This article looks at the benefits of cross training, along with the drawbacks.
Suitable for people of any age and fitness level, workouts involve doing different forms of exercise, either in the same session or on different days.
Cross training can improve sporting performance. It can also be used for faster and more dynamic fitness gains overall, and to target areas of fitness that your main sport or workout neglects.
For example, cycling workouts offer excellent cardio benefits, and they are great for lower body toning. However, unless you use a bike with movable arms, little emphasis will be placed on your upper body.
By making upper body weight workouts a regular part of your fitness regimen, you can strengthen and build muscle in your arms, shoulders, and back.
Weights can also be utilized to develop more power in your legs, which will improve your cycling speed and endurance.
This variation can help improve strength, cardiovascular health, flexibility, and balance.
Keep reading to find out more about the benefits of cross training. We will also look at the drawbacks to help you decide if it’s the right training style for you.
Benefits of Cross Training
The primary benefits of cross training include that it improves overall fitness and decreases the risk of injury. It may also enable you to continue to exercise while rehabilitating from an injury.
Additional advantages of cross training are that it offers unlimited variety, and it can accelerate weight loss. Regular cross fit workouts can also make you stronger and more flexible, and improve your heart health.
Below, you will find more details on each of these positives and negatives.
Improves Overall Fitness
One of the main cross training benefits is that it can target and improve fitness aspects that your usual sport can not.
If you consistently and exclusively play the same sport or undertake the same workout, you will only be working the muscles needed for that activity.
For example, you may be a seasoned weight lifter, but lack flexibility and get puffed chasing after your toddler. By varying your workouts and including stretching exercises and doing cardio, you will address areas that are lacking.
If you’re a runner, you will know that while running is an efficient cardio exercise, it primarily targets the lower body. Using hand weights or doing upper body resistance exercises will enable you to strengthen this area and prevent muscle imbalances. As a result, your speed and endurance on the track can improve.
Decreases the risk of injury
Repeatedly targeting the same muscles places a lot of pressure on the muscles and bones. This can result in overuse injuries.
With cross training, you can do a variety of exercises that target different muscles. This will decrease the likelihood of stress-related injuries occurring. The break will also allow your muscle groups to fully recover between sessions. But, because you will still be exercising, your fitness won’t suffer.
May accelerate rehabilitation
Another of the possible cross training benefits is that it may enable you to continue with your fitness routine as you recover from an injury.
If you’re a runner and an injury prevents you from training, you may find that you can cycle. You will still be strengthening and building power in your legs and improving your cardio fitness without any of the jarring that occurs when your feet make contact with the pavement.
Likewise, with swimming. Swimming tones and strengthens the entire body as it builds endurance. The water will support your body so that virtually no pressure is placed on your muscles or joints. Along with helping to prevent muscle weakness and a loss of condition, keeping active may even accelerate the healing process.
NB: If you are recovering from an injury, check with your doctor before resuming exercise.
Another noteworthy advantage of cross training is that it allows for almost unlimited variety. As a result, your sessions can always be fresh, new, and even exciting.
If you exercise three times a week, you could walk, use an elliptical, and swim one week. Then cycle, use a treadmill and do bodyweight exercises the next. Or you could split each workout between two or three of these activities.
By mixing things up, your fitness will improve faster. You will look forward to your workouts, approach them with enthusiasm, and be less inclined to slacken off.
Reliable weight loss
Numerous studies have shown that weight loss is easier to accomplish by doing moderately intense workouts for at least thirty minutes at a time. (Moderately intense is 60 to 85 percent of maximal heart rate.)
Combining two or more forms of exercise, such as when doing cross fit, is also useful for losing weight and reducing body fat.
Examples include cycling for twenty to thirty minutes, then using an elliptical for the same duration. Or you could jog, then do bodyweight exercises, or using a rowing machine and swim.
Other potential benefits of cross training include:
Can make you stronger
If your sport’s focus is primarily cardio-related, adding resistance exercises to your training regimen will make you stronger. This will ultimately impact positively on your performance.
Can enhance flexibility
Few fitness disciplines enhance flexibility. By adding movements that improve your flexibility, your all-around performance will improve, and you will be less prone to injury.
Can improve heart health
If your main sport or workout lacks cardiovascular benefits, cardio-based cross training workouts will improve your cardiovascular fitness.
With increased lung capacity, you will have better stamina and endurance.
Next, we will look at the disadvantages of cross training.
The Disadvantages Of Cross Training
While there are many positives, there are also a couple of potential negatives to consider. We will look at these below.
To excel in any given sport on a professional level, along with sufficient effort, you will need to put in a lot of time. With cross training, you will be spending additional time doing other workouts.
Extra time will not be required if you are exercising for fitness.
Another of the potential disadvantages of cross training is that you may need to invest in extra workout equipment depending on the exercises you choose to do. For example, if you’re a runner and you want to cross train by lifting weights, you will have to buy a set of dumbbells or kettlebells.
Final Thoughts on the Benefits of Cross Training and the Disadvantages
As you can see, the benefits of cross training far outweigh the disadvantages. It can be undertaken by professional athletes, enthusiastic newbies, and weekend warriors alike.
Regardless of your sport, cross training can help you maximize your performance and achieve new fitness goals. And, the variety the training can add to your workouts is unlimited, so you will never be bored.
Whether you’re a runner, a weight lifter, a cyclist, or you play sport for leisure, cross training can help you improve areas of fitness that may not otherwise be targeted.
So give cross training a try, and take your health and fitness to the next level!