It doesn't matter if you're a swimmer, marathoner, or weight lifter, your go-to workout isn't enough to maximize your performance on its own. We asked Justin Senense, a personal trainer at New York's Rich Barretta Private Training Studio, for the moves that will make you faster, stronger, and more efficient.
If you lift, do hatha yoga—and vice versa: You don't see many juiced up guys in downward dog (or slender yogis benching, for that matter), but lifting and yoga are yin and yang, Sensnse says. Hatha yoga is the basic kind of yoga that emphasizes postures such as warrior pose with controlled breathing—which also helps improve oxygen flow to your muscles. "If you have a great range of motion, the chances of lifting with correct form will be more likely," he says. "Same goes for yoga. The stronger someone is in the upper and lower body, the better they will be able to hold poses." If you're not prepared to salute the sun for an hour, add some yoga to your gym routine. Senense has his clients switch between lifting and a warrior pose. The goal is to be able to transition between the two quickly and easily.
If you swim, use the rowing machine: The rowing machine uses several body parts at once—a technique that works for swimmers in particular, because in the pool all your muscles are firing at the same time. Rowing is great for backstroke, but you can get the same multifunctional effect from jump-square pull ups, kettle-ball training, and cable work—anything that combines two or three muscles at once. "In my opinion, the best athletes are triathletes," Senense says. "They do it all—stability, flexibility, lifting. We all train too hard, we forget that our body over time will reap the rewards as well as the pain and the injuries. We can kind of battle that with this."
If you run in the heat, try bikram yoga: If you're gearing up for a long race in the heat, try bikram yoga. You'll get the flexibility and stretching that comes with any yoga or pilates routines, plus prepare your body for high temperatures. "It's both mental and physical," Senense says. "Now that you know that you've been in the heat, you know that you an handle it. Plus, your body has adapted to it." Even if you don't anticipate a warm-weather race, a few sessions could still be beneficial —runners in April's Boston Marathon battled temps in the 80s.
If you run or cycle long distances, incorporate short strength-training intervals: Building lactic acid is the goal with these workouts, which Sensense suggests doing twice a week. That type of routine teaches your body to switch between aerobic and anaerobic states, so that on race day, you'll know how long you can sustain a quicker heart rate—and you can surge when it really counts. Senense suggests repeating this routine for an hour:
-Squats with a 50-pound dumbbell between the legs for one minute
-Lunges with 25 pounds in each hand for one minute
-Side shuttles without a wait for two minutes
-Bent-over rows with 25 pounds in each hand for one minute
-Bicep curls with 12.5-pound weights for one minute
-Overhead presses for one minute
-Overhead triceps exertions for one minute
-Full sit ups for two minutes
-Plank for one minute