Athletes Share Their Favorite Cross Training Methods

Jada Bromberg and Zainab Rentia

The sounds of sneakers squeaking against the floor and the whining of the running machines fill the air. The stomping of dozens of pairs of feet provides a rhythmic background to the bustle of the gym. A clang is heard every few minutes, providing a new element to this musical potpourri. As the winter season starts, gyms are slowly filling up as many spring sports start winter training while other diligent athletes dedicate themselves to cross-training. Below are popular exercises practiced by these athletes, and their importance.

Nick Ripper weight training. Photo courtesy of Nick Ripper.

Weight Training

Building and maintaining muscles through strength training is a key component of exercise. Junior Tramina Pham, a member of Woodson’s Track and Field team, performs light-weight training on days she does not sprint in the off-season. 

“It’s important for sprinters to gain strength…  so they can gain more speed,” she said. “I generally do a small amount… it should just be until you can really feel it.”

Core Exercises

Contrary to public opinion, the core does not simply involve abdominal muscles, but also muscles in the back and near the pelvis. Strengthening these muscles helps stabilize the body and supports the spine. On days she’s not running, Pham does a full-body exercise program, specifically focusing on “core exercises like push-ups to make my body stronger for running.” Clara Do, a junior who is part of Woodson’s Swim Team also does push-ups as part of her “dry land” exercise program in addition to “a lot of squats because swimmers need to work on stability.”

The Woodson Crew Team’s indoor rowing practice. Photo by Zainab Retina.

Rowing

Rowing machines, or ergs, provide a full-body workout that uses 86 percent of the body’s muscles. It activates approximately twice the muscle mass as other popular exercises, such as running or cycling. It allows users to increase both endurance and speed by “doing a longer piece at a slower rate… or a higher intensity short piece,” said Junior Maryam Harasheh, a member of Woodson’s Crew team. 

The erg is the perfect machine for people of all fitness levels, as it allows users to adjust their stroke rate, or cadence, creating different intensities that match the individual’s needs.

Calisthenics

This group of exercises encompasses many different types of activities. Calisthenics “are performed with differing levels of intensity and rhythm,” according to healthline.com. Senior Alexander Pfeiffer who is on Woodson’s wrestling team does bodyweight exercises six days a week. A common calisthenic he practices are push-ups, and his workouts last on average two hours a day. 

Swimming

Senior Colin Milliman, who is also on the wrestling team likes to swim in the morning for extra exercise. Swimming is a “low-impact activity that has many physical and mental health benefits,” according to Better Health Channel, a website by the Department of Health. Clara Do, a junior and member of the swim team, “constantly swim[s]” in the off-season and “before big meets… [does] short sprints.”

Runners at Woodson Indoor Track Practice. Photo courtesy of Lexi Rumbaugh.

Sprinting

Boosting metabolism through running short distances causes a lot of calories to burn in a quick amount of time. “When it’s not during the crew season, I’ll go on runs… maybe a mile… sometimes more,” said Pham. The distance when going on a sprint is similar for Tramina, “I run like 3 times a week… for at least a mile.” Although typical sprints are about half the distance, athletes may practice longer distances to build endurance.

…And Don’t Forget

Maintaining a daily exercise routine isn’t only about staying physically  fit. “It’s not [just] about the body, it’s about what exercise provides you the most joy and happiness,” said senior Declan McAlevy. It is “a chance to get lost and let go of stress.”