Thursday, September 9, 2010

Cross-Training: Does It Work??

People often associate cross training with the non-impact exercises they are forced to do when they get injured (which is usually the result of running or another high impact sport). I have to be honest, I started cross training for this reason exactly. I had the mentality that it was the second best thing to do if I couldn’t run. It made me feel ‘better than doing nothing at all’.

However, I cannot scream it loud enough: Cross-Training is one of the best things that ever happened to me!!! In fact, I no longer refer to it as cross training, now it is simply part of my workout routine, but for the purpose of this article I will call it CT (cross-training).

I used to think there was nothing that would make you more ‘fit’, lean, toned or FAST than running. To me, it made sense that the only way to get faster in running was to run, AND what could possibly burn more calories –leading to a better body, right? WRONG!

When I was running, I was constantly injured, I fought plateaus in my speed and endurance; I was skinny as a rail with chicken legs and no tone or definition (think coat hanger) – attractive? Not quite…. However, when I got badly injured, I was forced to not only find temporary CT solutions, but I had to make CT a part of my life. In fact, during this time, I learned and mastered every possible type of CT I could find. At first I hated it, thinking, “I’m not really getting a workout.” “I’m never going to be as fit doing this.” “I’m going to be so much slower.” Instead I had a revelation! Here is what I found:

• Cross Training Burns just as many calories as Running – in the end it’s about your intensity, your energy expenditure, trust me! (Some of you may ask why I put calorie-burn as my first point but I know many men and women who use this as a gage for exercising)

• Incredible Tone and Definition: The variety of exercise you do target a greater variety of muscle groups and so you see fast results

• Avoids/Decreases Overuse Injuries: Varying your workout so you aren’t constantly pounding your body the same way decreases your likelihood of injuries such as stress fractures, tendonitis etc.

• Beats Boredom: Adding variety to your workout keeps you from getting tired of the ‘same old thing everyday. Try something different each day of the week. For example, you may do strength training Monday, cycling Tuesday, swimming Wednesday, kickboxing Thursday, yoga Friday, rollerblading sat etc.

• Break Through Plateaus: If you do the same thing everyday – plateauing is inevitable (both in terms of weight loss and fitness level). One way to break a plateau is to increase intensity, but another way is to cross train with different activities. This helps strengthen other muscles and make you a stronger overall individual, plus keeping your body guessing is the best way to get into the shape of your life. I did my best running with the most cross training.

If you are reading this article, I’m sure you have your own thoughts and perception of cross training, but I ask you to give up your routine for just a short time – unless you have already achieved your peak level of fitness and perfect body - try it! I wouldn’t be screaming this message from the treetops if I didn’t believe it gets results! ;-)


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