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