Do you find it difficult to reach your fitness goals no matter how hard you try? No, we're not suggesting steroids and unnatural methods to make you perform better. Instead, we're suggesting you switch up your sport for some other activity that will enhance your performance.
The act of performing other sports or workout activities other than your usual routine is called cross-training. In this blog, we will take you through some of the amazing benefits of cross-training, and as you will notice, they are very similar to benefits you get from using the Nordic Trainer on a regular basis.
The benefits of cross-training
The aim of a cross-training routine is to provide conditioning to muscle groups that are neglected during routine workouts. Moreover, overuse injuries are also prevented through regular cross-training.
Furthermore, cross-training can actually be very beneficial for weight loss and improvement of the body's overall fitness. The varied exercises during cross-training, means that muscles are constantly targeted in different ways, which enhances the body's fat-burning systems.
The physical benefits of cross-training accompany the mental advantages. Taking a break from the rut of your daily workout or usual sport can act as a great stress-buster. The release of endorphins when you enjoy a different activity like hiking will boost your mood. Additionally, cross-training can also strengthen bones and increase the range of movement around your joints.
How often should one cross-train?
We know that most people lead busy lives where there isn't room for two hour gym sessions every day. Our suggestion is 3 times per week from 15-60 minutes, depending on what exercises you and what level you are on.
In any case, the outcome of your training depends much more on the intensity of your training and how you mix it up, rather than the number of times you workout. If your goal is to reach a certain weight or muscle strengthening, then 15 minutes on the Nordic Trainer or doing cross-training will give you a better outcome than 60 minutes on the elliptical trainer.
In other words, think less about each minute spent training and how many times per week, but more on how you spend each minute of your training and how much you push yourself. Make sure to rest between your workouts, this will give you the best outcome and that will help you avoid any injuries.
How to develop your own cross-training routine?
Now that we know that cross-training workouts are highly beneficial, how do we incorporate them into our week? By keeping the following pointers in mind when you form your cross-training workout schedule.
Essential components of fitness
The target of each fitness enthusiast and athlete should be to engage the below stated components of fitness, namely cardiovascular endurance, muscular endurance, flexibility, and muscular strength. If you cover these components in your training, you are a long way already.
This refers to how efficiently your body is transporting oxygen to your heart and lungs. In short, it refers to the fitness of your respiratory system. Working on this aspect of fitness will simultaneously ease your daily life functions and enhance your workout performance.
Incorporating cardiovascular endurance in your fitness routine, means doing exercises such as swimming, running og jogging.
Muscular endurance is the ability of your muscles to work continuously without getting tired. Hence, a repetitive motion is best to work out this aspect. Another common term for muscular endurance is stamina. For instance, long distance runners, require a high degree of muscular endurance to avoid muscle injuries or extreme fatigue.
You can improve your muscular endurance by incorporating exercises such as squatting, planking or pushups in your routine.
Muscular strength refers to the force a muscle can produce. This can be different for everyone. While some may have strong calves and glutes, they may be lacking in a strong upper body. A great way to increase the body's muscle strength, is by focusing on single muscle groups through dedicated strength training, e.g. by doing either focused leg work, core work or work for shoulders and arms.
Flexibility refers to the extent of motion that can be performed by your muscles and joints. Although stretching before or after a workout may not seem as the most exciting chore, flexibility work is crucial in order to avoid straining muscles or joints. Even just 5 minutes of flexibility work per workout will make a difference. You need to find the motivation to keep adding flexibility work to your workout.
Creating your routine
Based on the above, you may start to make your workout plan. To make it simple, make a plan with 3 weekly workouts of 45 min each. And to ensure that take all the different components are included, create a focus for each workout, such as cardio, endurance, strength or mobility. 3 workouts per week will allow you to use a day in between each one to rest, another important factor for improving the body's fitness and health.
Varying the intensity of your workout, is another important element for various reasons. First of all, to prevent boredom in doing the same exercise over and over again. Second of all, to ensure that you don't reach a plateau in your workout performance. And third of all, to avoid injuries. Studies show that adding variety to your workouts, will improve adherence.
Let's have a look at different intensities:
Choose this if you're aiming for full-body activation, or a focus on strength and cardio combined. These exercises can include aerobics, skipping, jumping, etc. While these activities can improve coordination, balance, agility, and endurance, they can be detrimental if not done with the correct form.
If you're usually engaging in high-powered workouts and sports like running, it may be time to unwind with these low-impact but high-return activities. Whether it's yoga, walking or strength training, these exercises can really stress-bust while giving those sore muscles some love.
Swimming and cycling are some of the no-impact workouts that can really refresh your mood when you hit the water or the wind, depending on which one you choose. The plus point is that it's a great go-to cross-training workout for those in recovery from injury.
This category can also include the chores that might make you put off working out. Gardening, some form of heavy cleaning, can also count as aerobic exercise. The act of tilling and raking makes your muscles more toned while mopping and sweeping can lead to improved muscle endurance.
But keep in mind that none of the above activities can become full-time replacements for your regular workouts. It's all about creating the perfect mix from each category to form the perfect routine.
Choose something new
If you're still having a hard time forming a routine, we suggest you switch up your workout for something totally out of the box. If you're a footballer, head to the pool. If you're a runner, try aerobics or shooting hoops. You don't need to be great at what you choose. The aim is only to surprise the body with a new routine so maximum muscle groups are engaged.
The Nordic Trainer
In conclusion, there are a myriad of benefits to a cross training workout. The hard part really becomes finding inspiration for training programs that cover the different components stated above. However, with the Nordic Trainer, you are able to quickly improve your cardiovascular endurance, muscle strength and flexibility. And only 3 x 12 minutes per week is enough to see and feel a difference in your body.
The basic movements in the Nordic Trainer activates 96% of the body's muscle mass simultaneously. The result from the total body activation will, amongst other things, be an improved cardiovascular and muscular endurance. Movement in the trainer requires your body to have both controlled and explosive strength, in legs, arms and core. And you need endurance to be able to repeat the movements for many repetitions.
Let's dive into some of the exercises you can do on the Nordic Trainer that align with the concept of cross training workouts, namely switching up the routine, while still incorporating the essential elements described above.
Double poling is the classic move you see from cross country skiing. The move will give a full body activation and you can easily adjust the tempo to your level.
When you get into double poling position, it is important that you tighten up core, and use all the power in your upper body to push yourself down as you pull the poles back behind you. Start slowly for a minute and then take the speed up, going in a high intensity tempo for another minute.
Double poling is great for individuals with former injuries or weak joints, such as a bad knee or hip, as the move has a low impact on joints and muscles.
Bicep & Tricep Curls
Bicep and triceps curls on the Nordic Trainer are a great examples of moves that will give a focused strengthening in specific muscle groups.
For bicep curls, stand at the back of the trainer, also facing the back. While keeping your body still, pull each pole up on your side, making a bicep curl with your arms.
For tricep curls, stand at the front of the trainer, also facing the front. Using the same technique of standing still, only moving your arms, push each pole down on your side, feeling it in your triceps.
For both exercises, start with a low resistance and slowly add more on the trainer as you are getting comfortable with the exercise.
Lastly, squatting on the Nordic Trainer is a great way to improve your muscular endurance.
To get into position, stand at the back of the trainer, facing the front and the with the weight of your body evenly distributed over both feet, carefully sit back into a squat, making sure your torso has a slight forward lean. As you go into your squat, bring the poles forward and bring them back behind your back when you stand up tall from the squat. Repeat the movement for 1 minute before you rest.
Creating a cross-training plan and sticking to it can be challenging, but the benefits outweigh these challenges. You can consider the four components of fitness when you create the plan. If you're unsure about those, then remember to always keep cardio, muscle work and balance/flexibility in your workouts. Choosing something out of the box and out of your comfort zone is what cross-training workouts boil down to. And finally, keep in mind that the Nordic Trainer meets all the basic requirements of cross-training. So next time you get onto your trainer, think about the body is moving and in what way your muscles are being activated.