Cross Training- Why EVERY Athlete Needs to Incorporate It?

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What is Cross Training?

 Cross training is an exercise plan that uses various forms of training to optimize a specific area of fitness or physical skill. Cross training is done in many different ways (from walking, to biking, to swimming), and all professional athletes are trained to do some form of cross training. It is used as the prime tool for athletes to keep and maintain, diversify, and improve their fitness level from the season.

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It is especially important for athletes in sports where weather conditions do not permit them to utilize their skills during off-season (i.e winter sports) to implement cross training.

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Reasons to Start Cross Training?

Now that you know just how handy and important cross training is for athletes, you may be convinced and ready to implement some into your own routine. If you’re not sold just yet, here are two reasons to get you there.

1. Health Benefits!

Regardless of being a professional athlete or not (most of us are not), many of us just care about fitness. But, what is true fitness? Fitness is typically defined as an optimal state of physical capability, cardiovascular conditioning and health. So, we know being “fit” is not just looking a certain way but performing athletically at a certain capacity too.

This is where cross training comes in. Cross training helps to diversify your skills, by implementing exercises that develop all aspects of fitness (cardiovascular endurance, muscular strength, muscular endurance, flexibility,  and body composition). This is especially important for those who find themselves in weight loss or exercise plateau. Studies have shown that cross training, or just including different types of exercise into your workout routine, offers more health benefits than sticking to the same regimen, and even reduces risks of cancer. Some other health benefits include:

  • Enhanced weight loss
  • Improved total fitness
  • Improved Cardiovascular Health
  • Less Plateaus

2. Athletic Performance Benefits

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The truth is endurance athletes vary their exercise regimen, cyclists are swimming and lifting weights, swimmers are taking up running, and marathoners are starting to weight-lift, and do yoga. Research has also shown that cross training can be found to improve other aspects of health such as conditioning, strength, flexibility, and coordination.

 Incorporating diversity into your workout routine can also do wonders to reduce injury. Interchanging exercises shifts the stress of exercise to other muscle groups and joints throughout the body. This reduces strain and overload, while strengthening the other muscle groups; allowing the body to continue daily exercises without injury. Here are other performance benefits from cross-training.

  • Enhanced exercise adherence
  • Reduced risk of injury
  • Lower body fat
  • Better muscle tone
  • Higher exercise intensity
  • Greater muscle strength

Rules When Choosing Your Cross-Training Exercise

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Though the benefits of cross training cannot be denied, there are a few rules you should keep in mind when trying to diversify your usual gym regime. Here are four rules to keep in mind.

1. Go slow and Incrementally.

The last thing you want to do is go full throttle and add another full workout plan to your existing regime. When beginning to implement cross training, start with one to two days a week of a distinct exercise you enjoy, for 30-60 minutes, and increment as your conditioning and ability grows. This is the best way to avoid injury and physical exhaustion.

2. Be mindful of the type of exercise you incorporate into your routine.

Think about the type of exercise you are going to incorporate into your regimen. Try to go for an exercise that works out a complex muscle group relating to your primary exercise of choice for example, say your primary sport is skiing, a good alternative exercise could be something like swimming that strengthens your core and upper body, while having a lower impact on your lower body.

3. Match the duration of your alternative workouts with the length of your usual.

Try not to overdo it with the time of your alternative exercise. As stated a good rule of thumb, is one to two days a week 30-60 for minutes. But, especially when first beginning to implement cross training into your workout routine, it is important to not exceed the time of your regular training day because of muscle fatigue and injury.

4. Whenever you feel tired of doing an alternative workout, stop!

This one is pretty simple and to the point. It’s important to remember that the point is to improve your performance for your primary form of exercise. So, if at all your alternative form of training is interfering with your physical capability for your primary form of training, it’s okay to ease up the intensity or switch up the exercise.

Mix Things Up With these 5 Cross Training Workouts!

– Skiing

– Swimming (Water Aerobics)

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– Hockey (Skating)

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– Yoga

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– Weight Lifting

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