If the idea of doing the same workout routine day after day sounds tedious and boring, cross-training may be the routine to break up the monotony. If you are training for a specific sport or event and want to round out your routine while reducing the risk of injury, cross-training may be what you need to reach your training goals.
Definition and Benefits
A cross-training routine includes a variety of exercises to create a balanced fitness program, allowing your body to better handle a range of stress. Cross-training involves variety, which staves off boredom and encourages you to continue working out. The variety-themed regimen helps your muscles to adapt more quickly to new activities, and you may reduce your risk of injury by not over-using the same muscles repeatedly. An exercise medley may enhance weight-loss efforts, according to Jessica Matthews, a trainer certified by the American Council on Exercise.
Strength training should include all major muscle groups at least twice per week, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A workout of about 30 minutes should give you time to do three sets of eight to 12 exercises for your arms, shoulders, chest, back, abdominals and legs. Setup your daily cross-training routine by using a different movement for each set. For instance, your first set of biceps curls can be done with dumbbells, your second set with a barbell and your third set with an over-handed grip on either.
Daily Cardiovascular Cross-Training
Cardiovascular training should be done for 30 minutes or more, at least five days per week, at a moderate to vigorous intensity. Choose a daily cross-train program by utilizing all of the cardio machines at your gym. Do 10-minute sets each on the elliptical trainer, the treadmill, the stationary bike, the stair climber and the rowing machine; then cool down and stretch.
Weekly Cardiovascular Cross-Training
A weekly cross-training plan includes a different workout for each of five exercise days. Each day, choose a different type of exercise, such as dancing, cycling, jogging, swimming, step aerobics, kickboxing, brisk walking, gardening or water aerobics. Any activity that gets your heart beating faster, increases your breathing and causes you to break a sweat can count towards your cardiovascular goals.
Tips and Cautions
Always warm up before you begin your workout; do 5 minutes of moderate cardiovascular exercise, such as walking. Cool down in the same way when you finish the workout. Incorporate flexibility training into your program by stretching after your warmups and cooldowns. Start slowly and increase your intensity and duration of exercise gradually as your fitness level improves. Always talk to your doctor before beginning a new exercise program.
- American Council on Exercise; What Is Cross Training and Why Is It Important?; Jessica Matthews; September 2009
- "NSCA's Performance Training Journal"; How to Cross Train Your Way to Greater Fitness; Patrick S. Hagerman; February 2002
- American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons: Cross Training
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: How Much Physical Activity Do Adults Need?