It is hard to believe that it is really only over the last fifteen years that cross training has become a part of most athletes’ training schedule. Cross training involves incorporating a variety of different types of exercise into a training programme, such as resistance training, stretching (including yoga and Pilates) and non impact endurance sports, such as cycling.
Running puts more strain on the body than any other form of exercise. Overuse injuries abound but these can be reduced and even avoided with endurance and stretch cross training. The lower back, knees and ankles take a constant pounding when running and injuries are caused by weaknesses in important stabilising muscles, so give the lower back, knees and ankles a rest and strengthen other parts of the body. Put on your reflective safety vest or a reflective belt and go for a 60 minutes ride, or swim for 45 minutes on your running rest day.
Cross training comes into its own when it is comes to injury rehabilitation. Not only does it allow damaged tendons, for example, to heal but it also helps athletes maintain fitness while their injury is healing. A soccer player can swim and do weight training while recovering from a hamstring injury and so maintain a good level of fitness.
Many studies have shown that weight loss, fat reduction and toning are most successful when a cross training programme is followed. This could incorporate cycling, swimming, the use of an elliptical trainer and stretching classes, such as yoga and Pilates.
IMPROVED MENTAL AND PHYSICAL HEALTH
Cross training improves both your muscular fitness and cardiovascular fitness and helps prevent injury. It also assists with alleviating stress and improves productivity in the workplace.
IMPROVED LONG TERM EXERCISE
It has been shown that people who take part in cross training programmes are far more likely to stick to training in the long term. This is because injuries are fewer and the variety of exercise stops boredom from setting in.
Cross training can be performed in two ways, either you can choose to do a different type of exercise a couple of days a week, or you can alternate activities in a single workout. This is very much a personal choice and depends if you have one sport you are particularly passionate about and want to pursue ahead of all others.