Most of us know how dominant Venus Williams and Novak Djokovic are on the tennis court. Few of us would want to face off against Lebron James on the basketball court, and hardly any of us could hang with Katie Ledecky in the pool. While these phenomenal athletes excel in different sports, they do share one interesting thing: They all cross train.
While most of us don't have a career or lifestyle that requires professional-level athletic training, there are some important things we can learn from the pros to cross train properly. As professionals in their field, they understand the importance of building a foundation of physical stamina and endurance to help improve their overall athleticism, and cross training definitely helps them achieve those ends. Below are some key cross training exercises to build your endurance for practically any sport you want to play.
1. Swimming - This low-impact exercise is perfect for preserving joints, while still managing to work practically every muscle in your body. As your muscles push against the constant resistance of the water, they're forced to expend more oxygen to move your body, not to mention the workout you give your lungs when you get into a good breathing rhythm during laps. These factors will work together to build your endurance.
2. Strength Training - Strong muscles can withstand the rigors of lengthy exercise far better than weak ones. Some of the most effective strength training exercises are those that involve using your own body weight (e.g., push-ups, burpees, squats, etc.), but working out with machines or free weights is definitely beneficial as well. When cross training, try to focus on exercises (such as those mentioned above) that work large muscle groups, so your overall strength will improve.
3. Yoga - No matter what type of physical activity you engage in the most (e.g., tennis, cycling, running, etc.), you'll likely find yourself in a "rut" in terms of your movement. For example, with cycling, it's customary to stay crouched over your bike for long periods of time. With running, the somewhat monotonous motion tends to keep your hip flexors tight.
Yoga is the perfect complement to these types of activities, because it can act as an effective counterbalance that will loosen and open up your muscles, relieving stiffness and improving flexibility. Not only that, but practicing yoga will teach you how to manage your breathing during exertion, which is a key to improving your endurance. Five Seasons Family Sports Club offers highly effective yoga classes that can help you relieve stress and tension while also building your endurance and stamina.
4. Plyometrics - The term sounds fancy enough, but it's actually really simple: Plyometrics are any kind of exercise that involves explosive movements, such as burpees, jump squats or medicine ball throws. A typical plyometric exercise starts with an eccentric muscle movement (i.e., the muscles lengthen), followed immediately by a concentric movement (i.e., the muscles shorten). This enables your muscles to produce "short-burst" power with greater efficiency, which means that you won't sap as much energy from your endurance reserves.
While the demands of each athlete's sport will differ, you can use the above exercises to build a solid foundation for your overall athleticism. Try adding the above cross training elements to your regimen, and see how much of a positive impact it will make on your endurance!