Do you have a favorite exercise routine that you never change? Have you found your go-to workout that is quick and easy, but offers no variation? Being stuck in a workout rut is not only boring, but can also prevent you from reaching your fitness goals. Athletes use cross-training to maximize their power and skills, and the same principles can work for anyone. Don’t underestimate the importance of cross-training: it helps prevent injury, allows a higher level of overall fitness, helps keep you motivated – and it’s fun!
What exactly is cross-training? It is simply combining more than one type of exercise into your routine. Cross-training can be any combination of activities, such as aerobic exercise, weight lifting, swimming, running, yoga, or cycling. The best way to cross-train is by alternating the activities you do each day, such as weight lifting one day and step class the next.
Doing the same movements and working the same muscles without variation can lead to muscle strain and other more severe injuries. Even athletes must change their routines to avoid injury. Think the pro tennis player just practices tennis all day, every day? Not hardly. The tennis training is important, but so are the strength training, sprints, and flexibility exercises she also incorporates into her workout. Repetitive exercise can cause injuries and pain, so it is important to allow our muscles to rest and heal; incorporating cross-training helps ensure that we aren’t overworking the some muscles and leaving out others.
No variations in exercises can cause you to reach a fitness plateau – and who wants to do all the work with limited rewards? Mixing up your routine is the best way to make sure your body is in the best shape it can be in, with every muscle being used to its maximum potential. Cross-training helps build the complete package of strength, flexibility, and endurance – and usually increases weight loss, too!
No matter how much we love one activity or sport, doing the same thing every day can get monotonous. Participating in more than one activity can make exercise more interesting and pleasurable, which will help keep you on track and motivated. If you are a runner, choose a couple of days per week to stretch your body in a yoga class. Love to lift weights? Add in a little cycling or walking on the treadmill to bring up your heart rate.
Find activities that you enjoy doing, and working out no longer seems like work. A well-rounded exercise routine is the best way to be the lean, mean exercise machine you want to be!