As I talked about in a previous article about me knee pain, I got into CrossFit over late fall/early winter to work on some muscles that were heavily underused in my biking. It turned out to be an awesome experience and I would highly recommend for everyone that is into mountain biking to at least incorporate some of the CrossFit principles into your cross training workouts. There are some very direct mountain biking benefits to this type of cross training. My technical climbing and descending has greatly improved, and my burst power used in those steep grunts is way better than ever. I’m able to finally understand what people mean by muscling my bike through rocks. I can pick up the tires over rocks and direct the back end of the bike where I want. It has enabled me to clear technical climbs that I used to walk, and I recently nailed a very technical what used to be a 50 minute climb in 32 minutes. That’s what I call improvement!
CrossFit in short is a training methodology that focuses on “functional movements”, which are basically things you could do in real life (well not me and you, but maybe firemen or policemen, I sit at a desk). You don’t do any isolation exercises like bicep curls. It has compound exercises, many of which are Olympic lifts that work not only your major muscle groups, but also all the stabilizer muscles. That is the key in my opinion, as it will not only make those major muscles stronger, you are also working out all the support muscles leading to less injuries. There is a new WOD (Workout Of the Day) each day, and those are switched up, so you and your muscles and never bored and plateau’d. Also, the competition aspect of CrossFit makes you work hard and really push yourself. Every workout has some competition aspect to it, whether it’s AMRAP (As Many Reps As Possible in a defined time frame) or performing a pre-set number of rounds no matter how long it takes.
Having said all this, CrossFit can be abused and since it’s easy to open a CrossFit gym, there are many bad ones to go along with the great ones out there. In my opinion, it’s very much worth the extra money to join a good, experienced CrossFit gym in the beginning to learn how to perform all the complex Olympic lifts and learn proper form. Without proper form, you WILL hurt yourself. Especially if you try to overdo it. I personally joined a great gym for 3 months and learned as much as I could. I went 4 days a week and tried to absorb all the knowledge. Now that the biking base training season has kicked in, I’ve built a little home garage gym, and I’ve scaled back my workouts to 2-3 days a week as part of my training plan (LW Coaching training plan review coming soon!) and don’t do as high of an intensity as I did before. I’m focusing on maintaining my strength and keeping all those support muscles happy but I don’t want to build a bunch more strength.
Have you tried CrossFit and if not, what kind of cross training do you do?