Cross Train to Avoid Burnout

Do you find yourself doing the same exercises week after week for months on end? Do you always run for your cardio workouts and stick to free weights for strength training? Your body adapts to the stimulus you give it, so you are training your body to be good at the things you do the most. If you want to be a better runner the best exercise is running. If you are a tennis player then playing tennis and performing tennis related drills are the best ways to improve your skills on the court. Just because it is the best way to improve at a single sport, doesn’t make it the most effective way to train.

If you typically run 3-5 miles a day I’m sure you have no problem running a 5k, but let’s say some friends invite you to go mountain biking or water skiing, or full court basketball. You’ll be fine because you’re in shape right? Wrong! You’ve trained your body to do one thing, run. Your legs may not be as efficient when it comes to biking, your core muscles may not be strong enough for water skiing and your cardiovascular system, glutes, hamstrings and knees may not be ready for the sprinting and jumping of full court basketball.

Cross training is a way of training that incorporates several types of training styles. It is an excellent way to train because it conditions different muscle groups, improves skills in a variety of activities, and limits boredom by varying the exercise routines. Because of the variety it allows your body will be better prepared and perform better whether you decide go swimming, skating, or dancing.

Now, if you are a one sport athlete cross training is beneficial for you as well. It is a great way to reduce overuse injuries from repetitive motions. Think of tennis elbow, jumper knee or pitchers shoulder. These injuries all develop from repeatedly doing the same motion. Because one exercise requires different muscles and movements from the next exercise you can improve your cardiovascular conditioning and limit the stress placed on a single joint by running one day, jumping rope the next and swimming in the following workout.

Cross training also allows you to continue to workout if you become injured. If you’re an avid runner and twist an ankle you may need to stop running for a while. However to preserve your current level of conditioning you can switch to swimming or biking until the ankle heals.

There are countless options when it comes to cross training. Try exercises you enjoy to keep you motivated. Some ideas for cardiovascular conditioning are included below:

  • Biking
  • Swimming
  • Running
  • Jumping rope
  • Speed and agility drills
  • Skating
  • Tennis and other racket sports
  • Group fitness classes
  • Boxing or martial arts conditioning
  • Calisthenics (jumping jacks, burpees, mountain climbers)

In your resistance training workouts you can cross train by including:

  • Body weight exercises (pull ups, push ups, dips)
  • Free weights (dumbbells and barbells)
  • Machines
  • Cables and tubing
  • Circuit training

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