What is Cross Training For? Amplify Your Training!

Cross Training
Courtesy of Cross Fit JBLM – McVeigh @ flickr.com (no changes made)

What is Cross Training For

Everyone knows that exercise is excellent 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 repetitive exercise routine over and over.

For example, if you are currently running, you may add bike ride on certain days and opt for weightlifting or step aerobics on other days. Specific types of exercise can provide the elements for a total body workout by improving cardiovascular fitness, reducing body fat, building muscle, and helping inflexibility.

How to Start with Cross Training

Whether you want to become a stronger and more efficient runner, you are recovering from an injury; you want to stay fit or want to lose weight – cross-training is excellent for you. Cross training always includes three different stages that combine flexibility activities, strengthening exercises, and aerobic training. Choose three various activities that you enjoy, one from each type of workout. These could be three different sports or just three different machines in the gym, just whatever you think you will enjoy doing the most. Mix these up and do 30 minutes per day with one or the other.

Start Early – Begin a fitness program with running only, and after that, you will put more of repetitive stress on fragile muscles like the Achilles tendons and calves. However, if you run one day and bike the next, your hamstrings and calves get a break on cycling days and your quadriceps get a rest when you run.

Mix it up slowly – Whether you have started exercising, it’s critical to take up new exercise slowly. Even if your heart and lungs aren’t the limiting factors, your muscles and tendons are, and if you don’t coddle them, you’ll have problems. Take it slow and easy when you’re taking up a new sport, no hard effort for at least four to six weeks. First, build strength and condition the muscles. Don’t worry about speed; just go slow and have fun.

Split Up the Workouts – by doing two different aerobic exercises during the same workout, you can sidestep fatigue to a degree. Substituting the onus to a different set of muscles in mid-workout will let you push harder. This will help maintain a higher calorie burn. Remember, calorie burn differs from person to person, but usually if you spend 20 minutes on the treadmill exercising at 80 percent of your maximum ability, and then hop to the cross-country ski machine for 20 minutes at the same intensity, you’ll burn approximately a third more calories than you would have when running on the treadmill at 60 percent effort for 45 minutes.

Location – Most of these sports can only be done in a fitness park and only at certain hours. Find a site that can be convenient so you can exercise freely.

Tips and Tricks

Regardless of what kind of cross-training activities you choose, it’s important always to incorporate plenty of stretching into your routine. Pay particular attention to the specific muscle groups that you are working on but only stretch mildly before your routine. Leave the big stretches for after your workouts when your muscles are loose and heated. Over time, consistent stretching will lead to increased flexibility.

When you decide to cross train, it’s important to make smart choices about what three activities you’re going to be doing. While it’s important to pick activities that you enjoy, it’s equally important to choose ones that aren’t counter-intuitive to your goals, especially if you’re a serious athlete that is preparing for a competition or race. Picking the wrong activities could lead to injuries that take you out of the competition. For example, if you’re a marathon runner, you wouldn’t want to cross train using any sports that might lead to twisted ankles like racquetball or tennis. Likewise, basketball players should avoid training with activities that add unnecessary strain to their shoulders, like chin-ups.

Cardiovascular exercises such as cycling; swimming, skiing, running, rowing, skating, etc. should ideally be a component of cross training. You can even try some sports like basketball or squash.

If you love weight lifting alternate between straight sets, cardio circuit sets, upper/lower, super-sets, and by mixing weights and reps.

For yoga try different types or have a dabble in Pilates, Tai Chi, or other forms of deep stretching

Try exercise DVDs, dancing, classes, or even switch from an indoor machine to trying the same activity outdoors.


There are a variety of aerobic activities to choose from. Always remember that your weight helps determine how many calories you will burn. For a given level of exercise, heavier people generally burn more calories. To get the most out of a cross-training program, you may want to work with a knowledgeable athletic trainer or fitness coach.

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