Benefits of cross training

Cross training has many benefits, particularly for people who love to stay active. The advantages can be applied and realised through various different training principles.Incorporating cross training into your normal routine increases variety and can allow you to achieve greater training volume, frequency and intensity, with less chance of over training. Focusing on multiple different activities can also decrease injury risk- especially the risk of overuse and repetitive injuries such as muscle and tendon strains and stress fractures. To apply the principle of specificity, cross training should compliment the goals of your normal activities or key sport (if you have a more serious pursuit), but can also be used advantageously to target weaknesses and improve your performance. Swimming, cycling and running are key contenders for targeting cardio-vascular fitness, along with gym exercises such as the cross trainer, stepper and rowing. Water running is another great alternative, offering more specificity to runners, without the impact forces of on-road running.

Pilates and yoga provide a good basis for building strength, controlled movement and flexibility, whilst high intensity cross fit and PT sessions develop speed, power and co-ordination. Regular strength training is beneficial for everyone, if used effectively. Ensure you choose exercises that target muscle strength and movements that are specific to your chosen sport. Functional strength can reduce fatigue and allow you to more easily maintain good form and technique- particularly during running and cycling, where long training or racing efforts create fatigue and in turn, increase injury risk. Focusing on core strength and unilateral exercises such as leg lifts, single leg squats and lunges, provides great functional strength for runners and cyclists, and targeting key muscle groups like glutes, quads, hamstings and calves can be helpful.  Cross training also provides lifestyle benefits because fitting in training around your busy schedule or travel becomes much easier. I really enjoy my own training- and that is by far the most important factor keeping me active Whether you’re looking for an edge against your competitors or to improve your everyday health, incorporate some cross training into your everyday lifestyle.

– By Emily Donker – Pushys sponsored rider

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