Some of the questions people ask about cross-training are:
What are the benefits of cross-training?
What exactly should I be doing for cross-training?
Is there a ‘best’ activity I should be doing?
All of these questions are valid points which I will answer in this article.
By adding cross-training into your training programme you can mix up your workouts. Similarly by trying out different different exercises and different sports cross-training gives your muscles a much needed break. When taking a break from your main activity to cross train you use different muscles, allowing you to reach a higher level of fitness.
Cross-training is ideal for all fitness levels, from beginners getting started on their fitness journey, or an experienced exerciser who wants to take the fitness to the next level. To continue to improve your fitness levels and reap the benefits of regular exercise you need to continually keep your body guessing. This is exactly what cross-training does. The NHS have wrote a great article demonstrating some exercises for strong bones.
So What Are The Benefits of Cross-Training?
1: Injury Prevention
Overuse injuries are the curse for people who are looking to improve their fitness and exercise more regularly. Most runners will suffer from a overuse injury. Showing how important cross-training is and why all runners should use cross-training. If you want to get fitter without being injured cross-training must be a part of your weekly training schedule.
Most overuse injuries are preventable and not always inevitable. Overuse injuries are blamed on a number of different factors such as: inadequate recovery, improper or worn-out footwear and muscle imbalances. Meaning tight muscles or weak muscles which need strengthening. A list of the most common overuse injuries can be found here.
2: Improving Fitness
When taking your fitness to the next level cross-training comes to the rescue in a few different ways. By helping you maintain and gain fitness but also giving your overused muscles a break. Whist also using new muscle groups. By using different muscle groups and giving those tired muscles a break you are developing a better efficiency. You are also creating more strength in other areas of the body. All of this can directly help with other sports such as running. As you can train for longer without getting your typical running injuries.
3: Rehabilitation / Returning From Injury
When an injury occurs or starts to develop the last thing you want to do is return to the same sports in which the injury started in the first place. This is an early indication that straight away cross-training helps and becomes a valuable training necessity when returning from an injury and entering a rehabilitation programme.
The main goal when returning from an injury is to return to your normal training cycle as soon as possible. However it is vital that you take your recovery seriously and don’t rush the return. This is to ensure the injury stays away and stays away for good.
By incorporating cross-training it allows you to maintain your current fitness levels and maintain your conditioning whilst the injured area of your body recovers.
Some good examples of cross-training when returning from injury are: swimming, elliptical training and cycling all these activities offer a low impact demand on the body. You can train these activities at different intensity.
4: Active Recovery
Although periods of outright rest are very important in sport and training. People who perform active recovery sessions will become much fitter and be more conditioned in their sport. Active recovery is a low intensity workout using different muscle groups to help your body recover but at the same time keep your muscles active to prevent stiffness and muscle tightness.
5: Exercise Enjoyment
Research shows that many people drop out of a routine or exercise programme because they become bored, uninterested or injured. By changing up your routine and doing different activities for cross-training you can change your training and help stop any boredom.