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Why and How to Cross Train

Last Updated on September 15, 2016 by Jeff

Cross Train

When you love a certain workout or exercise, you want to do it pretty much every day. While it’s always great to have an activity you love, focusing too much on one exercise can lead to burnout, injury and plateau. One way to prevent those things is by adding cross training to your regular workout routine.

What is Cross Training?

Cross training is a workout regimen that uses different types of exercises to supplement your usual routine. There are a three kinds of cross training—strength training, flexibility training and endurance training. Strength training will help you build muscle and get stronger, while flexibility training will help improve your mobility. Endurance training will increase your stamina in just about any sport or exercise.

How does cross training benefit me?

Cross training has tons of benefits for all kinds of athletes. The number one reason most people cross train is to prevent injury. Doing the same workout over and over again can cause an overuse injury. By giving your body a break from the same repetitive motions, you can help your recovery while building strength, endurance or flexibility with another activity.

Taking up a new exercise as a part of cross training can also improve your performance. Instead of only focusing on cardio day after day, adding a couple days a week of strength training will help build muscles that will make doing your cardio exercises a little easier. By adding flexibility training to your strength routine, you’ll have a greater range of motion when you lift and will be less sore as you continue to stretch your muscles.

You can also use cross training as an active recovery day. Instead of spending your rest or recovery day sitting on the couch, you can actually recover better by doing some light cross training activities.

Cross training also gives you the chance to try something new. Maybe you thought yoga was only for vegans or people who wanted to meditate, but if you give it a try, you might find a new activity that you really enjoy.

What Kinds of Things Can I Do to Cross Train?

Anything that works a different component of fitness than your normal routine can be used to cross train. If you normally do a lot of running, you can try a spin class to work your lower body in new ways or swim some laps for a full body workout. You can also try the elliptical for a workout that’s less stressful on your knee and ankle joints.

If you want to improve your endurance and increase your stamina, try doing a long, moderately paced cardio workout such as running or swimming once a week. Endurance isn’t sport specific, and increasing your cardiovascular endurance in one sport will help with your stamina in other areas as well.

To get stronger and build muscle, adding strength training to your routine is a must. You can do simple body weight exercises, use free weights or hit the weight machines. Rowing machines are another great way to build strength, since they work your whole body, as well as giving you a great cardiovascular workout.

For those looking to improve their flexibility, a yoga or Pilates class is a great option. There are many different kinds of yoga classes that each focus on different ways of moving. Be warned, though, it can be a strength workout as well. Stretching machines and foam rollers are other flexibility training options.