3 Best Reasons Why You Should Be Cross Training

Cross-training, in sports, is a method of training that supports using different modes of training to improve in one specific sport. For example, if i’m a track runner and I want to improve my running speed and technique I might cross train in strength and bicycling to develop or improve certain muscles. This is a highly beneficial way of training for not only specific sports, but also everyday health for several reasons.

Don't get bored with fitness. Decrease Boredom

If you’re one of those people who likes doing the same thing over and over and OVER again then you are a rare breed and I congratulate you for your consistency. If you’re like me on the other hand and have to have variety in you life then cross-training is just your cup of tea. I strategically mix up my strength training, biking, walking, hiking, swimming, elliptical, ballet, yoga, and pilates based on the goals I’m trying to accomplish.

Ok, just to be clear I’m not implying that you should jump from one think to another like a crazy fruit fly, but map out what you’re trying to improve in and what your long term goals are. After you’ve determined that, list the types of exercises you enjoy and how or if they help bring you closer to your goal. Then you can map it out so you are getting variety while still keeping enough consistency to see improvements. It helps if you have an exercise science background, I’ll admit, but if your goal is general health you can break your exercises into three main categories; cardio, strength, and flexibility.

After you’ve done that, pick three from each category every week and schedule them on non-consecutive days. For example, on Monday, Wednesday and Friday I want to do my cardio and flexibility and on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday I’ll do my strength. So, If I were using the exercises I listed above my week would look something like this.

Combine them in any way you like if your goal is general health and fitness. The variety will keep you excited to get your workout in the next day. If you are training for a specific sport putting together a schedule gets a bit trickier. If you need my help in putting that plan together, just shoot me message here.

Decrease Chance of Injury

In addition to decreasing boredom cross-training also decreases your chance of injury. The main reason I see injuries are due to lack of cross-training. I’ll tell you why with my favorite simple word, balance. If you are continually training in only one activity you’re utilizing the same muscles in the same way over and over again. This puts strain on the same tendons, joints, ligaments, ect. causing strain or over-use injuries. A good example of this would be a marathon runner utilizing bicycling in a training regiment.

Let’s call our runner Penny as see what can happen if she chose to only train for her marathon with running. First, the continual impact on her knees would put her at greater risk of knee impact injury such as a torn meniscus. Let’s also pretend she never does any type of stretching. All of her tendons and ligaments are going to continue to tighten so much so that walking up or down a flight of stairs could tear one of them. If she were to add biking and flexibility training she would be minimizing the chance of injury. She would also be improving her strength in running.

Improve Recovery

Not only will cross training decrease your chance of injury, but you will also improve your recovery time. We’ve all been there, done the really tough workout that we are still recovering from the next day. Not moving isn’t the answer to recovery. Adding a different activities that gently works and stretch the sore muscles is the key to recovering faster. One of my students always says “move is lube”. In other words, keep things from getting all jammed up by moving.

This is also known as active recovery. It shortens your recovery time because your body adjusts to moving more and taking lest rest. While rest is important, the rest you get 2 hours after a tough workout is the most beneficial. So, remember, if you’re looking to make fast improvements towards any goal implementing cross training for active recovery is best.

If you need help or guidance on setting up a cross training routine I’m always here to help.





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