Cross-training = Best Training

If you’re familiar with the term “cross-training” you probably associate it with CrossFit (NO!) or, hopefully, understand it as something like “training in one activity to complement a different activity.” It’s long been known that, because any sport or activity will have “blind spots” in terms of which movement patterns it favors and, thus, what neuromuscular tissues are over- vs. underdeveloped, it’s wise to frequently incorporate new patterns from other activities into one’s training regimen in order to “fill in the gaps,” increasing overall performance in the main activity.

Here’s Rocky chasing a chicken.

Chicken = Greased Lightning > Apollo

It may not be obvious how “catch chicken” = “defeat Apollo” until you consider the biomechanical objective Rocky’s trainer, Mickey, is aiming at, namely speed. Apollo is fast. Rocky is slow, especially his footwork. In boxing this counts for a lot. It’s why Rocky lost the first time. However, as Mickey explains, “if you can catch a chicken you can catch greased lightning.”

While there are no records of such an incident that I’m aware of, if we assume “greased” lightning to be faster than conventional, un-greased lightning, with a standard return stroke (the current that causes visible flash) of 320,000,000 ft per second, and that this is much faster, on average, than Apollo’s dazzling footwork, we can safely infer that being able to “catch” such lightning (ignoring the 3rd degree burns and almost definite heart attack/stroke/spontaneous combustion this would cause) suggests a dramatic gain in overall speed, narrowing Rocky and Apollo’s agility gap. Given the logistical problems suggested by such “extreme” cross-training, however, Mickey chose instead to use a more readily available, low-risk alternative in chicken chasing to coach the Italian Stallion to victory.

Cross-training = Longevity

There’s more to cross-training than boosting performance, however. It’s also one of your best safeguards against injury (unless you do CrossFit). Why? Because the damage that any one movement might do can be mitigated by a different movement that does the opposite. To give an example, lately I’ve been doing lots of lache pres, which look like this.

Lache pre comes from parkour and means “swing jump.” You swing to generate momentum, release near the top to clear a gap, and land on your feet, as if from a jump. At longer distances the “release” technique of this movement generates large tension and torquing forces concentrated heavily at the shoulder joint. One can imagine the effect such forces exert on the shoulders over time. I don’t have to. I’ve torn attachments in my shoulder overtraining this movement. It wasn’t that my technique was flawed (though certainly imperfect). It’s that I didn’t address the wear and tear the movement was causing. The damage accumulated until, finally, POP. That was then. Now?

Punching = Swinging

I shadowbox, kind of. Shadowboxing, if done correctly, is tremendously healthy for shoulder joints. Shadowboxing trains punching, which, for the jab and cross, is mainly rapid forward extension and retraction of the arm chain. At high rep counts (20-100+), punching quickly pumps up and fatigues the shoulder joint capsule. This allows it to accept deep stretches, myofascial release, and other forms of soft tissue repair. That’s what I’m doing here – alternating between punching and tissue repair.

I start with light, open-handed punches on one side, though they’re not “real” punches. I’m mostly just shooting my arms out in ways that feel good, without concern for proper form. Please don’t roast me, boxers and martial artists. Then I’ll progressively punch through total shoulder ROM by twisting my punches in both directions. Once the shoulder is fatigued (takes 30-40 sec) I roll the ball all over it (60-90 sec). This mashes up the soft tissues of the deltoid, making the whole joint more malleable and mobile. Then I punch again to re-pump the joint, then I deeply stretch the shoulder on all three heads. A couple rounds of this make my shoulders feel amazing. It’s one tool I’ve used to bring swings back into my practice after shelving them for years over shoulder pain.

Cross-training = self-reliance

Understanding the basics of movement allows anyone to be their own Mickey. YOU are capable of programming intelligent cross-training that maintains balanced, pain-free function throughout life. At MonkeyStyle we’d rather teach you to workout than bark orders till you’re sweaty. If you want to be a student of movement, give us a call. We’ll help you catch that chicken.

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