Cross training is typically defined as an exercise regime that uses several modes of training to develop a specific component of fitness. A runner, for example, will only utilize certain muscles when running. The hip flexor group and the gluteal group of muscles can get weak causing the pelvis to rotate and continue to affect the body up and down the kinetic chain. The hamstring group and the lower posterior compartment of the leg can get really tight and cause the patella to shift and change the way knee works. Training in different modalities can correct imbalances and help keep the joints of the body working the way they were intended to work. Adding strength, flexibility, mobility, and stability training can help the body work more efficient. Also, it can help an individual adhere to a workout regime, prevent boredom, help to improve body composition, and overall fitness level. By altering the intensity and the mode of each muscle group each day an athlete can train each muscle groups up to several times a week. A runner is susceptible to an overuse injury because running is a very repetitive motion. Cycling or rowing is a great way to challenge your heart rate and increase your cardiovascular endurance or power.
By spreading the cumulative level of orthopedic stress over additional muscles and joints, individuals are able to exercise more frequently and for longer durations without excessively overloading particularly vulnerable areas of the body like the joints. People who are particularly prone to lower-leg problems from running long distances should consider incorporating low-impact activities such as elliptical training, cycling and swimming into their regimens. It should be noted, however, that competitive cross-trainers can experience certain overuse injuries due to inadequate muscle rest, an unbalanced workout schedule, or both.
Cross training can include activities that develop muscular fitness, as well as aerobic conditioning. While an individual’s muscular fitness gains will typically be less than if he or she participated only in strength training, the added benefits of improving muscular strength and endurance can pay substantial dividends. For example, research has shown that resistance training can help individuals prevent injury, control body weight and improve functional capacity.
Research on exercise adherence indicates that many individuals drop out of exercise programs because they become bored or injured. Cross training is a safe and relatively easy way to add variety to an exercise program. In the process, it can play a positive role in promoting long-term exercise adherence by reducing the incidence of injury and eliminating or diminishing the potential for boredom.
The basis of cross training is varying your exercise routine, from day to day or even in the same day, by adding new form of fitness. A runner can use the elliptical trainer, stationary bike, or a Jacob’s ladder during the same workout or alternate between days. Using a runner as an example, on the first day of the workout regime you could have a long run scheduled because that is your focus. Day two could be spent cycling. Day three could include multiple modalities in the same session. Day four could be a run again. Day five could be a small run and a session of rowing. Any combination of these could offer a runner multiple benefits. A runner would benefit from adding other forms of exercise in their week including yoga, resistance training, swimming, and or HIIT training like a Bootcamp.
Source Credit: What is cross training and why is it important?, ACE Fit Life, Jessica Mathews