Fitness Cheat Sheet: What is Cross Training?
My number-one exercise tip is to cross train. Cross training is a way to vary your fitness program by combining different types of exercise activities. Variety needs to be applied in the four elements of fitness: cardiorespiratory, strength, core, and flexibility. It is important to be well-rounded when it comes to health: making your heart as efficient as possible, building and maintaining lean body mass, engaging and strengthening the core, and retaining flexibility. Training in each of these elements makes you healthier than just doing one or two.
Cross training is an ideal way to develop a balanced fitness program by varying your workout routines. Creating variation engages different muscle groups and keeps a variety of muscles activated. When you do the same type of exercise exclusively, your body builds only certain specific strengths; however, by varying your activity, you broaden your physical abilities. Doing the same exercise repetitively also reduces the amount of activation or stress our body requires; therefore doing a variety of exercises keeps the body constantly adapting and thus progressing.
Ensuring variety and cross training is not only important in each fitness element, but within each element as well. Try these varieties for a change:
Cardio: cardio dance or aerobics classes, bike, run, swim, walk fast, cardio boxing, spinning, jump rope, kayaking
Strength: dumbbells, weight machines, resistance bands, strength-training fitness classes, medicine ball training, TRX
Core: Variety of abdominal and lower-back exercises (plank, proper crunches, bicycles, Russian twists), Pilates
Flexibility: Stretch and relaxation, yoga, foam roller, using a tennis ball or lacrosse to do myofascial release
Sports also count as fitness, too; playing volleyball, basketball, soccer, and tennis, among others, engage cardiorespiratory, strength, and core exercises in one workout. Incorporating these kinds of activities gives you a variety of physical exercise and also makes it fun! Cross training is not only beneficial for our bodies, but also our minds. Cross training helps reduce boredom by changing the mode of exercise. Running challenges the body in a different way than cardio boxing and is also different than swimming, however, all of these are cardio options. Changing up your fitness routine provides new ways to improve your health.
There are only 1440 minutes in a day; schedule 30-60 minutes (two to four percent) of them for exercise!