It might seem unlikely during a British summer, however, training in the heat can have serious health risks. While most of us are probably lucky enough to enjoy an air-con enable fighting gym, cross-training during the summer months can be a bit more tricky. According to the BBC, heat-related health effects can start at even fairly moderate temperatures, and because most people in the UK are not acclimated to hot weather, we are at a higher risk of suffering from heatstroke.
So, just because it may seem safe to go for a jog when it’s overcast and a balmy 24-degrees, you may want to rethink your cross-training routine. While running is one of the most widely practiced methods of cross-training in almost any discipline there are plenty of other activities that will beat the heat while getting you fight-ready. We’ve searched high and low to find our top 5 favorite summer cross-training activities that will save even the most sensitive of Britons from a potential bout of heat exhaustion.
Cross-training is defined as the action or practice of training in two or more sports in order to improve fitness or performance in one’s main sport. While it is important for an athlete to train specifically for their primary discipline, cross-training is vital for maintaining a high level of overall fitness.
One of the main benefits of cross-training is building overall muscle strength. After months (or years) of doing the same movements, your body will become extremely efficient at performing those movements. While great for competing, this kind of repetition will limit the amount of overall fitness you possess and gradually reduces the benefits you get from training. Rather than continuing to improve, you will simply maintain a certain level of fitness.
In addition to building overall muscle strength, cross-training is also a great way to reduce the risk of overuse injury. Changing exercises limits the stress on specific muscles by using muscle groups in slightly different ways. It also is known to reduce exercise boredom, and improve balance, agility, and skill.
How to Cross-Train
There are a few different exercise categories to keep in mind when choosing your cross-training routine. In order to ensure you’re getting maximum benefit from your workouts, cross-training could be a combination of cardiovascular exercise, strength training, flexibility, speed, agility, and balance drills, and skill development.
Many athletes choose to focus on cardiovascular exercises when cross-training for combat sports. This typically implies some serious Rocky Balboa-inspired jogging.
However, during the summer such training can be quite difficult without risking a myriad of heat-related complications. It can also be frankly unenjoyable to run when it’s too hot. Luckily, summer is an ideal time to try new exercises and really experiment with your cross-training routine.
Top Summer Cross-Training Activities
From lakes and rivers, to lidos and indoor tennis courts, during the summer there are plenty of additional facilities at your disposal to shake up your cross-training routine. As long as you avoid the heat of the day, it’s a great time to enjoy the outdoors while also getting fit.
Why: A great way to explore the UK’s many waterways, rowing is an incredibly versatile sport. As a great source of strength and conditioning training, it’s also an ideal form of cross-training for combat sports.
How to get started: Rowing is surprisingly easy to take up. Rowing clubs across the UK offer British Rowing Go Row courses that teach beginners the basics of the sport. All you need to do is find a club and enroll in your first course. You also don’t need special kit to begin rowing. Clubs and water sport centers have boats for use at your disposal.
Why: Swimming is a great way to maintain high levels of overall fitness. Its low-impact nature also makes it a perfect exercise if you’re recovering from an injury. A great source of strength-training and cardio, swimming is almost as good as it gets when it comes to cross- training.
How to get started: With so many lidos and open-water swimming areas accessible during the summer months, getting started is as simple as turning up. If you’ll looking for something more advanced than simply swimming laps, try mixing up short sprints with periods of rest for a cardio exercise that’s second to none.
Why: Almost every muscle is used when cycling, making it an ideal cross-training exercise for any discipline.
How to get started: While cycling gear can cost you a pretty penny down the road, starting up is relatively inexpensive. As a beginner, the best bike is the one you have, so jump on and start cycling. If you want some company, Sky Rides organises rides around the UK for cyclers of all levels. If you’re in London, you can also check out the London Cycling Campaign to find group bike rides around the capital this summer.
Why: While seemingly similar to rowing, canoeing is generally considered less intense. Perfect for a recovery day, canoeing can be a great cardio workout, while still relaxed and enjoyable.
How to get started: Canoe England offers some free intro to canoeing classes during the summer that will allow you to explore the sport without purchasing expensive equipment.
5. Indoor Tennis
Why: Tennis is a great way to improve your hand-eye coordination while also keeping fit. There are plenty of indoor tennis courts throughout the UK so you can play without risking overheating.
How to get started: Tennis is easy to start but difficult to master. However, even at the beginner level, it can still be enjoyable and a great source of cardio training. Tennis community centres offer coaching and group sessions to get you started.
As a beginner, you typically don’t need to purchase any special equipment to begin our recommended cross-training exercises as most clubs will provide you with what you need. However, you do want to ensure that you wear the proper kit for each exercise. New kit for every type of cross-training would quickly get expensive, however, most of the time you can easily wear some of your combat sport staples while cross-training.
Typically reserved for MMA, Grappling, Kickboxing and other combat sports training, rash guards are a combat sport staple that can easily be worn for cross-training. Made of polyester-blend sweat-wicking material, a good rash guard is designed to protect your skin without locking in heat and moisture. This is perfect for sunny days spent canoeing, cycling, or rowing. There’s a few over in our summer sale, including this Made4Fighters Grunge Rash Guard, if you’re in need of a few more.
Boxing Tanks Tops
The shape of boxing tanks maximises the range of movement in the shoulders during combat, which is also extremely important during cross-training activities such as rowing or canoeing. The model by Nike, currently on sale, is constructed with breathable mesh and moisture-wicking fabric, providing obvious benefits while fighting or cross-training in the summer.
Spats, leggings, tights...whatever you want to call them, they can withstand some serious training. Again, usually made with moisture wicking material, spats are extremely comfortable and breathable whether you’re in the ring or cramped inside a shell (aka a racing boat). With quite a few options in our summer sale, including these PunchTown Apache Spats, there’s no reason not to pick up a few pairs. We promise they’ll get plenty of wear.