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What Is Cross-Training? Benefits and Why You Need It In Your Routine

September 21st, 2022 | 4 min. read

What Is Cross-Training? Benefits and Why You Need It In Your Routine
Silven Cox

Silven Cox

Motion Specialist // Certified Personal Trainer // EW Motion Therapy Homewood

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Think about a typical week in your exercise routine. On Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, you may decide to focus on cardio by walking on the treadmill, and on Tuesday and Thursday, you may lift weights. Without even realizing it, you are cross-training. Many people do, but is it really good for you? 


While there are risks associated, cross-training is often a vital practice for anyone, from normal working adults to marathoners. When you incorporate it consistently into your fitness routine, you can continue to improve and move better throughout your day. Our trainers at EW Motion Therapy always encourage cross-training for any of our clients, and we incorporate it into any training schedule. Even if you decide to go elsewhere for personal training, we still want to introduce cross-training as something you should focus on in your fitness routine. 


This article discusses what cross-training is, the benefits and risks associated, and easy ways to incorporate it into your routine. With this information, you can build a fitness routine that benefits you in varying areas.


What is cross-training? 

Cross-training is simply the practice of including different exercises or methods in your exercise regimen, either in the same workout or throughout the week. If you like stretching and then some light cardio at the end, you are cross-training. Or, like the example outlined above, you could separate different forms of exercise into different days. This allows you to devote all your energy to one main goal each day. Whatever schedule you decide to adopt, if you include multiple disciplines in your routine, you are cross-training, and you may already be doing it without a second thought.


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What are the benefits of cross-training? 

Along with helping you stay active, cross-training allows you to reap the benefits of multiple forms of exercise. While there is nothing wrong with someone doing exclusively weight training, yoga, Pilates, running, or cycling, many people would benefit significantly from including more than one type of exercise in their programming. For example, while yoga is great for mobility, balance, and promoting good posture and bodily awareness, it may not always be the best choice for someone who needs to work on cardio or build large amounts of muscle.


Cross-training is also a great way to mix things up and keep you from getting bored with your routine. If you are getting bored with weight lifting, you could try adding a Pilates class once a week to give yourself a break. Perhaps you’re a runner who wants to try something completely new - jump into a Zumba class, or go outside for a walk on your off days. 


Are there any risks involved with cross-training? 

There are two sides to the risks associated with cross-training. First, you can run the risk of doing too much. While it is fun and beneficial to include various forms of exercise in your routine, you can run the risk of overtraining if you add too much extra exercise volume at once. While it is possible to do extra at certain times, like running more while training for a race, you need to be mindful of the overall volume and intensity of all the exercises you do and be sure not to push one too hard while focusing on the other. 


Conversely, to continue to progress, you must ensure you are cross-training enough. Especially as you become more advanced, getting your body to adapt to a stimulus becomes increasingly tricky. Essential factors for improvement are consistency, frequency, and ensuring you can measure your progress over time. However, your body will reach a point where it becomes used to the stress level currently being applied, so any improvement will come to a halt or plateau. In such cases, a change in that stress needs to happen. That can be more weight added to the bar, more repetitions, more workouts per week, or running faster or longer than before. You need to slowly increase the difficulty of the exercise over time to make your body continually adapt to new demands and to ensure you are both performing the exercise over a long enough period and keeping track of your progress.


How should I cross-train?

Now you know more about cross-training and how it can help you maintain a consistent exercise routine. As we discussed, there are many ways to incorporate cross-training into your routine, but keeping your goals in mind and adjusting your intensity level over time is vital. A personal trainer can be a great ally in this effort and can give you tailored advice based on your goals and the kinds of exercise you like the most. 


Making exercise fun is essential to maintaining a routine, and cross-training is a great way for anyone to do that. The benefits of the practice are endless, as long as you are consistent and increase the level of exercise over time. We always encourage cross-training at EW Motion Therapy, and our trainers are skilled at adapting exercise plans to anyone of any age or skill level. If you are interested in personal training with us, fill out our personal training self-assessment to see if our program best fits your needs.

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