WP_20140615_010Cross training is just another way of talking about adding variety to your fitness routine. So if you are a runner that means you might add yoga or swimming, do some weight training or even spin sometimes. Switching up your exercise helps you improve overall fitness, lose more weight, banish boredom and even prevent injury.

Cross training reduces injury from muscle overuse

Even well conditioned muscles must be rested. That’s because performing the same exercise everyday can lead to muscle strain and fatigue. Another danger of overuse is deterioration of form and poor performance. Cross training offers a way to continue being active without placing injury inducing demands on overworked muscles.

Cross training reduces injury by building strength

You also risk a sports injury when a stronger muscle has to work harder to compensate for a weaker one. A good example of this is the relationship of weak hamstrings to knee injury. If you are looking for a way to rehab or avoid a knee injury, yoga, Pilates and strength training with a focus on your hamstring can be a good strategy. Alternate these activities with your regular routine to stay injury free.

Cross training reduces injury by alleviating boredom

Introducing a little variety to your exercise plan keeps you on your toes – literally and figuratively. In other words, you are less likely to have the kind of accidents that come from rushing through or just not paying attention during exercise. These kinds of injury have nothing to do with overuse. The culprit here is overexposure. When you are just going through the motions, those motions are more likely to lead to injury.

Cross training builds overall fitness

Muscles quickly adapt to routine. If that routine is limited, you will find as soon as you try anything else that you are ill prepared for the challenge. For example, you may run several days a week and even blast to the 5k finish line but still have trouble swimming without losing your breath. Accustomed to performing well you may push yourself too hard and become injured. Cross training helps you build total body strength. With this advantage you are better prepared to tackle a variety of fitness tasks and remain injury free.

As the old saying goes, variety is the spice of life. The sentiment is important for fitness too. Varying exercise so that you use different muscle groups reduces injury from overuse. Cross train to stay active, interested and injury-free.