Why Cross Train?

Author: Shannon Miller Lifestyle

Lifting weights on beach

Cross Training is defined by adding variety to your sport or workout of choice.

In other words, if you are a basketball player, you cross train with another sport and weight training. If you are a runner, you cross train with swimming and yoga. There are many examples, and many ways to cross train, so why is it important?

The American Council on Exercise says that cross training is important in:

  • Reducing the risk of injury
  • Enhancing weight loss
  • Improving total fitness
  • Enhancing exercise adherence

Sometimes, injury is caused by repetitive movement to one body part. Think of a pitcher and his repetitive wear on his rotator cuff. To cross train, the pitcher would weight train around his rotator cuff to give that muscle group some support. He would also train other muscle groups to reduce time spent on his rotator cuff. Do you over-train one body part? Think about repetitive movement and what you can do around that muscle group to give it some support. Then add some other exercises that do not exacerbate that muscle area.

The body gets accustomed to that repetitive motion and basically you will peak. If one of your goals is weight loss or a change in body composition, cross training is important. It is almost like the body says “This again? Ho hum.” The very thing that gave you a kick in the britches in the beginning is not going to continue changing your body. The body needs change and thrives on it. You don’t have to give it up; just add something different in to the routine.

When you do add something new, it’s amazing how you can tell a difference, and how quickly. Your beginning in a martial arts class can change how you use your muscles, can define and shape new muscles, and can add some oomph to your workout. You may find that the main exercise that you love gets even better. You could shave off your time, add an edge, or feel the exercise differently now that you are cross training with something new.

Now you have a repertoire. You are not a one-song-wonder, but a well-versed artist. Having more than one skill makes each skill more interesting and exciting, and each plays off of each other.

Where do I begin cross training?

  • If you are mainly doing cardio, add a weight training element to your workout.
  • If you are mainly weight training, add a flexibility training element.
  • If you are a yogi, add a sport or physical team event.

Need help? Find a trainer near you at the IDEA Health and Fitness Association website.

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