Why Should You Crosstrain?
Crosstraining is the use of another sport (or sports) to enhance training in one's primary sport, tennis in this case.
Crosstraining builds your "non-tennis" muscles, rests your "tennis" muscles while maintaining (or gaining) cardiovascular
fitness, and provides balance to your muscle groups.
Who Can Benefit from Crosstraining?
Almost every player can benefit, in some way, from crosstraining.
As mentioned before, crosstraining can be useful to just about any player.
What Counts as Crosstraining?
A lot of activities count as crosstraining for tennis players. Here is a list of some
(but certainly not all):
- Strength (or Weight) Training
- Cross-Country Skiing
- Water Jogging
- Race Walking
- Fitness Walking
- Other Sports
Swimming focuses on the upper body and general conditioning. It can help you relax and recover after long or hard
workouts. Swimming provides an aerobic workout without being a weight-bearing exercise.
Rowing also focuses on the upper body, as well as the abdomen. This can be useful for players who have played
for years and are interested in both learning a new sport and balancing their upper body and core area with the strength they
have earned in their legs. Kayaking and canoeing are also great alternatives for rowing.
Strength training can focus on keeping your legs strong during an injury or on strengthening unbalanced muscle groups
(either upper body or the front of the leg, wherever you need). (Strength training is doing exercise that use your own weight
for resistance (like pushups), whereas weight training is using weights for resistance (like bicep curls with hand weights).
Yoga can be used in much the same way as strength training, since some poses use your body weight as resistance
to strengthen your muscles. For example, "downward dog" pose strengthens your upper body through this means of resistance,
while it also stretches and lengthens your spine, hips, and hamstrings. So, not only can yoga be used as a complete body strength
training routine, it also is useful for stretching and conditioning all your "running" muscles. It can also be a nice way
to relax from a long run or a hard day at work.
Cross-country skiing is another great complete body workout. It incorporates upper body, lower body, and core strengthening
with an aerobic workout, and, if done in the snow instead of the gym, it can be a great way to connect with nature and prevent
boredom. It can also be an alternative to running in the snow if you live in or are visiting a snowing climate.
Skating, whether roller/inline or ice, can be a good alternative to running as well. It works the lower body in much
the same way, but also uses the "sideways" muscles that tennis players especially need to work.
Water jogging is a wonderful alternative for hot weather or injured runners. It requires the use, if done correctly,
of all your running muscles, but, since you are in the water, it is no-impact and cool.I replace half of my normal runs with
water jogging. I even do my sprints and speed work in the water.
Biking and spinning do focus on the lower body, but not necessarily on the "running" muscles. Adding biking,
whether cycling, spinning, or mountain biking is your favorite, into your routine can add interest, maintain (or gain) cardiovascular
fitness, and balance out the muscles in your leg by working the quadricep and shin muscles. (I suggest mountain biking for
the adventurous! Also by adding mountain biking and kayaking into your routine, you've open yourself up to a new sport, Adventure
Racing! Or, add cycling and swimming and become a triathlete!)
Elliptical machines at the gym or in your home offer an alternative for nasty weather or for injured runners who
can still run, but need no-impact. Stair-steppers are good for this too, but may build up your "running" muscles too quickly
without building your "non-running" muscles fast enough. If you crosstrain using an elliptical machine, you should spend at
least 1/4 of the time you workout going backwards (running backwards) to work the front of the leg.
Race walking and fitness walking also work your "running" muscles without as much impact. Most often these
workouts are used as alternatives to running, not as extra days, since they work a lot of the same muscles. Don't think though
that since you can run 10 miles, you can walk 10 miles (especially walk 10 miles fast) because the activities do use different
muscles. Your bum and hips may find that after 10 miles of 15 min/mi walking they are in quite a bit of pain. So, ease into
it at first.