Everyone knows that exercise is good for you, but there can also be too much of a good thing! That’s why many people have turned to cross-training workouts. Cross training allows you to get plenty of exercise without the pain, injuries, and boredom of doing the same exercise routine day after day. So, what is cross training anyway? Technically, cross training means performing two or more types of exercise in one workout or alternating types of exercise in successive workouts. But basically, cross training simply means mixing up your workouts a bit to get a better overall workout.
For example, if you are currently running, you may add weightlifting on certain days and opt for a bike ride or step aerobics on other days. Specific types of exercise can provide the components for a total body workout by enhancing cardiovascular fitness, building muscle, reducing body fat, and aiding in flexibility. However, in order to see all these gains you will probably need to cross train. The diversity your body undergoes from performing a variety of sports allows you to challenge or overload your system much better than simply pursuing one type of exercise.
There are other bonuses unique to cross training. The sheer variety of exercise choices provides both physical and mental stimulation – a good shield against mental burnout. By trying new activities you avoid staleness and find you using new muscle groups and trying new movements. In fact, your fitness level may improve simply because with all those activity choices, you’ll find yourself exercising more.
Reducing the Risk of Injury
Now you may be convinced of the reasons why cross training increases your level of fitness and enjoyment. But perhaps one of the biggest benefits of cross training is how it reduces your risk of injury.
When you focus your workout on just a few areas of the body, you risk wearing down those parts. For example, running works your legs and your heart a great deal, but puts strain on your knees and feet, increasing your risk of Achilles tendinitis, shin splints and stress fractures. Or you may get chronic pain in the knees, heels, or even the hips. These pains are signs that the tendons and ligaments in these areas are wearing down.
Needless to say, when exercise hurts, you tend to do it less. Cross training enables you to keep exercising even when one body part is injured. Just because your elbow is sore from tennis, doesn’t mean you can’t go inline skating or biking. If there is one primary benefit of cross training, it is that it promotes consistency and regularity. People who cross train can continue to exercise regularly even when faced with a minor injury.