Tag Archives: Weight Training

Cross Train and Receive Unbelievable Fitness Results


Updated 17 June 2020 by Marc Woodard

I recall cross training during the 80’s. The training facilities didn’t have all the fancy exercise equipment and indoor obstacle and Parkour setups, but the principled fitness programming strategies were the same. Today those same cross train exercise activities are used by a new generation of athletes and fitness enthusiasts to sustain a superior fitness and competitive sport condition year round. Cross training is not a new concept…

The cross train fitness concepts were branded and made popular two decades ago by CrossFit training. CrossFit, Inc. is a fitness company founded by Greg Glassman and Lauren Jenai in 2000. Its training philosophy and programs make use of a wide variety of age old sports conditioning, physical activities and exercise to sustain high fitness and performance levels. They popularized and evolved cross training exercise and activities throughout the globe. In 2014 a mix of cross train facilities were offered in over 9,000 affiliated gyms with the CrossFit brand.

Cross fit facilities may consist of various indoor and outdoor obstacle courses, or exercise stations specifically designed to cross train and condition the body to free-run with free-form type acrobats around-over structures, climb, jump, roll, leap, as seen on a Parkour setup. The first Parkour field courses originated within the military and are still used today to condition and cross train soldiers for the rigors of war.

To better relate to cross train principles and competitive events, think of the popular game show survivor, ultimate tag and American Ninja Warrior for example… which uses a variety and variation of Parkour type obstacles that are mentally and physically challenging. To be competitive in Parkour, one should consider cross-training in multiple task specific exercise to be competitive in these types of events. To win Parkour and other obstacle events requires a customized cross train program; that includes, but not limited to: running, gymnastics, and various exercise that targets and develops muscular endurance and strength and explosive speed, with jump, leap and bound capabilities. Free running makes use of environmental structures outside of the gym.

When free running and cross train programs are combined… you have an unbeatable Parkour training and fitness conditioning program.

“Freerunning, is best described as a form of “urban acrobatics” in which participants (free runners) use the city and rural landscape to perform acrobatic movements in order to get from point A to point B” [Urban Dictionary].

Cross train training programs often incorporate a mix of other high-intensity interval training: i.e., rope/peg/ring/bar climb, girevoy sport (Russia KettleBell lifting), plyometrics (jump training), strongman tasks: powerlifting… swimming, boxing, calisthenics, gymnastics and other cross train exercise activities that include rock face climbing.

If a gym offers CrossFit programs then there will be exercise area(s) that offer more than free weights, stationary weight lifting equipment and aerobics room and equipment, swimming pool, racquet ball courts and aerobic dance floor areas, etc.

There are now numerous facilities throughout the globe offering cross-training classes with Cross Fit certification. As a matter of fact the CrossFit brand and principled ideology now falls under many cross train fitness facility brands.

In the 80’s fitness enthusiasts including myself used cross train techniques and routines to sustain superior physical conditioning. Other cross fit conditioning programs and activities I used to sustain competitive fitness levels included: martial arts, gymnastics, rope/peg climbing, field and track events, running, jumping and leaping through field obstacle courses, natural rock face climbing, free weights, power lifting, racquetball, handball, squash, kettlebells, hiking, swimming, kayaking, racquetball, hiking and cycling. My primary competitive sport of choice: football, baseball, track and field, martial arts and bodybuilding.

Nothing was off the table when developing a customized cross train program to achieve a superior fitness condition and competitive edge within any sport, or fitness challenge.

Free bar weights are often used to dead lift, including clean and jerk exercise, etc. KettleBells are another form of free weight exercise and can be performed anywhere.

Before CrossFit was a house hold word, our generation created custom built cross train facilities in our local gyms, back yards, field, or natural wooded area, or garage. We customized our cross training space based on the best fitness training information of the day.

Want a tough fitness challenge? Try toppling a 200lb tire 50-75′ or swinging a huge mallet on tire 8-10 times. Or rolling a 300lb concrete ball for the distance. Sounds like hard labor… also great for bodybuilding.
Rings develop upper body and arm and grip strength and hang time. Variations of old school gymnastics equipment in modern form can be found in Parkour facilities.

Cross fit facilities back then didn’t exist in the marketplace like they do today. For instance, you couldn’t go into any gym and find a rock climbing wall, Parkour obstacle course. The floor design and equipment layout catered to bodybuilders. This was an era of Joe Weider and other bodybuilding celebrities’ who ruled the fitness industry, which included promoting the next Olympia bodybuilding champion and anabolic supplement. “He popularized bodybuilding and spread the message of health and fitness worldwide with such publications as Muscle & Fitness, Flex, and Shape. Schwarzenegger himself is the executive editor of Muscle & Fitness and Flex” [The Guardian, 2013] .

“The 80’s was a bodybuilders era where Joe Weider ruled the fitness arena, next Olympia champions and anabolic supplement marketplace.” Men and women bodybuilding is still popular and still in high spectator demand today.

Today you can find a plethora of cross train programs, equipment and bodybuilding resources and services built into one fitness facility. If you want to take your fitness and competitive skill sets to the next level… I’m convinced a competitive athlete regardless of chosen sport must incorporate cross train programming into a customized fitness program. This is especially true if one hopes to compete against the best in any professional sport.

Take rock climbing for example… ? I’d say it qualifies as a unique and professional sport. What type(s) of cross fit or specialized fitness programing should they focus on seasonally and/or annually?

Should a rock climber climb only vertical walls to be the best at what they do? Or should they focus more on gym workouts? What I’ve learned… to be the best at something, you have to train specifically for that skill set. However, incorporating a cross train program will make a better and more competitive climber. How should he/she cross train in preparation for the real event?

Professional Rock Climbing Skills Put to the Test.
Fundamental Rock Climbing Skills and Conditioning Indoors

In consideration of selecting a gym for rock climb conditioning… I would look for an indoor and/or outdoor rock climbing facility, or rockface outcrop nearby to train daily, even during inclement weather. Other secondary fitness conditioning should include: yoga and high intensity interval dance and karate classes, with programmed resistive weight and hang time training that develops grip and lower and upper body strength and improved muscular endurance for extended periods of hang time. If you can’t hang for a minimum of 2-minutes at one-two points of contact [e.g., leg-foot], until finding a vertical rest hold position… your fall risk increases.

Cross-training “mostly” indoors is in no way a substitute for the real thing. You have to train in a similar environment if you expect to be the best at what you do. Rock climbers that don’t cross train and within natural environmental are at greater risk of injury or worse. If your chosen sport is rock climbing you must also plan a safety/survivor backup strategy in the event you become injured and/or stationary affixed in place. For example, how will you shelter, hydrate, perform first aid, consume calories, make contact with emergency task force and survive until rescued. …

If your training to become the next American Ninja Warrior then your cross train program must focus on upper body and grip strength, powerful and explosive legs for jumping, vaulting, swinging and leaping; also free-form running up, around, through obstacles… achieving the cardio and muscular endurance of a gazelle.

I’ve studied professional sport players who compete in physical challenges outside of their trained profession. Body type, passion, genetics and training techniques, medical history, fitness goals, etc., all count. And genetics is a thing. Whereas others like you and I have to work and train very hard to achieve the competitive fitness condition. Every one of us is wired to be competitive at different levels of sport play within certain exercise activities within similar environments. Understanding your competitive strengths and weaknesses must be considered when programming cross train exercise to excel in any chosen competitive arena.

Ageless MirrorAthlete also covers building a competitive fitness program to beat a competitor using cross fit concepts, ideology and principles… Ch18, page 287.

The point is, if you’re looking to be physically good or competitive at something, you’ll have to cross train similar to your competitor in a similar environment. But if you simply want to body build, stay in shape, and/or sustain superior physical fitness: strength, cardio and muscular endurance and flexibility, you don’t need to cross-train, or workout at elite levels.

Cross training, or certified CrossFit centers may not offer a training program specific to your competitive or specific fitness or sports activity needs. However, if you’re serious about taking your physical condition to the next level… you can find a skilled cross fit trainer-consultant who specializes in a customized program to help you achieve superior fitness and competitive and winning results.

Author: Marc T. Woodard, MBA, BS Exercise Science, ARNG, CPT, RET. 2014-20 Copyright. All rights reserved, Mirror Athlete Inc., www.mirrorathlete.org, Sign up for your Free eNewsletter.

Change Exercise & Nutrient Strategies – Grow More Muscle, Part 2


Task Specific Training for Muscle Growth Success

Task Specific Training for Muscle Growth Success

Click on Read Part 1, or cited article link, How to Grow Muscle Naturally, Part 1, below to get the full muscle growth and strength story.

Muscle growth is dependent upon protein synthesis [process in which cells build and repair themselves].  An adequate supply of essential amino acids is necessary to grow muscle and keep it in a good state of repair.  It is wise to ensure you consume a diet high in essential and nonessential amino acids for muscle during high intensity weight training cycles.  The mix of amino acid through proteins comes from a variety of whole foods: poultry/eggs, fish, beef, seafood, beans, nuts/seeds and dairy (Healthaliciousness 2013).

“The United States RDA is 0.8g/kg or 0.4g/lbs. This is 80g protein per day if you weigh 200lbs. But this recommendation is based on studies done on average, sedentary people.  The minimum if you train hard is 1g protein per pound of body-weight per day. That’s 200g daily protein if you weigh 200lbs. You’ll reach this amount easily by eating a whole protein source with each meal.”  (Mehdi 2009)

Professional body builders and athletes frequently consume three times that in food calories and supplements to grow muscle and increase strength.

Most Americans, unless you’re adverse to eating animal products get enough protein in the average diet. But this does not guarantee your getting all essential amino acids from the proteins you consume in a day.

Your body needs 20 total amino acids to build and repair muscles and tissues.  The nine essential amino acids are histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan and valine.”  If you are stressed or severely sick, you need to get dietary non-essential amino acids as well.  Non-essential amino acids, made by the body include alanine, asparagine, aspartic acid, arginine, cysteine, glutamine, glycine, ornithine, proline, serine, tyrosine and glutamic acid.” Meat, dairy, eggs, poultry and seafood provide all nine essential amino acids and are known as complete proteins. (Coffman 2013)

If you do not eat seafood or animal-based foods, your diet is likely lacking in essential amino acids.  This is one reason power lifters supplement their diet with an amino acid or protein supplement drink or power bar.  By doing so ensures muscle tissue has adequate nutrients to optimize muscle growth and strength potential.

Their supplemental nutrients taken daily also often include a daily vitamin and mineral complex.  These are the staple nutrients necessary to ensure the bodies muscles can optimally repair and grow.

 Changing exercise strategy to grow more muscle,

Frequently switch up your exercises.  Don’t get stuck on the same routine week in and out.  Use a wide array of weight lifting equipment and target muscles you typically don’t train.  For instance, the bench press focuses on the mid-pectoral chest muscles, but it does not maximally stress the upper or lower pectoral muscles.  Be sure you’re adding an incline and decline chest exercise to round out the chest area (symmetrical).  After 72 hours when you work the chest again, use stationary bench press equipment, or dumbbells as opposed to the free weight bench press to perform similar chest exercises.

If you typically look the other way as you walk past a workout station… this should tell you, you have weak muscles that need work.  Many experienced bodybuilders never do the same workout twice.  How do you think natural body builders sustain their size for decades?  They work other supporting muscular structures that assist weakening muscle fiber.  In this way, if strength diminishes through the aging process; muscular bulk is maintained through other variations of less intense exercise activity.  It is possible to sustain muscle mass and not have great strength.  It’s really about how you train and set fitness goals.

Until the weakest muscles are worked, for example by varying the angles of the muscle group articulations it will be harder to optimize symmetrical muscle growth and overall strength-power.  Why’s that?  Because the muscular inter-tie and effort per muscle group is dependent on the weakest bundled muscle fibers that work in sync to achieve maximum muscle torque per grouping.

You’ve heard that team that work together win championships right.  The same is true of a body’s internal musculature groupings and forces.  The first place to visually observe an interlinking muscle grouping weakness can be seen in an outer appearing muscular symmetry beneath the skin.

So how do you view this to determine muscle group weaknesses?  Stand in front of a mirror and you’ll note the developing muscles vs. muscle depressions/or size differences from one arm or shoulder muscle, from the other side as an example.  The muscle groups required to compete cannot with an underdeveloped or depressed, undersized, or underdeveloped muscle grouping.

For example, if the bulk of your chest development resides within the mid chest and front shoulder areas, your upper and/or lower chest muscles will appear to be deflated or depressed.  If your goal is to win a national body building competition, or become a great fighter for example, how can you compete with the elite if muscle symmetry and/or full strength ROM (Range of Motion) per task specific body segments is underdeveloped?  Point and case, you’ll face competitive challenges.

When you pay attention to muscle development deficits, it makes it easier to take a corrective weight training (task specific) exercise action to keep the team of muscles within any muscle grouping symmetrically trained, especially if you plan to compete in competitive sports.

Can you train competitively without the steroids and growth hormones?

I don’t believe anabolic steroids should be allowed to create a performance advantage for competitive sports for ethical and health reasons.  But the fact is they are used by many professional athletes.  Note I said many, I didn’t say all.  I recommend you follow professional athletes that train muscle naturally if you want to steer clear of the unwanted health risks associated with anabolic supplements.

Does this mean that Growth Hormones and steroids have no medical use?  There is literature that makes good sense out of its use to benefit health and quality living experiences.  But it is only through a doctor’s care and treatment and when used correctly can provide a health benefit while minimizing health risk.

“Suzanne Somers states, Growth Hormone is one of the most studied compounds in medicine.  When growth hormone deficiency is present, growth hormone replacement therapy has widespread health benefits on quality of life, body composition, cognitive function, cardiovascular outcomes, bone density and exercise capacity.  Growth hormone replacement therapy has been studied with published results in major medical journals reporting on more than 100,000 patients.”   (Somers 2012)

It is the abusive and unnecessary overuse of steroids and growth hormones that skew the benefits vs. health risk.  In other words, science can find ways to keep us healthy longer, but ultimately it is man’s abuse, greed and vanity that seeks to deliver a performance shortcut and achieve a short-term competitive edge.  In using a pharmaceutical or supplemental product above and beyond its safe use throws blinds over impressionable eyes.  And in doing so delivers unwanted health consequences for too many of our young athletes.

If you want to gain strength and grow muscle safely, work for it by doing it naturally.  Working hard without the use of dangerous chemical short-cuts will reward your body by supporting a long-lived quality lifestyle.  If you suspect you need hormone therapy, ensure you consult with a doctor.  Or if your intent on using any type of steroid or growth hormone supplement, do yourself a favor, first read the article link below to learn more about them,  “GH-Hormone Stimulator the Fountain of Youth. ”

Works Cited,

Coffman, Melodie A. “Do You Need to Eat Essential Amino Acids Every Day?” Healthy Eating. Hearst Communications, Inc., n.d. Web. 17 June 2013. <http://healthyeating.sfgate.com/need-eat-essential-amino-acids-day-3113.html>.

Healthaliciousness. “Top 10 Foods Highest in Protein.” Top 10 Foods Highest in Protein. Healthaliciousness.com, 2013. Web. 17 June 2013. <http://www.healthaliciousness.com/articles/foods-highest-in-protein.php>.

Mehdi. “Protein 101: How Much Do You Need & Best Sources of Protein | StrongLifts StrongLifts.” StrongLifts RSS. StrongLifts.com, 25 May 2009. Web. 17 June 2013. <http://stronglifts.com/protein-daily-needs-myths-best-sources-protein/>.

Somers, Suzanne. “Human Growth Hormone Update.” Suzanne’s Blog. Suzannesomers.com/blog, 5 June 2012. Web. 17 June 2013. <http://www.suzannesomers.com/Blog/post/Human-Growth-Hormone-Update.aspx>.

Woodard, Marc T.  How to Grow Muscle Naturally, Part 1.  Mirror Athletes Fitness Secrets. MirrorAthlete.com, 18 June. 2012. Web. 20 July 2013. http://www.mirrorathlete.org/?p=1629 

Woodard, Marc T.   GH-Hormone Stimulator the Fountain of Youth.  Mirror Athlete Fitness Secrets. 3 Feb. 2012. Web. 17 June 2013. Elixir? http://www.mirrorathlete.org/?p=1283

Author: Marc T. Woodard, MBA, BS Exercise Science, ARNG, CPT, RET. 2013 Copyright. All rights reserved, Mirror Athlete Inc., www.mirrorathlete.org, Sign up for your Free eNewsletter.