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For the Best Returns, Diversify Your Exercises!

Triathlete
Photo by indywriter via Flickr

Are you bored with your exercise routine? Do you dread the workouts you used to enjoy? If you answered yes to either of those questions, then it is time to spice up your workout sessions with a little cross-training. Variety is the spice of life after all!

So, what is cross training?
Cross-training is the alternation of the types of physical exercise you do. Often people cross-train in order to compete in a cross sport competition such as a biathlon (two sports) or a triathlon (3 sports). These competitions are gaining in popularity as more and more people turn to cross training as they realize that it can help them to lower their risk of injury. Doing the same exercise over and over again is just not as good for you body. Not to mention, much less exciting than alternating between different activities.

Why is cross training better?
Cross-training allows you to work different muscle groups than you would through single activity training. For example, if you combine cycling with swimming, the cycling will work on building strength in your lower body while swimming will strengthen your upper body. By alternating your training between these activities, you are able to work different muscle groups while you work on your aerobic endurance. So, correctly done, cross-training provides good overall conditioning that you can’t get by doing just one activity.

Cross-training is also better than single sport training if you are looking to reduce your chance of injury. Why is that? Well, let’s take a look at running and cycling as an example. If your sole form of exercise was running, you would strengthen your hamstrings and calf muscles more than your quadriceps, which could cause a muscle imbalance and make you more prone to injury. However, if you were to add cycling to your routine, the cycling would strengthen your quadriceps as well, reducing the likelihood of you having a muscle strength imbalance which could lead to injury.

How should I start cross training?
So, if you are excited to try cross-training, but are not sure what to do, here are a few tips to get you on your way:

  1. Start slowly: This will help to prevent injuries. When you start a new activity, start out by doing it at a moderate intensity for 10 to 20 minutes per session, and then slowly increase the minutes and intensity.
  2. Pair activities that work different muscle groups: It is best to train different parts of your body to obtain the best conditioning. So, for example, pair swimming with running or kayaking with bicycling.
  3. Buy the appropriate equipment: Whatever activity you decide to take on, make sure that you buy the appropriate equipment (shoes, socks, etc.). This will reduce your chance of getting injured.
  4. Join a gym: Often the easiest place to cross-train is at a gym. Most gyms have a pool, a track, weight-training machines and stationary bicycles, which makes it easier to perform multiple activities.

So, stop being bored with your old exercise routine. Start cross-training. There are so many great activities to choose from to reduce your risk of injury and make your workouts more effective and enjoyable!

Comments (5)

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  1. Marti says:

    Great article! I love working with my personal trainer. But I wish there was a pill I could take that would make me enjoy cardiovascular exercise more! 🙂

  2. Mark says:

    Cross training is my preferred method to get it in gear! Nice tips as always!

  3. Rosy says:

    Love Cross Training, its never boring for sure!!! Nice post!

  4. Maria Isabel says:

    I go to the Gym to do different kinds of exercises whenever I can.

  5. […] also answered Bill Janin’s questions regarding hydration during cross-training and the anaerobic phase in exercise. The primary references used while researching these questions […]

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