What Is Cross-Training? And Why You Should Do It?

Cross-training is a form of exercise that utilizes various modalities to reduce injury and improve overall performance.

The purpose of this is to enhance overall performance and to build strength and flexibility in muscles that an athlete’s core routine may not utilize.

Todd Schlifstein, DO, a sports medicine rehabilitation doctor at New York University Medical Center’s Rusk Institute, states that the harder you train your body for one particular activity, the more stress you put on the particular bones and muscles used for that activity.

Cross-training is also valuable for helping to prevent burnout and boredom that often comes along with a strict fitness routine. To learn more about this popular training method, read below. 

Cross Training Benefits

There are numerous documented benefits of cross training. Here are just a few:

Enhanced Weight Loss

If you are looking to lose weight and lower your body fat percentage, you need to follow an exercise plan that burns a significant amount of calories. Studies have shown that the best way to do this is to exercise for a relatively long time (over 30 minutes), at around 65%, or your maximum heart rate. Cross-training has been proven to burn more calories and increase fat loss more efficiently than performing one single exercise for the same period of time. 

Improved Overall Fitness

Cross-training not only improves aerobic conditioning, but it also improves muscle strength. When an individual performs mostly strength training exercises, they may gain muscle strength, but their endurance suffers. If mostly cardio exercises are utilized, overall muscular strength can suffer. Cross-training improves both of these areas for overall conditioning. 

Reduced Risk of Injury

Individuals who perform repetitive exercises can eventually experience injury in the areas that are being overused, such as joints and certain ligaments. By incorporating various exercises into a fitness routine, all areas of the body are being utilized equally. This distributes stress levels over additional joints and muscles, preventing injury. 

Who Can Benefit From Cross-Training?

Any athlete can benefit from cross training. Even though you may be a power-lifter and can bench press more than anyone else at your gym, you may be surprised to find that chasing around after your toddler leaves you winded. Or perhaps you are the master of the elliptical and can use it for an hour or two at a stretch, yet you wrench your back while bending over to tie your shoe one day.

If each of these individuals had cross trained, these issues wouldn’t occur. So, basically, any athlete can benefit from cross training. 

Cross-Training Workouts

This workout is a simple, basic outline that can be customized to fit anyone’s level of fitness and schedule. Aim to do one session per day. If this does not fit your schedule, aim for at least twice per week. 

  • Session 1: Walk briskly for 20 minutes, then stretch for 5 minutes. Use hand weights or resistance bands to perform upper body exercises for 20 minutes.
  • Session 2: Jog for 20 minutes and then stretch for 20 minutes. Perform any strength training exercises for the lower body.
  • Session 3: Perform an intense stretching/balancing exercise, like yoga, for 30 minutes. 
  • Session 4: Exercise on a stationary bike or rowing machine for 20 minutes, stretch for 10 minutes, then perform strength training exercises for the upper body for 20 minutes. 
  • Session 5: Walk briskly for 20 minutes, stretch for 10 minutes, then perform strength training exercises for the lower body for 20 minutes.
5-day cross training plan for beginners
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