Cross Training To Achieve Total Body Fitness

Wednesday, September 27, 2006 - 9:26am

By Michele Silence, MA

Regardless of what your favorite sport or activity is, you can reap great rewards if you bring cross training into your regimen. Cross training is simply mixing up different activities on different days or incorporating several different training methods into each workout. Either way, it can have terrific benefits. Here are just a few.

1.   Cross training ensures better results through variation

Muscles respond better when challenged differently. Doing the same routine day afer day allows the body to become very efficient at the exercise. It ‘learns’ how to expend the minimal amount of energy and effort needed to complete the task. Cross training forces the body outside its accustomed comfort zone.

2.   Cross training avoids using the same muscles continuously and prevents injuries

Giving muscles a break from the usual routine helps prevent overuse injuries. It also helps strengthen other areas of the body that may be weak and prone to injury from everyday activities.

3.   Learning new sports skills or performing occasional sports:cross training keeps you prepared

If you only run or hike you won’t have as much fun when invited to go for a bike ride or skiing down the slopes. It’s always discouraging when you consider yourself fit and find you’re sore and tired after doing something new. Cross training can keep you ready for a number of recreational activities—enough so that you won’t be in agony if you only perform them occasionally.

4.   Cross training works your total body

Mixing up your workout forces a variety of muscles to show their stuff. Muscles constantly challenged adapt in positive ways. The result is improved strength, endurance, and power.

5.   During times of injury cross training maybe a viable exercise option

Because the body moves in so many different ways, chances are that if a minor injury occurs, you’ll still be able to exercise using an alternative activity form. Instead of being off your feet for an extended period of time, you can be getting the same amount of exercise in a different form.

6.   Due to the variety of exercises in cross training it gives you more workout possibilities

When schedules get messed up, cross training can offer great flexibility in that there are more choices available. If you’re traveling and can’t find a bike trail or gym, you can still run or hike. If you can’t seem to get up early in the morning to get in a good run, it may be possible to go for a game of tennis.

7.   Cross training allows you to rest frequently-used muscles

One of the best advantages of cross training is in protecting muscles from injury. When the same activity is performed repetitively, certain body parts endure considerable strain. By switching part of the workout or substituting another movement all together, that repetitive motion ceases and muscles get to move in an alternate manner.

8.   Cross training = variety = avoid burnout and boredom

No more hum drum workouts. Cross training can give you as much variety and challenge as you like. Mix it up. Over the days or even on each individual day. The more activities you enjoy, the more you can substitute in and out of your workout regimen. You’ll stay interested, fresh, and attentive. Each is important for the habit of lifelong fitness.