Athletes who are in the beginning stages of fitness may not be familiar with the concept of cross training. Cross training is using a different form of exercise to improve your performance in your main sport. Over 64 million people use running or jogging as their primary sport. For runners, there are a wide variety of common options when cross training- these include swimming, steppers, elliptical, and cycling.
Of these options, cycling is the most beneficial. Cycling is the only option that uses muscles complementary to running instead of identical. Training on an elliptical will work the same muscles as running and will slightly boost performance. Cycling works muscles that running does not and will significantly boost performance. These are listed below.
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The quadriceps are the big muscle on the front of your thigh, and play a pivotal role in the overall strength in your leg. However, running does not give your quadriceps an adequate workout.
Having strong quadriceps prevents your knees from buckling as they pound the pavement, making you less prone to injury. At least 50% of runners become injured in any given year and the majority of them suffer from some variety of knee pain. Cycling gives your quadriceps the stimulation needed for this effect.
The gluteus medius is one of the three gluteal muscles on the body, and like the quadriceps, it is not effectively exercised by running. The gluteus medius is one of the components that keep your hips from swinging while you run. Preventing this swinging is preventing knee and hip pain.
When your hip swings, it pulls taut something called the iliotibial band. This ligament runs down the entire leg, connecting at the hip, knee, and shin. It holds responsibility for supporting and stabilizing your joints, and pulling it tight puts you at high risk of injury.