What is cross training and how does it work?
"Cross training" simply means doing other sports other than your primary sport to get fit. Cyclists use cross training in the early winter to take a break but maintain fitness until they are ready to resume training again a month or two later.
For example, endurance cyclists who live in the Alps do cross-country skiing to be keep fit until well into January. Cross-country skiing is also an endurance sport and can prepare or 'condition' your body to a high level of general fitness before getting back to serious biking.How does it work?
When you take part in any endurance sport, your heart can't distinguish between sports. This is because the heart only understands 'how hard you are working' and can't tell what sport you're actually doing.
So, you can do just about any endurance sport and get "generally fit".However, your leg muscles on the other hand, need to adapt "specifically" to the sport you are doing. For example, if you do running, your muscles will adapt to running. But because you are running and not cycling, you'll find "cycling specific muscle fitness" will drop off considerably.
We can summarise then that cross training builds general fitness by doing different sports, but know that if you do different sports all the time, your specific cycling fitness will disappear.
Is doing cross training counter-intuitive?
The key to successful cross training is actually to keep a little cycling going because you don't want to lose ALL your good cycling fitness you've built up.Maintaining one or two rides a week is enough to keep your muscles adapted to cycling, whilst you build up 'general fitness' with your other endurance sports.
This is the key to successfully implementing cross training.But why bother doing cross training if I lose some cycling fitness?If you've done a full summer of cyclosportives or touring or just been on your bike continually all summer, then it is time for a mental break.Building up slowly like this by taking time out from year-round cycling, means you come back fit and revitalised ready to put more emphasis on your cycle training when you're ready. Ideally, you don't want to be one level of fitness all year round: you want to build up your fitness to a few peaks during the cycling summer season, not over Christmas!Moreover, cross training can help strengthen bones and muscles you don't use in cycling. For example, jogging, walking, hiking and gym work is weight bearing and can help strengthen your bones, warding off osteoporosis, something more cyclists should be aware of, especially women.
Some other examples of endurance sports you could consider are: cross country skiing, swimming, trail running, snow-shoeing, inline skating and rowing. Consider mountain biking if you've been out on the road all summer. You'll be submersed in nature, build good leg strength and be away from road traffic.
Know that there is a learning curve to these sports and you will have to start out slow whilst your body adapts to the new exercise.
The key take-home point here is that cross training allows you to be fully fit and revitalised over a few months when those who have been riding their bikes all winter will most likely be showing signs or tiredness and boredom. Rebecca Ramsay is a former professional road cyclist and a former multiple champion triathlete with 20 years of athletic experience in endurance sport. She is also a published author in national magazines in the UK, and runs her own cycling blog. Now retired and based in Scotland, Rebecca enjoys helping you reach your cycling fitness and training goals.
To read more cycling articles by Rebecca, please visit her cycling blog: http://easycycling.comArticle Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Rebecca_Ramsay