These days more and more athletes are turning away from the ultra-focused approach of training only in their primary sport or discipline. Cross-training is a method that lots of people now use to vary their workout and target more skills and body parts as part of their usual exercise regime. But why is the traditional one-sport approach being abandoned for what might seem to be a less focused way of training?
Avoid Repetitive Stress Injuries
Training the same muscles all the time means that you’re putting a lot of stress on those specific areas that relate to the sport or exercise that you usually practice. Varying your workout by cross-training in a range of different disciplines allows you to exercise other parts of your body, allowing some areas to get a work out while others get to recover. This is especially true for joints – runners, for example, can allow their knees and ankles some down-time without having to sacrifice days of training by doing some low-impact exercises like swimming or cycling instead. This way they’re keeping their fitness levels up to scratch without having to run every day.
Increased Fitness and Strength
By taking part in a wide range of physical activities that focus on different parts of the body and different elements of fitness you can take an all-over approach to exercise. By varying your workout you can increase your fitness or strength in more areas than just those targeted by your usual workout activity. For example, a weightlifter who cross-trains by jogging and swimming might find that his/her overall fitness benefits greatly because he/she is targeting cardio rather than just building muscle mass.
Target More Muscles
Again, if an athlete is only ever training in one sport or discipline then only the parts of the body that directly relate to that activity are getting a workout. With cross-training, athletes get to expand the reach of beneficial exercises to include muscles that wouldn’t usually get a workout with just the one exercise. For example, a cyclist might be working the lower-body muscles intensely and often, but by cross-training with some rowing and swimming, the muscles in the upper body will be strengthened. Cross training is an ideal way to widen the scope of your workouts and target more muscles than you could through only one activity.
Focus on a Wider Range of Physical Skills
If you’re only doing one form of physical activity all the time then you’re probably really fine tuning all the physical skills associated with that exercise, but you may be surprised to find yourself lacking in other areas. Perhaps you can run a marathon but when it comes to playing soccer you just don’t seem to have the coordination down pat, or trying out a yoga class you discover your core strength is letting you down. By cross-training you’ll allow yourself a chance to develop a much wider range of physical skills. You can focus on speed, endurance, coordination, cardio, muscle strength, core strength – you’ll be able to develop all of these skills rather than focusing on only those that you need for your usual sport or activity.
Add Variety to Your Workouts
Exercise should not just be effective but it should be fun. Cross-training is a great way to make your fitness regime exciting and varied. Doing different activities means you get to learn new skills, try new things, and even meet new people. Choosing team sports or joining training groups for a number of different disciplines can add a social element to what might have been a previously solitary work-out grind. There are lots of benefits to cross training whether you’re serious about your sport or you’re just in it for the enjoyment. It’s time to work your way through the pools, gyms, tennis courts, running tracks and bike shops in Sydney to find a whole array of fun new workout activities to suit you.
Written by Jessica Smith. Jessica is a fitness instructor and personal trainer who loves helping others achieve a healthy and active lifestyle.