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What is cross-training?

Cross-training is the practice of at least one additional activity to supplement a main sport by building outside skills and strengths both mentally and physically. Cross-training is utilized by almost all athletes to stimulate new muscles and to train varying movements in order to maintain a healthy body with balanced muscle groups. Supplementary activities are often of lower impact than one’s main activity that allows for variation with less stress on the body.

Why is cross-training important?

Partaking in additional activities outside of one’s main sport allows for a unique development of both mental and physical strength that contributes to an improvement in performance. Incorporating low-impact exercises is crucial for athletes to obtain results without placing stress on joints or injuries. While cross-training is known for its physical benefits, adding variation to an athlete’s exercise program challenges the mind in new ways. Stimulating the mind with techniques such as reactive training helps maintain and improve aspects of sports that often goes unaccounted for.

Cross-training and MotoGP

Q: What kind of cross-training techniques do the MotoGP riders utilize to improve their riding skills? A: The list is long and while many riders share a passion for activities such as bicycling, some riders have their personal, unique favorites. In general, the more popular cross-training exercises incorporated into the MotoGP world include road bicycling, mountain/trail bicycling, motocross, flat track, boxing and weight lifting.

Q: Why are certain forms of training more beneficial than others?  A: First off, we must remember that cross-training focuses on low impact activities to supplement a sport. Hello bicycling! When riders break out the bikes without engines, they are able to develop stronger endurance and lung capacity – both key elements in road racing. Riders tend to shy away from cardio exercises such as running because of the impact placed on joints and injuries. Another popular cross-training outlet riders use is the gym, more specifically weight lifting! This allows for specific muscle targeting that can be directly correlated to a lap on a MotoGP circuit. Example 1: weighted side lunges can help target muscle groups used when going through turns (leaning a bike over and standing it back up). Example 2: exercises focusing on forearm and grip strength allow riders to train a very important hand and wrist movement used when handling a 250 horsepower bike.

Q: What is reactive training and why is it important? A: Reactive training focuses on developing fast, powerful movements which in turn, trains the nervous system to recruit the desired muscles quickly and efficiently. If you’ve ever watched a MotoGP race you have seen just how quickly the bikes accelerate, brake and in some cases, glitch. Having a fast reaction time is crucial when racing as riders are constantly making split second decisions. One popular reactive training method used by athletes and riders is boxing. Boxing challenges and strengthens a person’s coordination, reactivity and agility – three concepts MotoGP riders are very familiar with.