Some people say that triathletes are the ultimate cross-trainers, what with our three sports rolled into one. In fact, many successful triathletes started out as swimmers or runners who discovered their love for triathlon while cross-training for their single sport. It is also true, however, that triathletes can still benefit from additional cross-training in a few critical ways.
First – and most important – is strength training. We encourage our athletes to incorporate consistent strength training in order to strengthen the accessory muscles not trained during triathlon workouts. This has several benefits, including increasing power, training the entire body and injury prevention. Triathletes spend hours and hours (and hours) training to get faster, and adding strength training can help achieve that.
Additionally, adding other types of cross-training can help “keep things fresh” versus doing the same thing over and over. Triathletes often train year-round with limited time off. This lack of recovery exposes athletes to overuse injuries, boredom and burnout. Studies show that many people stop participating in sports and exercise because they become bored or burned out. Incorporating other sports into your training schedule may help avoid this and can make you a more well-rounded athlete.
Whether it’s snow skiing, gravel riding, obstacle course racing, boxing, golf, martial arts, pickle ball… give something new a try! Participating in different sports during your time away from triathlon will help maintain overall fitness while recovering from the constant workload triathletes are subjected to. Many other sports use different muscles than the three different sports we compete in do, which can distribute the stress more evenly to your bones and muscles and develop more balanced fitness.
Another upside to cross-training? It’s fun! Participating in other sports allows you to interact with a different group of people, as well as different coaches and instructors. This can allow you to meet new friends, gain the support of other athletes, and share your athletic experience with others. Additionally, working with different coaches gives you the opportunity to learn from more people who have different backgrounds and perspectives. In the long run, that can benefit you as a person and as an athlete.