The Importance of Cross Training

I’m pretty sure I have a food baby living in my belly. I went a little crazy with eating this weekend. I feel like I eat so clean leading up to getting in a bathing suit, but once I’m in my bikini on the beach, I let it all loose. It’s like, I’m already half naked, can’t change the way I look in 5 minutes, so I might as well indulge. And I can usually find a few people on the beach who look worse than I do to boost my self esteem. I’m a horrible person. Downfalls of this weekend included clam chowder, ice cream, and cookies. I had to do it for the sake of America.

In the midst of my food comas and face stuffing, I did make it to the gym on the Cape, and it reminded me how important it is to cross train. I definitely have been a spinning fiend the past few months because it’s the most convenient workout for me to do. But I really need to discipline myself and get to the gym at least twice a week to mix it up. I did 20 minutes on the ArcTrainer (my old favorite form of cardio) followed by a circuit on the Bosu ball (shoulders, biceps, and chest) followed by an abs and obliques circuit and HOLY CRAP I was SO sore the next day. Nothing I did was crazy challenging, but it was just the fact that I hadn’t done anything else besides spin in awhile. If you need a little incentive to get back on the cross-training wagon, here are some benefits:

  • Reduced risk of injury. By spreading the cumulative level of orthopedic stress over additional muscles and joints, individuals are able to exercise more frequently and for longer durations without excessively overloading particularly vulnerable areas of the body (e.g., knees, hips, back, shoulders, elbows and feet). People who are particularly prone to lower-leg problems from running long distances should consider incorporating low-impact activities such as elliptical training, cycling and swimming into their regimens. It should be noted, however, that competitive cross-trainers can experience certain overuse injuries due to inadequate muscle rest, an unbalanced workout schedule, or both.
  • Enhanced weight loss. Individuals who want to lose weight and body fat should engage in an exercise program that enables them to safely burn a significant number of calories. Research has shown that such a goal, in most instances, is best accomplished when individuals exercise for relatively long durations (i.e., more than 30 minutes) at a moderate level of intensity (i.e., 60 percent to 85 percent of maximal heart rate). Overweight individuals can effectively achieve a reduction in body weight and fat stores by combining two or more physical activities in a cross-training regimen. They can, for example, exercise on an elliptical trainer for 20 to 30 minutes and then cycle for an additional 20 to 30 minutes.
  • Improved total fitness. Cross training can include activities that develop muscular fitness, as well as aerobic conditioning. While an individual’s muscular fitness gains will typically be less than if he or she participated only in strength training, the added benefits of improving muscular strength and endurance can pay substantial dividends. For example, research has shown that resistance training can help individuals prevent injury, control body weight and improve functional capacity.
  • Enhanced exercise adherence. Research on exercise adherence indicates that many individuals drop out of exercise programs because they become bored or injured. Cross training is a safe and relatively easy way to add variety to an exercise program. In the process, it can play a positive role in promoting long-term exercise adherence by reducing the incidence of injury and eliminating or diminishing the potential for boredom. via Ace Fitness

So, here it is, I’m holding myself accountable by telling you guys I’m going to do cross training twice a week. The last thing I want to do is hit a plateau and not continue to get stronger and faster. I’ll be sure to take better notes of my workouts and share them here. Hold me to it!!

This is my theme for the month.

Anyone have some killer circuits to share? How do you guys motivate yourself to cross train and mix it up?



12 thoughts on “The Importance of Cross Training

  1. For weight lifting, drop-sets are a really good way to periodically shock the muscles. Start with any exercise you like, using the heaviest weight you can do 5-7 reps of , and do a set, go down in weight, do another set, and so on, until you have done 5 sets…with no rest in between. Burn-out sets are good too…pick a relatively light weight and crank out a set of 30 reps or a couple sets of 20 reps.

    You say you spin….run? I am a distance runner. I took the winter off, replacing it with indoor biking. I eagerly returned to running this spring, that is, until I tried to run. About a mile in, I thought one of my lungs had gone offline….calf pain that makes you second-guess walking. Over a couple weeks, I returned to the point of looking forward to knockin’ out 9 miles in 90 degree weather.
    But yeah, running is the ultimate; you can literally focus the exertion on just about any group you want…calves, individual quads muscles, arms and chest, and your abs can make a huge difference.

  2. my poison of choice is riding my bike. go hit the trails with my mtb or just knock out some miles on the road with it. but to mix it up I’ll go in the back yard and use the kid’s swingset to do negatives for pullups since I’m still working up my strength on that. Then I’ll do burpees with pushups as well as using the rings on the swingset for butterflies and the back. good mix. seems to be working. really dig your site. it’s helped me on my journey.

  3. Hey! So on your “enhanced weight loss” point you mention that research has shown better weight loss for individuals training for longer (30+ minutes) and at higher intensities. Do you have any of those studies on hand? I love lifting AND “cardio,” and most of my lifting buddies show research showing that cardio leads to fat gain (there has been several studies, actually :/ ) so I’d be really interested in seeing any of that research you mentioned!

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