The Benefits of Cross-Training

The Benefits of Cross-Training

You may be a dedicated swimmer, one sport athlete, a runner, or only do group fitness classes. Everyone has their favorite exercise.  But we can overdo it, leading to overuse injuries or mental burnout. If you aren’t cross-training you could be setting yourself up for one of these undesired results. 

What is Cross-Training?

Essentially, it’s switching up your favorite exercise to other modalities which work different muscles and joints and reduce stress on overworked areas. Adding other regimens can alleviate boredom and avoid a physical or mental plateau. Every exercise/sport has its benefits, but lacks other elements of fitness. Cross-training fills the gaps.

Different types of training

Cardio: 

  • Running: Cross-country, sprints, trail running
  • Swimming
  • Cycling/biking
  • Rowing
  • Sports: Tennis, Soccer, Basketball, Pickleball
  • Group Fitness cardio classes (Zumba, Dance)

Strength:

  • Calisthenics: Body weight exercises like pushups, pull ups, planks
  • Weight lifting: Squats, Bench Press, Deadlifts, shoulder presses, etc.
  • Weight machines: Leg press, leg extensions, Lat pulldown machine
  • Plyometric: Explosive and power training
  • Group Fitness strength classes (Cuts & Core, LSC)

Flexibility, Balance and Mind/Body:

  • Yoga
  • Dance
  • Pilates
  • BOSU Ball balance training
  • Meditation
  • Tai Chi

Creating a Cross Training Regimen

Your goal is to select activities and exercises that utilize different movements and muscle groups. This will help reduce stresses on the body from a single training type. Customize it by choosing from the lists above.

Some examples: If you’re predominantly a cyclist or runner, swimming once a week instead can be a complementary adjunct giving your feet and knees a rest and working your upper body, while maintaining your cardiovascular endurance. If you favor swimming, try weight lifting to increase muscle strength for those strokes and maintain bone density to reduce the risk of osteoporosis. 

So along with cross training WITHIN disciplines (cardio, strength, mind/body/balance) you should train ACROSS them.  Many people ONLY do cardio, or strength, or yoga.  All components are important.  A sample week: cardio 4 x a week, strength 2 x a week, and mind/body/balance class a couple of times a week.  You don’t need to be at the gym every day, some of these can be done in shorter blocks in the same day, for example 30 min. of cardio followed by a yoga or balance class, or 30 minutes of strength training followed by Pilates or tai chi. Try the Max Out group classes which encompass many formats in one hour.  As per last month’s blog post, rest and recovery are important too!

It’s recommended that you cross-train once or twice a week in addition to / in place of your normal routine. It does not have to be strenuous or your main focus. It’s meant to complement your primary modes of exercise/activity. If you have questions, ask a Certified Personal Trainer to plan a customized routine with you. And be sure to check out the many group fitness classes at The Connection that can help you achieve a well-balanced routine.

By: Russell Graham and Danny Osias, Fitness Center

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