Cross-training refers to training in any sport or activity that isn’t in your usual practice, with the goal of improving performance. Cross-training can help you work on other muscle groups while also strengthening the ones that you use for martial arts. In combining methods from different activities, you can benefit from a very productive workout and improve your athleticism.
Here’s why cross-training is important for martial arts.
Train New Muscles and Strengthen your Body
If you’ve been practicing your martial art of choice for a long time, you could be only training a very specific set of muscles. Over time, your body will acclimate to repetitive exercises and potentially bring out small imbalances. In order to challenge your body and balance out any bad habits you’ve acquired over the years, you should mix up your workout routine by incorporating other forms of exercise.
This won’t only help you train new sets of muscles but also strengthen your body overall. Through strengthening other parts of your body that you may have previously neglected—such as your core or back muscles—you can help reduce your risk of injury. With that said, be sure not to overwork your body and ensure that you are giving yourself plenty of rest.
Study Other Forms of Martial Arts
In practicing multiple types of martial arts, you can achieve a new and more complete perspective of your usual martial arts practice. Many famous martial artists – such as Bruce Lee – practiced several disciplines to become masters at their craft. Through drawing experiences and knowledge from a variety of martial arts, Bruce Lee even created the art of Jeet Kune Do. While you may not end up creating a new type of martial art, practicing different types of martial arts can help you perfect certain techniques and perform better in competitions.
Improve your Practice
By gaining further perspective of your body and taking a step back from your normal routines, cross-training can help you improve your practice. Through becoming a better overall athlete, you will feel stronger and more confident on the mats. In trying out other activities, you may find yourself appreciating the nuances within your usual martial arts practice more, while feeling more motivated.
Maintain a Healthy Lifestyle
While martial arts can be very physically challenging and carries many benefits, you may still want to incorporate other forms of exercise to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Through engaging in other activities such as swimming, yoga, or cycling, you can stay active throughout the week and in between martial arts training, while also creating a more athletic body. Swimming, for example, is a terrific form of exercise that can help improve your back, core, upper-body, and lower-body strength, and is also low-impact.