The Importance Of Cross Training

Updated: Feb 11, 2019

Today, I’m going to talk to you about cross training. Now this is not the same as CrossFit, that’s a fitness brand. Cross training is basically training that uses different styles. So, this particularly applies to any of you who compete in events, or in a sport, but I would still encourage it for the “casual” gym goer. It means that rather than just running, or just lifting weights, you mix and match differing styles of training. The idea being that they complement each other, and it helps what you’re trying to achieve in your chosen sport. So, why would that be important or useful? Well strap in, because there a quite a few reasons.

Let’s start with a big one, a reduced risk of injury. Now, there are two parts to this. Firstly, when you’re doing the same thing, using the same muscles, in the same way, the chances of those muscles getting injured increases dramatically. There’s so much pressure on them, and with the amount of training most people do, there’s not a lot of rest and recovery time for them either. Cross training gives you the chance to spread the workload to other muscles, and maybe to work the regular muscles in a different way. Also, you already have other outlets prepared should a dreaded injury occur! Secondly, you’re likely to be working other muscles, so you’ll be strengthening yourself, and the muscles that support the ones you’ll be using most.

Which brings me fairly neatly onto the next reason, your total body fitness. Not only are you going to be strengthening your muscles, but one of the most common complaints I come across is that someone is weak in a certain area. Runners, I’m looking at you. Apart from the tight hamstrings, what’s the other big complaint? No upper body strength. And I wonder why… Maybe it’s because you do no upper body work, and the majority of your training is focused on your lower body. So, really, it’s common sense to train as much of yourself as you can, not just so your whole body operates better, but so you don’t end up with an odd body shape. We probably all know guys with a big chest and arms, but tiny legs. It’s not a great look. And there’s little point in being able to squat 100 kilos, if you get out of breath walking up the stairs, or being able to run 20 miles, if you can’t lift your sofa up to hoover under it! Cover all your bases.

It helps with weight loss. You can train more, so you can get more done. That means more calories burnt. You have other muscles to work, so you can work them whilst the other ones rest. You’re not tiring your muscles out and limiting the amount you can get done. You should also train more of your body, and therefore build more muscle everywhere. That’s going to increase the number of calories you burn at rest. The higher your muscle mass, the more calories you burn, so if you only have a muscular upper body, you might be missing out on all of those calories that come with a muscular lower body too.

And finally, one of the lesser considered benefits, it’s less boring and gives you a more flexible schedule. Some people are ok with it, but most people will get bored out of their minds doing the same things over and over. Cross training would provide them with a bit of variety, keep things fresh, keep them engaged. The key to success, whether it’s weight loss, or sports related, is staying committed. And nothing will turn someone off training like boredom. But it also gives you a flexible schedule. So, the pool is busy, or all the treadmills are taken? Doesn’t matter, you can switch it up, you can postpone that and bring in one of your other workouts, you have fewer excuses to quit.

Cross training would be a benefit to most people, don’t let your training stagnate. There’s a world of exercise out there, you never what you might love, what you might benefit from, what might bring you to the next level. Not if you don’t try it. See you next week.

Dan Miller

Body Fuel Personal Fitness Trainer