There are so many ways to train. So many styles and patents, companies and individuals with amazing ways to train. I want to give you some balanced ways to approach strengthening. I don’t have to promote anything, just that you train in multiple ways, because that’s what the body needs.
What is cross training? Does it imply you ruggedly go for hikes in the mountains, and do a bit of parkour? Not that these activities cant be cross training for someone. They can be. Cross training is just mixing your training to strengthen different components of your goals. The Royal Ballet in London at one stage had strength trainers from Europe doing power training, burst, high load work, and saw reduction in injuries, stronger happier dancers as a result. This might sound a little thing but when dancing all day, and doing only Pilates was the normal, I think its important to have different training in their week. So if you need faster, high force in your sport or performance, you should have strength training in there.
I see it like this. It is good to mix loading, and have functional strength work say HIT training, functional movements, strength training, some lower impact work like Pilates or yoga (where you might challenge your balance and coordination also), something involving sustaining heart rate for a prolonged time (cardiovascular training). I would suggest give more focus to the start of this list strength training and functional training has better effect on muscle development, bone health and is part of cardiovascular health also. So gone are the days it is all cardio!
Cross training can be training in a different sport too. This is so useful in younger dancers and sportspeople. It sounds stressful to do other sports when dance, gymnastics can be all consuming. But think of it. You might learn horse riding, cycling, surf lifesaving, swimming. It isn’t just that it is a different muscular load, but its a different environment, possibly having sun in your face, wind in your hair. If you are a high level performer there is some research showing having a ‘fun’ side sport reduces stress, improves your performance in your skill.
So you go to the gym, or workout at home, and you have a good routine. But how about exploring working at the end of your range of motion. The example might be you do a standing row with weights and a cable. Or using a firm theraband. Have you taken that up in the air a bit? So your elbows and hands are at shoulder height? Even a step further to high row like this and then keep elbows still and rotate so your hands are up above your head. Granted you need a lower resistance, lower weight. But to change it up, and benefit your strength work into your range. Please be careful deepening exercises just because I say go further, you really need to lower your weight. We are more than happy to guide you in this too.
If you bang our your reps and feel youre getting better and better, maybe a bit bored. The point of doing a strength exercise is for muscle fatigue, and the purpose is to hypertrophy so you build strength. No I didnt say mass or size! That will happen but the point is to reach physiological fatigue. So the principle of Time under Tension is useful to think of, not just 8-12 repetitions. This is because however quick your repetitions of an exercise you need 40 seconds to achieve the physiological processes necessary. 12 repetitions at a pace of 1 second per repetition, is under 20 seconds. You don’t get the goods! Slow it down. COntrol that movement to lift for 2-3 seconds and return slow. Do your 8-12 repetitions and use TIME as your guide.
A great principle might be less about number of repetitions and more very slow but high load. If you hit good form, slow repetitions, hitting the muscle group you want, you still are gaining great strength goals. Such different ideas but so useful because it works. More about this principle from my colleagues in another blog soon!
There is a lot of people doing fast repetition training. All high intensity training has potential to lose form, to create movement. Now we don’t need to be robotic, beautifully sequenced all the time, and I don’t like exercise forms that get us into our heads too much. But I suggest in your week there is some time put into slower strength work where you have concentrated time on your form. And this can ‘leak’ into your other training.