Bored with the same old routine? Mix it up! Cross-training is fairly new, but it’s already a big hit. It lets you challenge your body with new workouts while increasing the benefits of exercise.
KEEP IT VARIED
Cross-training simply means combining two or more activities to achieve a well-rounded
Choose activities that you enjoy and you’ll be more likely to stick to your routine.
There are two ways to cross-train: First, you can choose exercises that work the same parts of the body (such as running and bicycling to exercise the legs), thereby enhancing your performance of each activity by strengthening the muscles used in both. Second, you can choose exercises that work in different areas (such as swimming and aerobic dance) to develop an all-over conditioning routine.
Cardiovascular benefits gained from one sport carry over to other activities. Endurance achieved by walking or running, for example, will let you bike or swim farther.
Vary your sports to lessen the chance of injury. By spreading the stress among different muscles and joints, you lower the wear on anyone area.
TYPES OF ACTIVITIES
It will be easier to plan a cross-training routine if you think of all exercises as being divided into the following four categories. Make sure your exercises don’t all come from the same group.
Aerobic activities should be the foundation of any cross-training routine. Many excellent examples are covered in this chapter, such as aerobic dance, walking, running, swimming, biking, and cross-country skiing. You might also try rowing, roller skating, or canoeing. Aerobic exercises help you develop endurance and cardiovascular health.
Strength training is extremely adaptable and will complement nearly any other exercise (see strength training for more information). Building muscle offers more benefits than you may think, as it can lessen your chance of injury and help slow the natural deterioration of the body that comes with aging.
Leisure activities, such as gardening, bowling, or golf, also have a place in cross-training. They make an enjoyable break from more strenuous exercises.
Sports (such as softball, volleyball, tennis, or basketball) offer aerobic conditioning when played vigorously. Their most important role in cross-training, however, is in helping you enjoy your routine.
PLANNING A PROGRAM
Move into a new sport gradually. Warm-up beforehand, and keep the initial workouts short so muscles and tendons can adjust to new movements.
Invest in the right gear. Good shoes are essential to any exercise involving running, walking, or jumping.
Alternate the intensity and duration of workouts: Follow a long, slow workout with a shorter, more intense session the next day. Avoid doing high-impact activities two days in a row; give your body a rest in between.
It’s easy to overdo it when cross-training, so be sure to pencil rest days into your schedule.
If your legs become sore, switch to an upper-body activity for a few days. If your arms ache, exercise your lower body.
CHOOSE YOUR SPORTS
The four goals of any exercise program are cardiovascular fitness, muscle strength, muscle endurance, and flexibility. Because no one exercise will give your body a complete workout, this chart will help you pick varied activities.
It will also help you avoid common injuries and will pair up compatible sports.
|Body Parts Worked||Advantages||Injuries to Avoid||Complements|
|Swimming||Upper body (chest, arms, shoulders, upper back), cardiopulmonary system||Non-impact, so there’s no great stress to the joints. A good maintenance activity when||Shoulder and neck strain due to overuse, eye and ear infection and irritation||Bicycling, running, walking, climbing|
|Back of the legs (calves, hamstrings), buttocks, stomach. Excellent for cardiovascular fitness||Can be done anywhere. Forces many of the larger muscle |
groups to be used. Easy to attain target heart rate
|Strain to lower tendons and ligaments due to bad form or |
|Legs and waist. Very good cardiovascular activity, depending on the rate||Much depends on the instructor or the program being followed. Variety. Convenience||Overuse injuries||Weight lifting for strength. |
|Stretching/yoga||All parts, depending on the particular stretches||Decreases chance of injury in other sports. |
Helps promote a full range of motion
|Hyperextension, and muscle tears when cold. Torn connectors (ligaments and tendons)||All cardiovascular activities and weight lifting|
|Front of legs, hamstrings, buttocks. Helps |
maintain toned stomach and hips
|Maintains endurance and strength. Demands that the legs |
and aerobic capacity be in excellent shape
|The sport on this list most liable to cause injury due to falls, exhaustion, hypothermia, |
and natural hazards
|Bicycling, running, swimming with kickboard, and weight |
|Entire upper and lower torso; the best cardiovascular workout available||This exercise works more muscles than any other activity. Low impact||Shoulder and hip strain due to overuse or bad technique||Swimming or weight lifting|
|Racket sports||No real fitness benefit, unless extended, highpaced volleys are maintained||Increases flexibility and agility. Builds muscle endurance if played at advanced level||Strains to hand, forearm, and elbow tendons, ankles, and |
knees. Back muscle strain Falls due to traffic hazards
|Running, weight lifting, aerobic dancing, bicycling|
|Bicycling||Lower torso, hips, thighs, calves. If a vigorous pace is kept, it’s also an excellent cardiovascular activity||Non-impact. Less strain and pounding on muscles. Changes in scenery. Variety||Falls due to traffic hazards||Swimming, weight lifting, racket sports|
|Weight lifting||Any muscle group||Builds muscular strength, size, and endurance. Lets you isolate and work specific areas of the body||Muscle strain if too much weight is attempted or technique is wrong||Any aerobic activity (such as running, bicycling, and crosscountry skiing)|