requires specific movements, and many times the dynamic warm-up will include drills that prepare the body for those moves and for the sport. If you’ve been performing the same dynamic warm-up routine all season, the off-season is a great time to try new movements and drills and to focus on areas that need work.

Strength Training: Bands, balls and bodyweight
You don’t always have to head to the weight room for a great resistance-training workout. Bands, balls, bodyweight and other exercise gear add variety to any workout while forcing you to adjust to the new way the load (weight or resistance) stresses your body.

For an active recovery week, pick a different piece of equipment each day and use it in your workout:

Monday: Medicine Ball
Watch video of Indianapolis Colts QB Peyton Manning performing med ball core work to improve strength

Tuesday: Bands
Watch video of Pro Bowl receiver Terrell Owens discussing the benefits of resistance band training

Wednesday: Stability Ball
Watch video of Phoenix Suns PG Steve Nash using stability ball training to improve strength and power

Thursday: Bodyweight
Watch video of NFL All-Pro DE Dwight Freeney using his bodyweight to improve upper-body explosion and power

Friday: Suspension Training
Watch video of Oklahoma City Thunder G/F Kevin Durant using TRX Suspension Training to boost upper-body strength 

Adjust the exercises, the load and the volume, but have fun. You could see great improvement. You might even become sore in ways you’ve never experienced.

For a complete guide to alternative training methods, including exercises and equipment, go to Alternative Training Methods.

Speed and Agility: 
To get fast and quick, you must run fast and move at quick speeds. But, sports aren’t always played in a straight line or from one cone to the next. Add variety to your routine by playing games (check out the sections about sport-specific cross training below) and getting involved with other sports during the summer. You’ll maintain “fast feet” and still change up your activity.

Football Athletes: Hop in a pick-up game of soccer or touch game of rugby
•    Improves agility and conditioning
•    Enhances movement skills and teamwork

Related link: More cross training activities and games for football

Soccer Athletes: Organize a flag football game
•    Enhances ability to move around another player and body position
•    Improves speed work and interval-type conditioning
•    Develops agility and quickness

Related link: More cross training activities and games for soccer

Basketball Athletes: Play sand volleyball
•    Enhances jumping ability
•    Improves leg strength
•    Practices getting into a low athletic position, which transfers over to defense on the court
•    Develops lateral movement, by working to lift the feet through the hips

Related link: More cross training activities and games for basketball

Volleyball Athletes: Join a 3-on-3 basketball team
•    Builds explosive reaction time
•    Develops jumping power
•    Improves lateral moves

Related link: More cross training activities and games for volleyball

Baseball Athletes: Organize a dodgeball game to test your throwing form without a baseball
•    Improves throwing skills from a variety of positions
•    Builds shoulder strength and functional mobility by throwing a larger ball
•    Teaches you to move and react to the action around you

Related link: More cross training activities and games for baseball

 

Must See
Dwyane Wade Leads by Example Dwyane Wade Leads by Example
Views: 7,943,087
Why You Should Never Doubt Colin Kaepernick Why You Should Never Doubt Colin Kaepernick
Views: 24,436,943
Brandon Jennings: Brandon Jennings: "Always Improve"
Views: 5,477,346

Featured Videos

James Harden Resisted Euro-Step James Harden Resisted Euro-Step Views: 27,313
Real Workouts: Randall Cobb Real Workouts: Randall Cobb Views: 22,319
A Day in the Life With Kansas City Chiefs Tight End Travis Kelce A Day in the Life With Kansas City Chiefs Tight End Travis Kelce Views: 15,097
Load More

Resources

STACK Fitness

Everything you need to be fitter than ever

STACK Conditioning

Sport-specific conditioning programs

Coaches and Trainers

Tips and advice for coaches and trainers

Magazine

Latest issues of STACK Magazine

STACK 4W

Women's sports workout, nutrition and lifestyle advice

Gamer

Gaming, entertainment and tech news

Basic Training

Military-style training for athletes

News

Find the latest news relevant to athletes

Most Popular Videos

Dribbling Drills for Tighter Handles Dribbling Drills for Tighter Handles
Views: 4,332,865
Ohio State Football Open Field Plyo Drill Ohio State Football Open Field Plyo Drill
Views: 9,498,870
Drew Brees Will Not Be Denied Drew Brees Will Not Be Denied
Views: 11,269,514
Tobin Heath Closed-Space Dribbling Tobin Heath Closed-Space Dribbling
Views: 1,174,469
Colin Kaepernick's Core Workout Colin Kaepernick's Core Workout
Views: 890,413

Load More
More Cool Stuff You'll Like
High-Intensity Interval Training: How Much Is Too Much?

High-Intensity Interval Training: How Much Is Too Much?

ZSeries 10-Minute Workouts: Fartlek Run

ZSeries 10-Minute Workouts: Fartlek Run

STACK Challenge: 500-Meter Row

STACK Challenge: 500-Meter Row

Win the Fourth Quarter With These Basketball Sled Push Finishers

Win the Fourth Quarter With These Basketball Sled Push Finishers

Prepare for Your Season With These Conditioning Drills

Prepare for Your Season With These Conditioning Drills

Who Invented the Burpee?

Who Invented the Burpee?

5 Brutal Sprint Drills That Push the Lactic Threshold

5 Brutal Sprint Drills That Push the Lactic Threshold

Test Your Toughness With the Who Dat? Challenge

Test Your Toughness With the Who Dat? Challenge

LeBron James's Insane Conditioning Drill

LeBron James's Insane Conditioning Drill

Why Better Conditioned Athletes Have Fewer Injuries

Why Better Conditioned Athletes Have Fewer Injuries

Get in Shape With 5 Intense Lower-Body Finishers

Get in Shape With 5 Intense Lower-Body Finishers

Get in Shape Fast With Todd Durkin's 5 Intense Workout Finishers

Get in Shape Fast With Todd Durkin's 5 Intense Workout Finishers

How to Avoid Hockey Conditioning That Slows You Down

How to Avoid Hockey Conditioning That Slows You Down

ZSeries 10-Minute Workouts: Interval Sprints

ZSeries 10-Minute Workouts: Interval Sprints

LaTroy Hawkins' Epic Battle Ropes Workout

LaTroy Hawkins' Epic Battle Ropes Workout

How Sporting Kansas City Stays 'Sporting Fit'

How Sporting Kansas City Stays 'Sporting Fit'

How Much Conditioning Do You Really Need?

How Much Conditioning Do You Really Need?

ZSeries 10-Minute Workouts: The Hill

ZSeries 10-Minute Workouts: The Hill

Alternatives to Boring Cardio Training

Alternatives to Boring Cardio Training

Can You Survive the 100 Bears Challenge?

Can You Survive the

In Defense of Cardio

In Defense of Cardio

How to Build Soccer-Specific Conditioning

How to Build Soccer-Specific Conditioning

Can You Handle the Husker Toughness Test?

Can You Handle the Husker Toughness Test?

5 NBA Players Who Found Their Game After Losing Weight

5 NBA Players Who Found Their Game After Losing Weight

7 Footwork Drills That Give You an Advantage

7 Footwork Drills That Give You an Advantage

Understanding the Benefits and Risks of Altitude Training

Understanding the Benefits and Risks of Altitude Training

Advanced High School Football Summer Conditioning Program

Advanced High School Football Summer Conditioning Program

Can You Pass Drew Brees' Conditioning Test?

Can You Pass Drew Brees' Conditioning Test?

Get in Football Shape Fast With Metabolic Runs

Get in Football Shape Fast With Metabolic Runs

Baseball Conditioning: Why You Need an Aerobic Base

Baseball Conditioning: Why You Need an Aerobic Base

The Mount Everest Treadmill Challenge

The Mount Everest Treadmill Challenge

4 Simple Drills to Improve Your Endurance

4 Simple Drills to Improve Your Endurance

Obstacle Race Training: Get in Shape With This Finisher

Obstacle Race Training: Get in Shape With This Finisher

Improve Your Aerobic Fitness in the Off-Season

Improve Your Aerobic Fitness in the Off-Season

Off-Season Conditioning: Full-Body Med Ball Workout

Off-Season Conditioning: Full-Body Med Ball Workout

Get in Shape With This Basketball Conditioning Workout

Get in Shape With This Basketball Conditioning Workout

4 HIIT Workouts That Will Get You in Shape Fast

4 HIIT Workouts That Will Get You in Shape Fast

Training with the Elevation Training Mask 2.0

Training with the Elevation Training Mask 2.0

Get in Basketball Shape With the Right Workout

Get in Basketball Shape With the Right Workout

STACK Challenge: Finish Strong

STACK Challenge: Finish Strong

A Slo-Mo Must-See: Ike Taylor's 4-Man Battle Rope Squats

A Slo-Mo Must-See: Ike Taylor's 4-Man Battle Rope Squats

WATCH: Ronda Rousey's Intense New Bag Drill

WATCH: Ronda Rousey's Intense New Bag Drill

Adeline Gray Is Going for Gold

Adeline Gray Is Going for Gold

YardBarker