Woman training at the gymThe Did you ever hear the story of the beefcake muscle builder who challenged the marine to an arm wrestling match? For whatever reason, the large, overly-muscular body builder either felt threatened or wanted to show off by beating this marine. The marine was much smaller than the buffed-up beast, and the match didn’t last very long… for the body builder. How could this happen? How could a strong, but much smaller in stature, marine defeat an enormously muscular man who could clearly bench press more weight or curl heavier dumbbells?

The answer is training. For a marine, the training they endure is more or less considered cross training. They perform all types of workouts, mainly dealing with their own body weight. They run, swim, do pushups and pullups, and calisthenics like burpees and jumping jacks. What does this do for a marine? It gives their body exposure to all sorts of different movements and requirements. They are much more adept to any type of workout thrown at them, and for that reason they are very strong.

Body builders, and this term includes those gym-rats who solely lift weights and not just the competitive “flexers” who over-tan and put baby oil on, focus on one thing: muscular strength. They don’t do much cardio work, as the extra calorie burn might affect their ability to add muscle. The lift weights constantly, and aesthetically they look perfect. Every muscle is ripped. Each major muscle group is well-defined and large. But how strong are they really? They are definitely strong, and the intent is not to pick on these guys are gals, but simply to use as an example of what doing the same type of training on a constant basis can do to you.

Would a cross training workout be best for you? You need to ask yourself that question. If you find yourself training for a marathon, for example, and all you do is run, is that the best course of action? Cross training gives your muscles, heart, and lungs the chance to feel a new type of training. For starters, you won’t get stuck in many ruts while cross training. If you biked for 25 miles while training for a marathon, how many different muscles do you feel would get worked than simply running? A lot. The same is true of swimming.

If you are a swimmer, why not try some plyometrics to gain explosiveness and power that can easily be translated to speed in the pool? A lot of questions are being asked right now, but these are questions you need to be asking yourself based on your type of training. Cross training could be just what you need to break out of a rut, confuse your muscles, and add variety to your workouts.