Billy Khumalo, one of the members of our panel of experts and a Personal Trainer at Virgin Active Morningside, always recommends cross training to his clients. Here’s why he believes it’s so beneficial to stick to a well-rounded exercise routine.
Cross training allows you to use several different modalities of training styles and muscle groups to help you develop a specific component of your fitness, prevent injury, encourage active recovery and keep motivation high. Let’s take runners as an example. A typical cross training regime would involve a different kind of exercise that complements or supports your current running schedule. Yoga, Pilates, Swimming or Cycling are great exercise alternatives that equally challenge the body while eliminating the repetitive nature of running.
1. Cross training reduces your risk of injury
If you’re routinely training or working towards a specific goal – i.e., a marathon or your weekly parkrun – you generally undertake the same kind of exercise that uses the same muscle groups and body parts. If you’re a runner, the repetitive movement of walking, jogging or running regularly could result in knee or your hip pain associated with repeated impact over time. Cross training is key to minimise your risk of injury in the long term, as you get to rest certain components of your body, while maintaining relevant fitness levels and reducing training downtime. Overall, cross training can make you a better-rounded ‘athlete’, by improving other fitness elements, such as your posture or gait, coordination, agility balance, strength, speed and greater endurance.
2. Cross training and weight loss plateaus
If you’re trying to lose weight, after a certain amount of time (generally a few weeks or months) of doing the same exercise routine, your body begins to adjust and reaches a plateau, where it seemingly stops responding to whatever regime you are subjecting it to. It’s, therefore, essential to stimulate your body differently through cross training. In this way, the training will remain fresh while ‘surprising’ the physiological system, so that it is perpetually fine-tuned for fat loss. Cross training gets other parts of your body moving to help you lose those last few stubborn kilos.
Try a mix of the following types of exercises for weight loss: high intensity interval training (HIIT), strength training, combined with Yoga or Pilates for toning.
Substitute your speed training interval runs with the following exercise cross training circuit. Doing these in sequence without rest to completion will count as a set and will give you similar cardio-vascular results as a run.
• 10 burpees
• 10 dumbbell snatches
• 30 seconds mountain climbers
• 10 barbel overhead thrusters
3. Long term motivation
Cross training can help you break the cycle of sameness, especially if you find yourself doing the same kind of exercise or training routine week after week. This can get quite boring and may cause you to lose interest. Adding some variety into your exercise schedule might add that extra motivation to keep you challenged and help you increase your goals.
4. It's easier than you think!
There are various ways to introduce cross training into your regular workout schedule, whether it’s with a qualified Personal Trainer who can curate a personalised routine for you, or by adding a few on-demand workouts from home. Mix things up in 2022 with Yoga, Pilates, Boxing and HIIT for increased gains and an elevated fitness experience.