If you spent any time in a weight room during the 1990's there is one song that you probably heard way too much. To this day, I can't look at a squat rack without singing a little to myself.
Cross training. Weights. Pilates. Yoga. Cross fit. Biking. We all know the experts tell us we're supposed to do these things. Most of us know why. Our core keeps us healthy. Upper body power helps on short, steep climbs, and sprints. Overall fitness prevents injury.
But when it comes down to it, I don't do any of it. And most the runners I know don't do much other than run as well.
I've never been a muscle bound kind of guy. I have been all-around strong a few times in my life. Some of that was from the weight room. Some of that was from playing hockey, or even rock climbing. Most of it came from good old fashioned work.
My dad is a plumber. I started going to work with him when I was about 10. In my teen years, when there was a ditch to be dug, I was there with a pick and/or shovel. That one summer I thought about not going back to college dad managed to find MILES of trench for me to dig. Without much exaggeration, I'm pretty sure I managed to dig 5k worth of trench that summer.
Today, I don't do much trench digging, but I do put up my own firewood. This involves a good sized chain saw, carrying trees and logs across uneven ground, cutting to length, splitting, and stacking between 6 and 10 cords of firewood every summer. No, I don't split all of that by hand. The vast majority is split with a nice hydraulic splitter. But I do set aside a good sized fraction of a cord to split by hand. At the end of a day of working firewood I hurt. My legs are sore from moving with the weight of the logs on uneven ground up and down hills. My abs are sore from keeping the 8-10 foot tree balanced on my shoulder through it all. My pecs are sore from pushing trees into the truck. My back is sore from picking up trees and tools. My arms are screaming at me for the weight of the chainsaw after three hours and scream even more when I give them a break to lift and throw trees.
But it's the good kind of hurt. And that's what I do to maintain strength. In the winter, I'm either shoveling snow, hauling firewood, or skiing (telemark, or skate skiing). I think the skate skiing is the closest thing to all out full body exercise I give myself. And it's a blast.
So that's the round about way of saying I think the experts are probably right. We should all do some sort of cross training. But don't forget, back in the day there was no cross training, only chores.
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