The Best Cross Training for Runners is Not What You Might Think
We all know that cross training is a super important but often under utilized part of an ideal training plan. It gives your body a break from the stress of running and helps you stay strong and hopefully injury free. But if you've been hitting the pool, or even racking up time in the weight room — you may be missing out on one of the best cross training workouts of all. Barre.
Yes Barre —the ballet inspired workout that's full of pulses, plies, and makes your booty burn — is the secret weapon to your next PR. If you think I'm talking crazy - keep reading for my top 5 reasons why Barre is the ultimate cross training for runners.
[Speaking of Barre — check out my list of the Baltimore's best barre studios over at Fitt.co]
1. Low Impact. Unlike running, Barre is extremely low impact. Most of the moves are done standing, kneeling or laying on the back. This makes it the perfect compliment to running. Not only does this give your hips and knees a break while increasing your strength, but it's easier to mix into a training schedule.
2. Isolation and activation. One thing most runners struggle with is muscle isolation — whether that be glutes, quads, hip flexors or core. And it's not a surprise, running is not a movement pattern that requires only one muscle to work at a time. Your strongest muscles will take over and do most of the work. When it comes time to do strength training, your body isn't yet conditioned to use those weaker muscles. The unique positions that barre requires you to get into will automatically isolate and activate muscles like glutes, hips and core helping you gain more strength in those areas that will help you improve your running.
3. Unilateral movement. Another thing that is key to running is strength to hold up one side of the body. When you're running you never have two feet planted on the floor - so you need a strength routine that mimics this idea. A lot of the "seat" or booty work that is done in barre is one side of the body at a time really targeting those stabilizing muscles.
4. Helps you become more body aware. As you get into the different positions and start to feel the activation you become more aware of how everything is connected in the body. After only a few weeks of attending Barre regularly, I could already feel improvements in posture.
5. Time commitment is low. One day a week is enough to start seeing results — seriously. If you choose a class that is low on the cardio you'll find you may not even sweat which means it's perfect to squeeze in on your lunch break.
Now I get it — it's hard enough to find time to get the miles in, never mind adding yet another thing to the long to-do list. But I'm telling you, this will be worth it.
So let me know — have you tried barre or would you be willing to try it if it helped your running?