Nothing Wrong with Cross Training Even During the Heart of Racing Season


We’re in the middle of summer. It’s the heart of racing season, and you’re outdoors a lot running, cycling, or maybe swimming.

Given the focus on event prep – and the improved Colorado weather – should you keep your workouts to running, cycling, etc., or should you mix in cross-training?

We believe the answer is: Add in a little cross-training. You’ll get a mental break, potentially improve event performance, and give critical muscles a rest. Peak season cross-training ideas, from an informal poll of HealthStyles athletes, include:

  1. Train your core. Improved core strength benefits most activities – even more so if your core is a deficiency.
  2. Do yoga. Yoga adds strength, flexibility, and mental toughness.
  3. Use your upper body for cardio. Upper-body ergometers, rowers, and swimming all allow you to maintain or add endurance while giving your lower body a rest.
  4. Cross train to address deficiencies that cannot be easily addressed through more biking or more running. (More on this shortly.)
  5. Do whatever it takes to avoid mid-season burnout from too much on-the-bike or in-the-running-shoe training.

We’ll provide a little detail on each cross-training idea in the sections below.

How do you use your upper body for cardio? ROWING! Check out HealthStyles’ rowers here.

1. Train your core…

The core, the core. Core training is big. If you have particular issues with your core or back, it should be especially big for you.

For example, if you have issues with your lower back, then time and energy spent on core strengthening and flexibility in the short term can be well worth the time saved from injury in the long term. Also, if the strength workouts take place during time you would not have been able to ride or run, then it may be a great addition to your training.

Core Plank Exercise

2. Do yoga…

Studies have shown that yoga reduces stress, aids weight loss, eases pain, helps people stick to exercise routines, and even improves running times. Strength and flexibility developed on the mat – namely in the core, quads, hamstrings, and hip flexors – can help you run more efficiently and stay injury-free, according to Adam St. Pierre, a coach and exercise physiologist for the Boulder Center for Sports Medicine.

Additionally, holding challenging poses builds tenacity that’ll pay off on the road. Lauren Fleshman, a two-time national outdoor 5000-meter champion, started practicing yoga after breaking her foot in 2008. “Enduring an intense pose is a lot like enduring a long run or tempo run,” said Fleshman.

3. Use your upper body for cardio…

Your heart and cardiovascular system don’t care exactly what you do to get them in shape. Any exercise that causes an adaption response in these systems, whether in the gym or on the roads, will prepare you to some degree for a long-distance race. Cross-training enables you to get in some big cardio workouts without putting a lot of wear and tear on the body. As a result, it can help you build a cardio base more quickly and effectively than can be accomplished by running or cycling alone.

Runners, for sure, experience wear and tear. It’s not just the pounding that’s responsible for soreness; it’s also the unique nature of the movement. To explain, on landing, the knee on the supporting leg is extended and the hamstring muscles there are stretched. Although the hamstring muscles are not shortened at that point, they are nevertheless contracted. This contraction is an eccentric, or negative, contraction, and negative contractions result in greater micro-trauma to muscle tissue than usual.

In running, however, this added trauma can leave muscles more susceptible to injury. Some experts recommend managing that risk by limiting running to three targeted workouts per week. But this alone might not be enough to create that deep reservoir of endurance that we’ll need for a personal-record effort in a race. That’s where cardio cross-training comes in.

Rowing Machines

3. Cross train to address deficiencies that cannot be easily addressed through more biking or more running…

We mentioned core training – that is, that it is worthwhile to take time away from biking or running if your back or core is a weakness.

So, what else warrants time away from running or biking or whatever sport you’re specifically training for? During racing season, the list is short and includes:

a. Maintain bone health, if needed (weight-bearing exercise).
b. Rehabilitate from injury or physiological imbalance.
c. Address a specific muscular weakness.
d. And, for cyclists, increase short-duration (sprint) power, although this is somewhat debatable.

Lastly, if you strongly adhere to the principle of specificity in training, as a general practice, for every weight or cross-training workout you plan, subtract that time and energy from what you will have available to spend biking or running. If you run/bike far less during the core racing season as a result of strength training, reconsider how much cross training you do.

Save time by cross training at home! HealthStyles has economical home gym systems.

5. Do whatever it takes to avoid mid-season burnout from too much on-the-bike or in-the-running-shoe training…

Cross-training’s purpose within your mental game is, generally speaking, to add motivation for the upcoming season or prevent mid-season burnout. For example, by mid-summer cyclists have logged many hours on a bike (with a racing season that started in March and ends in September) and can be struggling to stay focused and goal-driven. Adding variety can help them, and you, avoid mid-season burnout.

Pre-Powder Power: Ski Season Training


We all know that après ski activities consist of sipping hot chocolate next to a roaring fire in a Navajo-print jacket, but what about avant (before) ski activities?

Downhill skiing and snowboarding are physically demanding sports and as Coloradoans we all know the best conditions occur at high elevations (less oxygen) and in cold temperatures. It’s also a fun and great way to get your heart rate up during those winter months.

But whether you are a Blue Circle bunny or a Double Black Diamond expert you may want to do some ‘pre-season training’ to prepare before you hit the slopes, focusing on these tips from the experts at Life Fitness:

Optimize your cardiovascular strength so you can schuss all day. Higher elevations and cold weather put extra strain on your lungs, so do some interval training on a treadmill or elliptical machine to challenge your heart rate and improve your oxygen intake capacity. Begin with at least 3 days a week for a half hour and increase the time, frequency and intensity over time so you are in prime condition to conquer the mountain.

Core strength is key for skiing. A tight, stable core allows you to control your movements with more precision. Simple exercises such as bicycles on the floor, back extensions and full body roll ups or crunches on an exercise ball will benefit your core and therefore your skiing abilities.

All Carvaholics know where to find their CM (that’s ski slang for Center of Mass). Improve reaction time and agility by taking advantage of the balance-training aids available at the health club or for the home, such as a Bosu ball. Begin by balancing on one foot and progress up to balancing on the Bosu ball itself. Take it a step further and try squats and plyometric drills on the Bosu ball.

Yoga not only keeps you limber but improves your mental focus and breathing techniques. Yoga can help protect against injury by addressing muscle imbalances and improving flexibility, so try out a beginner-level class and work your way up. The positive influences that yoga can have on your skiing (and other athletic activities) may surprise you.

Fit Tips are provided by Life Fitness, the leader in designing and manufacturing high-quality exercise equipment for fitness facilities and homes worldwide. For more information on Fit Tips and other fitness advice and expertise visit or follow us on Twitter at or join our Facebook fan page at

Stress-Busting Workouts


Exercise is the perfect remedy to alleviate stress. It can release built-up tension, stress and any frustrations about your day. Exercise also provides you with endorphins, which can boost your mood. Plus, the social aspects of exercise, interacting with friends at the gym and building camaraderie through small group workouts, can reduce stress and promote your overall sense of wellbeing. The more you enjoy the exercise you are doing, the less stressed you will feel. We suggest checking out these stress-busting options.

Train like a boxer.

Boxing workouts are intense because they incorporate both high-intensity cardio and muscle building. It’s a great stress release but proper form is key for safety so getting good instruction is important. You can also try small group workouts that incorporate boxing, like a personal trainer-led Synrgy360 class. You might find yourself using movements like jabs, hooks, uppercuts, and kicks to get your heart rate up. Because a trainer guides eight or so people through each class, you’re more likely to learn proper form. Not only can it release your inner aggression, but it can also teach you some good self-defense moves.

Try a new way to cycle.

Indoor cycling can burn more than 500 calories along with loads of stress. The combination of tension on the flywheel, pedal speed (cadence), and breathing creates the perfect setting for endorphin release. Find a challenging DVD or an instructor that plays music you like and motivates you and it can be an hour of stress busting bliss.

Do Yoga.

The combination of deep breathing, thoughtful movements and melodic music can change your mood in seconds and help relieve pent up stress. If you are new to yoga, try out a beginner class and ease into the poses. There is no perfection in yoga, only progress. Yoga is the perfect complement to any other form of exercise or as your mind/body therapy for the week.

Fit Tips are provided by Life Fitness, the leader in designing and manufacturing high-quality exercise equipment for fitness facilities and homes worldwide. For more information on Fit Tips and other fitness advice and expertise visit or follow us on Twitter at or join our Facebook fan page

Give the Gift of Fitness!


Are you looking for ideas for unique Christmas gifts?

HealthStyles Exercise Equipment has some great gifts for fitness enthusiasts in all price ranges!

Whether your gift is for an avid runner, a Cross-Fit or P90X junkie, or a friend or loved on who is trying to firm up or lose weight, here are just a few of the many possible gifts you can put under the tree for those important people in your life.

Fitness Accessories Expand Your Workout Routine


The use of fitness accessories to expand and enhance your cardiovascular and strength routines have never been more popular than they are today as is obvious by the number of equipment manufacturers that are getting into the fitness accessory game. Life Fitness, one of the major cardiovascular equipment manufacturers, is set to roll out Body Shape Kits this fall, which combine many of the most popular accessories sold by HealthStyles Exercise Equipment, into one all inclusive kit. Octane Fitness will combine an elliptical workout with stretch bands in the programming and design of their new ellipticals to be introduced later this Fall, to create circuit training workouts that add strength training to the traditional cardio workout. Continue reading