Catch That Chicken!

Cross-training is an effective and enjoyable way to retain your favorite movement skills by learning new ones. So go ahead, catch that chicken!

What is "cross-training?"

If you’re familiar with the term “cross-training” you probably associate it with CrossFit or, hopefully, understand it as something like “training in one activity to complement a different activity.” Because any sport or activity has “blind spots” in terms of which movement patterns it favors, which leads to imbalanced muscular development and mobility, it’s wise to frequently incorporate new patterns from other activities into one’s training regimen in order to “fill in the gaps.” This reduces the likelihood of overuse injury and can increase overall performance in the main activity.

Here’s Rocky chasing a chicken.

Greased Lightning > Apollo

At first it may not be obvious how “catch chicken” = “defeat Apollo” until you consider the objective Rocky’s trainer, Mickey, is aiming at, namely quickness. Apollo is fast. Rocky is slow, especially his footwork. In boxing this counts for a lot. It's a big reason Rocky lost the first time. However, as Mickey explains, “if you can catch a chicken you can catch greased lightning.”

While there are no known records of such an incident, if we assume “greased” lightning to be faster than conventional, un-greased lightning, with a standard return stroke (the current that causes visible flash) of 320,000,000 ft per second, and that this is faster, on average, than Apollo’s dazzling footwork, we can safely infer that being able to “catch” such lightning (ignoring the 3rd degree burns and almost definite heart attack/stroke/spontaneous combustion this would cause) would signal dramatic quickness gains for Rocky, narrowing the agility gap between him and Apollo. Given the risks inherent to such “extreme” cross-training, however, Mickey chose a more readily available alternative in chicken chasing to coach the Italian Stallion to victory.

Cross-training = Longevity

In addition to boosting performance cross-training can also safeguard against injury. How? By using oppositional patterns. This means repairing the damage a heavily-used movement might be causing by training a different skill that moves in the opposing direction or pattern. This strengthens and protects the involved joint(s) in both directions, and facilitates balance between the primary agonist and antagonist muscles. To give an example, lately I’ve been practicing laches again, and using shadowboxing to maintain them.

Lache comes from parkour and means “swing jump.” Gripping an overhead bar or branch, you swing to generate momentum and release near the top to launch yourself through the air. It's super fun! At longer distances, however, the release phase of this movement - which involves rapidly throwing your arms behind you - generates serious torque on the shoulder joints. Over time, with enough repetitions, this can wear down the rotator cuff and set up injury. I should know. Years ago I suffered a partially torn rotator cuff as a direct result from overtraining this movement. To make sure this didn't happen again, after rehab I dusted off my shadowboxing.

Punching = Swinging

Shadowboxing, when done consistently, is tremendously healthy for shoulder joints. Repetitive punching trains the rotator cuff to be highly stable at speed in a wide variety of angles and positions. In particular, the rapid forward extension of jabs and crosses is a great corrective to the wear and tear of the backwards extension required in a lache release. Since I brought shadowboxing back into the routine my shoulders have proven far more durable under the strain of high-powered laches. If they do begin to wear down again, I now know I can just back off laches for a bit and shadowbox until they're ready again. This is way more enjoyable than conventional rehab, which means I'm more inclined to, you know, actually do it.

Cross-training = self-reliance

Understanding the basics of movement allows anyone to be their own Mickey. YOU are capable of programming intelligent cross-training that maintains balanced, pain-free function throughout life. At MonkeyDo we’d rather teach you to workout than bark orders till you’re sweaty. If you want to be a student of movement, reach out. We’ll help you catch that chicken.