Why cross training is important for aerialists

For many of you, no other workout really compares to your aerial training classes. An aerial class rarely gets “boring” like other types of workout classes can; your mind is constantly engaged as you work towards the next challenging pose or drop. But, you’ve got to change it up for your body’s health and overall wellbeing.

After a few months of aerial fitness training, you might feel like you’re getting into the best shape of your life (which you totally are!). But let’s say you take a long weekend and go skiing with your friends. By the time Sunday hits, you can barely move. What’s up with that? Cross training, my friends, is what’s up with that.


Cross training defined: Cross training consists of a workout that focuses on a different set of muscles OR a workout that works your muscles differently. For example, if you’re someone who does lots of aerial work you are frequently utilizing your “pulling” muscles (biceps, lats, forearms, etc.). So a great cross-training exercise would be Yoga because you are utilizing your lower body as well as your “pushing” muscles (triceps, shoulders, etc.) against the floor. Yes, you’re still using your lats, forearms and shoulders when you’re holding that plank, but you’re using those muscles in a different way than when you’re climbing and pulling your own body weight up.

As you can see from the two diagrams above, some of the same muscles are being used in a push up and pull up just in different ways. There are definitely different muscles being worked too. Are we starting to get the gist of this whole cross training thing yet? Here ‘s some more for ya…

Performance Cross-training vs. Recovery Cross-training

So let’s say you’re trying to become a top-notch aerialist. Should you be training hard on your apparatus EVERY DAY? No, absolutely not! You should be cross training a few times per week.

So there are 2 different types of cross training.

1. Performance cross training is a workout that is going to enhance your performance. Usually it works the SAME muscles you use in your main workout regimen, in this case it would be the muscles needed accomplish new feats in the air (arms, core), but in different ways. Here’s an easy example for you: Think about how you hold a silk when you climb. Now think about doing a pull up. They are the same, but different. Now think about inverting on the silk, and then think about how you engage your muscles differently when you do leg lifts holding onto a pull up bar. Both exercises are essentially working the same muscles, but in slightly different ways. So doing pull ups and leg lifts on a pull up bar would be performance cross training for an aerialist because it’s giving your “aerial muscles” performance enhancing capabilities.

2. Recovery cross training consists of doing a workout that allows one group of muscles to rest (in this case, your “aerial muscles”) while you work a completely different set of muscles (i.e. legs!). Stretching is also considered a recovery cross training method due to the restorative nature of lengthening and breathing into your muscles. Let’s say you took an aerial fitness class yesterday. A great recovery workout would be one that focused on lower body or cardio (like doing sprints, a dance fitness class or barre class) because you’re allowing your upper body to rest/recover.

If aerial fitness is your main squeeze, doing it 1-3 times per week is acceptable IF you’re also cross training an equal amount of that time.

Performance Cross Training for aerial fitness: check out the info-graphic below to help you figure out how to choose classes to take and exercises to do to enhance your aerial performance.

Performance Cross Training.png

Recovery Cross Training exercises for aerial fitness: these are exercises you can still do while allowing your “aerial muscles” to rest, recover and recuperate.



Benefits of Cross training:

·      PREVENTS injury from repetitive movements (that’s the big one, peeps)

·      Helps muscle recovery (so you can progress faster)

·      Helps to prevent burn out (getting sick of your workout, losing motivation)

·      Your body will FEEL BETTER because it’s balanced

·      Can help an injury heal that has been caused by your main avenue of exercise

So, why is cross training important for aerialists?

Here are some reasons why you NEED to be cross training in your aerial fitness regimen.

1. First of all, you don’t want to tire your muscles out. Training the same muscles over and over again is called over training and can actually cause you to regress. Let your muscles rest by either taking a full on rest day (no working out) or do a Recovery Cross Training workout.

2. Cross training will help your body stay balanced. If you are constantly working one set of muscles and completely ignoring strengthening the opposing set of muscles, one set of muscles is getting super strong while the other set is getting weaker. This is a formula for your strong muscles to overcompensate for your weaker muscles which can lead to, you guessed it, injury.

3. Shoulder injuries and tendonitis are the most common injury among serious aerialists, mostly due to repetitive exercise. Proper cross training is best practice to prevent these injuries from occurring.

4. Your body will feel good. You will feel balanced and will be all around stronger.

5. Cross training produces a higher level of total body conditioning. In other words, you will be more in shape and have more endurance implementing cross training than just doing one type of workout.

If you’re still not convinced that cross training is necessary, then just talk to me. I’ve got rotator cuff tendonitis due to repetitive training and ignoring a proper cross training regimen in my early aerial days. I was SO excited to train on aerial apparatuses everyday for the first two years, that I just forgot about other types of workouts! Well, maybe that’s an exaggeration, but I’m trying to say that pretty much the only training I did for the first two years was aerial training while I should’ve been focusing on my other sets of muscles as well.  Now I’m paying for my rookie mistakes. BUT it has helped me become a better trainer and coach because it’s forced me to study how to prevent injuries and how to train muscles and tendons properly to produce the efficient results and proper technique.

GOOD NEWS! You don’t have to join another gym because you can get all your cross training in at Bella Forza Fitness! Here’s an easy guide to cross training at BFF:

Cross Training at BFF.png

Stay Fit and In Flight,