The benefits of adding cross training to your exercise routine

What is cross training, and why is it important to your health?

Exercise has many benefits and most are aware of these benefits especially during this time of year when so many are trying to adhere to a new or enhanced exercise program. Cross training can help with the New Year’s resolution of a new exercise plan. Cross training is choosing different exercise activities for example if running is performed on most days but biking is another form of exercise completed on the other days, this is cross training. Cross training is defined by American Council on Exercise (ACE) as an exercise regimen that uses several modes of training to develop a specific component of fitness.

Benefits of cross training

It keeps boredom at bay

Most people like their routine once they have it established and do not like to vary this routine. They set out on wheels, foot, or skis (this is Michigan after all) for the same route they chose yesterday knowing exactly how long it will take them, the things they will see, and how they will feel afterward. Doing this same routine day in and day out without variation gets tedious and boring. This leads to finding excuses not to exercise with more exciting things going on. Cross training can be used to add variation to any exercise routine. Different exercise styles offer different feelings of exertion and satisfaction; this can help keep you motivated to continue exercising. By cross training and changing the routine, it is more interesting to see new routes, and gives a different feeling by increasing motivation to continue a regular exercise program.

Muscles become fitter if exercise is varied

Exercise causes the body to work hard by increasing the demands to breathe harder, increase blood flow and increase muscle loads. In a sense, exercise stresses the body, but this is a positive stress. This stress requires to the body to adapt making these demands easier over time. If the frequency, intensity, time and type (F.I.T.T. principle) of exercise is the same every day, the body gets very good at it; it has no reason to continue to become better or fitter. On the other hand, if the frequency, intensity, time or type of exercise changes regularly the body must continually make advancements and increase fitness.

Increased metabolism

Stagnant exercise routines cause stagnant metabolism. Caloric expenditure will not increase if the body has already gotten used the energy and task requirement. As mentioned above, exercise systems will require more energy usage thus requiring an increase in metabolism.

Decreased injury

Anytime one type exercise is repeated over a long period, the possibility of injury increases especially when weight bearing or high impact exercise is concerned. Repeated similar exercise over time puts muscles, joints, and bones under stress, if there is not a change or rest, there is a higher risk of sprains, strains or worse.

Exercise is important for everyone’s wellbeing and it is much easier to get moving when changing a route or exercise routine, asking, “what should I do today?” Choosing different exercise each day by cross training keeps boredom away, increases metabolism, decreases the risk of overuse injury, and muscles get fitter faster by consistently making the body adapt to fluctuating exercise demands.

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