Are you a runner? A biking enthusiast? A die-hard elliptical fiend? A prevalent stair-climber?
Whatever may peak your interest when it comes to a good workout is most definitely something you should keep at. If you enjoy it, stick with it.
An important aspect of working out and/or training for something in particular, though, is cross-training. Cross-training is any sport, exercise, or form of activity that supplements your main sport, exercise, or activity. And, although inserting a kettle-bell workout into your running schedule may not sound like the most appealing idea ever, there are many benefits to be gained from cross-training.
Muscle groups become more balanced. Cross-training can give your most worked muscles a break while focusing on alternate muscle groups. Even something as simple as runners working their inner-thighs, which don’t get worked as much while running and can be weaker, can be considered cross-training.
You can improve cardiovascular endurance. You can fall into a cardiovascular rhythm with most activities, especially if it’s a prolonged activity with little incline or increase in difficulty or speed. Mixing in additional workouts can improve cardiovascular endurance by working the body in a different manner. You may not necessarily be working any harder, but your body is breaking out of it’s comfort zone and stressing your cardiovascular endurance. (This is good stress.) This will build and benefit future workouts as well.
Risk of injury is reduced. Muscle groups play off of each other and work together. Balancing strong muscles and weak muscles will help reduce your risk of injury. Low-impact activities, such as water aerobics, can take the stress off joints which can become agitated with repeated activity.
Boredom is prevented. The same workouts over and over again can become tedious. It can be difficult to find the motivation to complete them, and burn-out can sneak up on you very quickly. Cross-training can give you a mental (and physical) break from a habitual workout and can liven up your gym relationship.
You can continue to train with certain injuries, while giving them proper time to heal. Sorry, excuses are not accepted here (with certain exceptions). Even if you have sustained a minor injury, you can continue to pursue other activities. Not only will cross-training maintain your endurance and fitness levels, it can help alleviate the frustration and disappointment that comes with getting an injury. You want to give yourself plenty of time to heal, so listen to your body (and your doctor); there’s usually some form of activity that you can continue to do.
Cross-training can also be linked to enhanced weight loss, because you’re ‘tricking’ your body and muscle groups into doing something different. This can speed up your metabolism; your body can get used to the same workouts, which can sometimes cause a plateau in weight loss. Additionally, it can enhance muscle tone and strength, increasing your overall fitness level.
Whether you’re completing the C25K program, training for the Ghostly Gallop, or working on another personal goal, cross-training can greatly benefit your muscles and fitness level, and pave the way for your successful goal completion.
In addition to strength training and weight lifting, here is a fun chart from 100 Pounds 100 Days with additional cardio workouts you can do to cross-train:
What do you do to cross-train?