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Cross Training and the Benefits of Mixing it Up

kikifoster-200x300This blog was written by Laeteashai “Kiki” Foster, PTA.

To cross train means to train in more than one sport, a different skill, or task. Cross training is designed to enhance your overall health and add benefits to the body by way of training muscle groups that aren’t consistently used in the athlete’s primary sport. Continued use of a muscle group may increase the risk of injury by over training. Cross training is a method of combining several different workout strategies for a comprehensive training session.

Balance plays a key role in cross training. To have proper balance, opposing muscles must work together in rhythm. Balance keeps the muscle in proper alignment. Take for example two children on a see-saw. If they are close to the same weight, the see-saw will balance out. If one is heavier than the other the see-saw will tilt towards that child. Running involves muscles at the front and back of the legs, therefore in order to prevent imbalance issues, you have to train the muscles of your core and upper body as well.

Cross training helps prevent and correct muscle imbalances and improve overall health and functional mobility. The benefits of cross training include reducing the risk of injury, enhancing weight loss, as well as improving total fitness and preventing boredom with your exercise routine. When cross training, it is important to vary activities between aerobic conditioning, strength training, endurance and balance. Alternating your workout routines will increase your performance and overall fitness while decreasing your risk of injury.

A good cross training routine should include 3 main components to be effective: cardio, strength training and flexibility. For example:

If you are a runner include cycling, swimming or strength training to experience a different cardiovascular burn and strengthen those pelvic and core muscles.
If you currently focus more on strength training, try implementing cardio into your exercise routine throughout the week for 20 to 60 minutes 5-7 days out of the week.
If you are religious with stretching and yoga type exercise activities, trying running or incorporating a walking warm up and strength training to improve core strength and muscle balance with proper stretching.
Before beginning any exercise routine always consult your physician to analyze your current health status and find what type of exercise program is best for you.

There are many benefits to cross training and how it can improve one’s overall health and well-being. Physical therapists, athletic trainers and sports trainers have recognized the benefits of cross training and these techniques are used in outpatient settings and in the professional sports league all over the country. They have seen impressive results from cross training and the benefits of mixing it up.