Cross Training and Modalities
The body is made to move in a wide variety of ways, and as a result, it thrives when put through diverse movements and exercises. Cross-training involves exercising or training through different styles, methods, and fitness modalities. Balancing a variety of cardio and resistance-based exercise through cross-training is a great way to make sure that all parts of the body stay active, healthy, and strong.
Consistently doing the same exercises and workout styles can become repetitive. While the body and mind can benefit by instilling an exercise routine, neglecting to incorporate some variety into workouts can have detrimental effects on the body. Simply sticking with one form of cardiovascular exercise such as running can lead to high impact stresses, shin splints and a higher risk of other injuries related to this type of movement. Performing the same few strength training exercises has the potential of causing muscle overexertion, which can also trigger injuries throughout the body. Each exercise style has its own advantages, and consequently its own shortcomings. By utilizing a combination of techniques, cross-training works to unlock the benefits and overcome limitations of each training method, in order to improve overall fitness and performance.
A lack of variety can also affect negatively the mind. Some people may experience some level of burnout from repetitive exercise, which can lead to abandoning their training plan and fitness goals altogether. Rather than risking huge setbacks for the sake of an easy routine, including a diversity of movement can work to ward off complacency and keep you focused on your gains and progress.
All too often people get stuck in a cardio rut, slaving away on the elliptical for hours a time, 5 days a week, without seeing any real results. Thankfully, there’s a better way to get in your cardio, while switching things up and staying engaged. If you just want to use one machine, modifying the speeds and intensity levels you use can unlock the benefits of a varied workout. Rather than simply sticking to steady state cardio, keeping a slower pace for long periods of time, working in intervals of high intensity work with higher resistance and faster speeds can dramatically improve your performance.
You have even more to gain by switching up your routine further, by working in other forms of cardio. If you constantly use the elliptical, jumping on a bike, either stationary or outdoors, can help work new muscles and increase your stamina. If you’re a runner, giving swimming a chance can lessen impact on your legs and give your upper body a nice boost.
Just as it’s easy to get into a cardio routine, it’s easy to get stuck in a loop doing the same 3 strength building exercises. Switching up your resistance training can help balance out the body, and ensure that you’re hitting stability and auxiliary muscles, and not just the main muscle groups. Changing the equipment you use is an easy way to accomplish this. On the simple side of the spectrum, you can alternate between use of the barbell and dumbbells, along with working in a nice mix of body weight exercises. Going further, there are a seemingly endless number of other modalities and equipment variations you can use for a well rounded routine. You can design your own program incorporating tools like kettlebells, exercise balls, medicine balls, resistance bands, TRX, weight machines, cable machines, and more. Use whichever you like, and change things up when you get bored or need a new progression).
Utilizing different training styles and goals can lead to balance throughout the body. When thinking about strength training, muscle building and growth are usually the first things that come to mind. While these goals are fine, activities such as Yoga and other exercises that focus on stability, flexibility, and mobility can help improve overall fitness. Going further and incorporating eccentric training into your fitness regimen can be an excellent complement to your current resistance based exercises.
Another method of cross-training is known as concurrent training, where exercise styles are mixed together in the same session. In this way, cardiovascular training can be attained through resistance-based workouts, and vice versa, utilizing the same exercises to reach two seemingly exclusive goals. This can be accomplished through High Intensity Interval Training, or HIIT, where sets of strength building exercises are performed quickly one after another, forming a circuit. Another method to reach this is by using a stationary bike or elliptical set at a high resistance and intensity. Here, the heart, lungs and muscles are all working hard, building up strength and cardiovascular endurance.
Overall, any form of cross-training and keeping the body diversified in movement and exercise, can have a tremendous positive impact. Performing a wide variety of workout styles works to fill gaps in each, increase overall fitness and health, and keep you enjoying your training. No matter what styles you perform, switching things up is key to having fun through staying active.