Cross-Training and How It Can Help You

Cross-training for athletes is when an athlete trains in a sport other than the one he competes in with the goal of improving overall performance.  It takes advantage of the effectiveness of each training method and overcomes it weaknesses by incorporating others. Whether or not you’re a professional athlete, you can still participate in cross training and reap the benefits.

The biggest advantage of cross-training is the reduced risk of injury. By alternating your routine and spreading the physical stress over the muscles and joints and not overloading particular areas such as the knees, hips, and shoulders, people are able to exercise longer and more frequently without injury.

Cross-training can also help you improve your overall fitness by incorporating activities that develop endurance and strength. Although someone won’t be as strong as if they did only weight training or have the same cardiovascular capacity if they only did aerobic exercise, they will be well rounded and have the benefits of both activities.  Many muscles contribute to a single activity and to make the most of that activity, individuals must pay attention to all the muscles involved. Not only does this help with your exercise program, but it also enhances your daily life and makes you more functionally active.

Those who engage in cross-training also stay with an exercise program longer.  People often stop exercising because they become injured or bored. Cross-training promotes adherence to exercise by adding variety to reduce the risk of injury and boredom.

For those looking to lose weight and reduce their body fat, cross training can help with those goals. Studies have shown to best reduce weight and body fat, individuals should exercise for durations of 30 or more minutes at 60 to 85 percent of max heart rate. By combining two exercises such as swimming for 20 minutes and then jogging for another 20 minutes, individuals can meet the requirements and have a complete program.

The easiest way to get started in a cross-training program is to vary your workout daily or alternate activities within a single workout. Cross-training doesn’t require specific exercises, it just means including activities for strength, endurance, and flexibility. Think outside of the gym too.  Skiing, hiking, and rock climbing are other ways to stay heathy and add variety to your fitness routine.