You may consider yourself reasonably fit because you run, bike or go to the gym several times a week. However, if you don't mix up your workouts, you could be running the risk of getting an injury or getting bored and stopping your exercise altogether.
Cross training is a method of training that uses a routine that involves several different types of exercise. Cross training works more muscle groups, improves your agility, and makes it easier to do various recreational sports, including skiing.
Cross Training Explained
Anyone that partakes in a particular sport needs to train specifically for it. However, to excel at it, they need to add cross training to their weekly routine to reach a higher level of fitness.
A great example of cross training is a runner that cycles and swims every week to build muscle and improve aerobic fitness while reducing their chance of incurring overuse injuries.
Benefits Of Cross Training
Cross training has many benefits over just doing the same exercises over and over again. Here are some of the things you can enjoy by varying your workouts in this way:
Target Different Muscle Groups
If you do the same movements for a few months, your body becomes efficient at making those movements. The muscle memory you get from this is great for competition, but it limits your overall fitness while reducing the actual conditioning from training. This means that you will struggle to improve and maintain a certain level of fitness. By doing multiple activities with cross training, you will get a much better overall fitness, than if you just went for a run three times a week.
Stops You Getting Bored
It is very common for people to stop exercising due to boredom. When your workouts become dull, you are less likely to do them. It doesn't take much to break an exercise routine, but it is challenging to get back into one.
Cross training means you are adding fun activities that you like and want to do into your training. You will not see them as workouts, so you are more likely to maintain your routine.
Anything that increases your motivation for exercise is worth doing. Exercising does not have to just be for fitness. If doing more cross training and less running makes your workouts more fun, do it! In addition to this, if you don't feel like going for a run today, but you would be happier to go cycling, get your bike out. You will be in much better shape than a runner who doesn't cross train and only chooses running or sitting on the sofa.
It Develops Your Skillset
By doing a variety of things, you may find something new that you like to do. But, doing a new sport or exercise could easily make your life better by introducing you to a whole new lifestyle.
Alternatively, the skills you get from a new sport could even help you in other aspects of your life. A sport that improves your agility and balance is great, especially as you get older.
Work On Different Areas Of Your Body
Cross training helps you to vary the stress placed on the different areas of your body. By varying your exercise with cross training, you increase your injury prevention from repetitive strain or overuse.
Therefore, you can be exercising one part of your body while another part is in recovery.
Working out helps you reach your goals only when followed by rest and recovery.
Rest time is essential, but if you practice active recovery workouts between key workouts, you will become fitter than someone who doesn't. Active-recovery workouts actually provide you with more recovery than sitting around doing nothing. This is because light exercise accelerates recovery as it slightly increases the body's need for recovery.
If you get into cross training, overuse injuries are less of a problem. You can maintain your fitness by doing something else.
You will obviously want to resume your normal training routine as soon as possible after an injury. But modifying your training plan allows you to maintain your fitness without aggravating your injury or extending the recovery time.
If you are an injured runner, try water running, a NordicTrainer or cycling, as their movements are closely similar to running. When runners are injured, they should perform cross training workouts that match their run workouts in duration, structure, and intensity.
If you have been out of action for a while and you sense that your fitness is in rapid decline, cross training activities can reverse the process.
You Can Adapt Your Exercise To Your Needs
By being flexible with your cross training workout, you can adjust your training to suit your circumstances. For example, the pool could be closed, so why not go for a run or jump on the bike to use your scheduled workout time productively?
What To Add Into A Cross Training Program
When developing a cross training program, you have a considerable level of flexibility. Your goal is to choose a variety of exercises that incorporate different movements to your main sport or activity. For example, if you are a runner, you may want to add swimming or weight training into your cross training program. Alternatively, try to combine circuit training, cycling, plyometrics, and yoga, to create a well-rounded program.
Here are some things you can add to your program to make sure you have a good balanced workout each week:
Strength training helps to build your muscle and bone strength. It improves your balance and coordination, which is excellent for a multitude of sports. It also boosts your metabolism, making it easier for you to burn off fat as you exercise.
Exercises that will build strong muscles include callisthenics, free weights, and weight machines in the gym.
If you are new to strength training, you may want to run your goals past a trainer. They will help you develop a plan to cross train effectively with exercises that you like. They will also make sure you don't overdo it and risk injuries to your muscles.
Improve Your Flexibility And Balance
Having good flexibility and balance is important for overall wellness, no matter what your age or fitness level is. It is critical for you to warm up and stretch before any exercise. Likewise, stretching after a workout will reduce pain and reduce your chance of getting injuries.
Many people like to add yoga and pilates into their cross training program, as it improves flexibility and balance. Having a supple body with a strong core, allows you to do more and perform better while staying safe.
Cardio exercises primarily work your heart and lungs. However, they all incorporate various muscle groups. By choosing a cardio activity such as swimming, cycling, running, rowing or skiing, you will enhance your fitness exponentially.
Often, it can be difficult to find time to go outside and do these things, or the weather may not be favourable. Therefore, using equipment like the NordicTrainer at home will allow you to enjoy the benefits of cross training without leaving home.
How To Incorporate Cross Training Into Your Week
How much you cross train depends on your current workout program and the amount of time you can spare. However, you should try to cross train once or twice every week. You can either add it to your current workouts or replace a current workout with a cross training activity.
The beauty of cross training is that you can do one form of exercise each day, or more than one in a day. If you do both on the same day, you can mix it up by changing how you do them. You don't have to stick to the same activity every week, as you can easily change the activity to suit your needs, mood and interests. It is a good idea to mix up your routine so you can enjoy the benefits of all the activities available to you.
When you are putting together your cross training routine, it is important that you factor in recovery time. You can mix up your training to train different areas, but you need to rest for you to see the benefits. Also, if you over train, you may incur an injury that is serious enough to prevent you from training for a few weeks.
Training using different activities and exercises will help you work on those areas that don't receive much attention with your usual activity. For example runners miss out on building strength in their arms and may not be too flexible. But by adding yoga and a NordicTrainer to their cross training, a runner can even things out and develop all round fitness and strength.
No matter who you are, training can help strengthen your cardiovascular system, bones, muscles, and joints. Your workouts will help reduce your body fat and improve your level of flexibility, balance, and coordination.
But the best way to look at cross training is that it enhances your chosen activity while opening up possibilities for having fun in other ways.