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February 17, 2013

CHRIS DAVIES: Incorporate cross training, technique drills into routine

TERRE HAUTE — As an athlete of any kind there are a few areas you may want to improve, but have not taken the time. Consider winter a time to improve your technique and recover from a hard season of training/racing. Cross training and technique drills are two great ways to improve performance in the off-season.

Cross training can be defined as some type of sports/fitness training outside of your normal routine. Cross training and technique drills are an excellent way to become a more efficient and better athlete, lose weight, or overcome a plateau in a training program.

An additional benefit of cross-training is strengthening muscles not normally used in your specific sport. Cross training promotes active recovery of primary muscles you rely on in your sport. In addition, it trains accessory muscles that usually assist in your performance. Cross training can also strengthen more of your overall musculature helping you reduce overall fatigue during competition.

There are two types of cross training: Non-impact cross training means your hands and or feet are not repetitively striking a surface, and impact-based cross training involves hand and or feet contact with a surface stressing the joints and bones. If you regularly participate in impact-based sports, such as running, basketball, or walking, you should consider non-impact cross training to give the bones and joints a rest.

Non-impact based cross-training suggestions: Deep water running/aerobics/swimming. Shallow water involves minimal impact. If you have joint issues strap on a floatation belt and go into deep water. Cycling, elliptical training, stair climbing (machine) also provide cardiovascular workout with no direct skeletal impact. Strength training is mostly non-impact but provides excellent bone strengthening qualities.

Impact-based cross training suggestions: Skipping rope, stair climbing-real stairs, running, walking, plyometrics.

Another excellent way to improve performance is practicing technique drills. Adding running or swimming drills to each workout with help you become a more efficient athlete. If you have seen an athlete who tends to fall-apart or lose focus late in competition, it’s likely he or she can benefit from technique drills. Don’t be concerned about losing any of your fitness base by adding drills because most drills are very labor intensive.

Swimming drills, for example Total Immersion, can encompass an entire workout. Perfecting your respective sports drills takes commitment, time, and focus. There is a saying that 99 percent correct is 100 percent wrong. When practicing drills and technique just starts to get sloppy you should move to the next drill, or recover with easy swimming. In no time, you’ll be swimming easier and likely faster than ever before.

Cycling and running drills can be located on various internet sites or through coaching. Having a qualified trainer assist with these is beneficial in learning and maintaining perfect technique through training.

One caveat when technique training: resist the urge to resume junk mileage and poor technique for the sake of looking bad or getting beat in the presence of training partners. Recruit them for drill training since misery loves company.

Cross training and technique drills can give your racing and fitness extra punch in the spring. Incorporate them into your routine and see for yourself why professional athletes embrace cross-training.

Chris Davies, MS, owns Fitness Solutions, Inc. He can be reached at Fitsolutions1@msn.com.

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