I get this question a lot. Should cyclists cross train and if so, how? My answer varies based on the goals of each individual. Some amount of off the bike training is critical to fending off injury and improving your on bike performance. (core training, stretching) I don’t consider this “cross” training, just regular training. Cross training as defined here is the use of other sports or exercise movements in the effort to improve overall fitness or cycling.
The first questions is how important is cycling as part of your overall goals. If you are solely dedicated to road racing, for instance, a minimal amount of cross training is going to be needed. That would differ from the individual that wants to race cyclocross and also be able to play soccer with their kids on the weekends without being sore for a week.
The second question is a factor of where you live. If you are not in a warmer climate, cross training in the winter months can be a great way to fend off boredom and enjoy some other benefits of using other muscles.
The third question is one of mental state. Do you need a break from cycling in your training to stay motivated?
As a follow up, I’ll discuss cross training options and benefits.