An exercise regimen that uses several different types of training activities is called a cross training program. We explain this approach to exercise and explore its benefits.
Time is precious. Many of us value fitness, but we want to make our exercise time as efficient as possible. Enter cross training. This approach to exercise is based on the idea of varying exercise activity from session to session. During one session, the concentration may be on resistance training. Another session may be all about Pilates, and a third might involve running or cycling. Some people alternate between activities, running one day and biking the next. Others alternate activities within a single workout. They might use a treadmill for ten minutes, move to an elliptical trainer for ten minutes, and then cycle for ten minutes in a single session.
The benefits of cross training support athletes and individuals who are simply committed to a fitness program:
- Reduced injury risk. Cross training spreads orthopedic stress over more muscles and joints, allowing you to exercise more frequently and for longer periods without overloading a single area of the body. This lessens your risk of an overuse injury.
- Better weight loss. Research tells us that it is easier to lose weight when we exercise for more than 30 minutes at a time, with moderate intensity. Cross training supports this goal without overtaxing a single set of joints or muscles by enabling you to combine two or more activities. For example, you can spend 30 minutes on an elliptical trainer, and then an additional 30 minutes on a cycle.
- Improved total fitness. By combining exercises that build muscular fitness with others that develop aerobic conditioning, you get a “total body tune-up.” Also, exercising various muscle groups can help you adapt to new activities.
- Stronger commitment to exercise. According to researchers, boredom and injury are two reasons for losing interest in an exercise program. The variety of activities in a cross training program diminishes injury risk and gives you a greater variety of exercises to hold your interest.
Sold? It’s easy to incorporate cross training into your exercise program by simply alternating between activities. Run on one day, cycle the next, and hit the elliptical trainer on the third day. Look at you! You’ve just updated your exercise program in a healthy and challenging way.