Fitness, like food, operates on the principle that variety is indeed the spice of life. Getting into one fitness routine can be not only dull, but it can cause you to miss vital muscle groups and get weaker where you really want to be getting stronger. Even the most seasoned athletes need to cross-train on a regular basis.
The reason is that focused activities are rarely good for everything. A runner needs to swim or lift weights. A swimmer may need to do yoga, and a skier might cycle in the off-season. From aerobics to martial arts and dance, many activities can greatly enhance what you as an athlete are doing already.
This is just one of the many things to consider when switching up your fitness routine. If professional athletes cross-train, you probably should too. Wide receivers and basketball guards often take up ballet or martial arts. Runners take up biking or swimming. Many athletes chose yoga or tai chi to develop flexibility.
Here are some tips for changing it up both in and out of the gym.
First of all, why should you cross-train? “Cycling is horrible as an all-around exercise,” says Jacques DeVore in his book Maximum Overload for Cyclists. “Those who cycle need to engage in other physical activities, even though trainers will often tell them the solution is more time in the saddle. This is simply not true.”
This same principle can be applied to other disciplines as well. The benefits of cross-training are clear once you step back and take a look at them:
Most athletes know that cross-training is important. However, they are often so focused on their primary sport that it is difficult to incorporate other routines into their regimen.
Incorporating cross-training into your routine can be a challenge for several reasons. There are some simple keys to success no matter what activity you choose:
Remember to make changes slowly. If you do not like the new activity you have chosen, it is okay to try another one. Your routine should be as flexible as you want to be.
Once you have chosen to introduce a new activity into your routine, how do you choose which one is right for you? This is an important decision, but there are a few simple keys to making the right one:
Remember the learning curve of any new routines and activities, and the time it will take for your body to adjust. You may be sore, and you may need to purchase new attire and equipment. Do your research and be prepared for the associated costs and time/effort you will need to invest as well.
When it comes time to change up your fitness routine and add another sub activity, keep these things in mind. Remember the benefits, make changes slowly and wisely, and choose your cross-training activity carefully.