You probably don’t eat the exact same menu every day of the week, so there’s no reason your workouts each day should look the same, either. One of the best ways to stay in shape is to cross train, participating in a wide range of different activities to promote overall fitness and reap several other health benefits. Rather than being a one-trick pony, consider some of the benefits of cross training and learn how to get started.
What Cross Training Can Do For You
- Prevent injury: Although you can never guarantee that you’ll avoid injuries, cross training is one of the most effective preventive measures you can take. Participating in a different activity from what you usually do gives your body a chance to recover from its usual patterns while still maintaining your overall fitness and training intensity. Through cross training, you can prevent specific joints, tendons, ligaments, and muscles from getting hurt through overuse.
- Improve recovery: Just as interval training is a popular way to get more intense exercise mixed in with periods of recovery, cross training is a way to do this on a bigger scale. Rather than taking a day off when you need a break, use cross training as a form of active recovery. Switch to an exercise that is outside your normal to help your body recover while still pushing yourself forward toward your fitness goals.
- Increase fitness level: Participating in a wide range of activities improves your overall body condition and fitness level. Even if you’re good at one particular sport or activity, that doesn’t mean you’re a balanced athlete. Cross training can bring some of that balance and help you to be truly fit, not just good at one activity.
How to Launch Your Cross Training Workouts
1. Brainstorm the types of activities you may enjoy. If you typically run, which focuses on the lower body, consider rowing or swimming to focus on your upper body on recovery days. If you participate in high-impact sports like football, something like running on a treadmill or elliptical may provide a much-needed break for your body.
2. Invest in the fitness equipment you need to enhance your cross-training workouts. You might need resistance bands, a chin-up bar, a stationary bike, goggles, or something else to help you complete your workouts according to your schedule and routines.
3. Create interesting workouts with a variety of activities planned. One type of workout you may want to try is a 21-15-9 cross fit workout. In this, you start by doing 21 repetitions of each of several activities, like burpees, squats, and push-ups, then you repeat the circuit with 15 repetitions and then 9 repetitions. The variety helps you stay engaged.
4. Challenge yourself during your cross training workouts. Even though you’re not participating in your primary activity, you should still be working hard. Try an interval workout where you integrate sprints, or get together with someone who participates in the activity regularly to show you the ropes and push you more than you would be able to push yourself.
There aren’t many specific rules you need to follow when you’re cross training, which gives you the freedom to take it in whatever direction is most appealing to you. Jump on the opportunity to try a new activity you’ve always been interested in, to join friends in their favorite activities, and to work your body in different ways. Not only will you have a good time, but you’ll reap health and fitness benefits that translate back into your primary activities.
Thomas is an avid runner who is constantly looking for new ways to cross train. In his spare time, he enjoys blogging on behalf of Sears and other brands he loves.