Cross Train to Stay Injury Free

Women jumping rope
Getty Images/Luis Alvarez

How much do you rely on your routine?  When it comes to things like getting ready in the morning or taking care of daily chores, we need routine, right?  We even need routine to make exercise a regular habit.

But, what happens when you do the same thing every time you exercise?

I know this happens because I see it all the time.  I go to the gym and I get on the elliptical and then I see that guy on the bike and that woman running on the treadmill and oh, there's that guy on the stairmaster.

There we are, doing the same things all the time which may feel comforting, but it leads to a number of problems, including boredom, overuse injuries and weight loss plateaus.

So, what do you do?  It's call Cross Training.

What Is Cross Training

Cross training isn't really a particular activity, it's just a technique that involves using different types of exercise to provide variety, train for sports and/or reduce the risk of repetitive injuries.

It's fine to have your favorite activities.  If you like to run or do yoga or whatever, there's no reason you have to stop doing that.  But, what you don't want to do is run or do yoga every single day.

When you take your body through the same motions day after day, that's when injuries happen.  That's why doing different activities is so important.  Not only do you use your muscles in a different way, which is refreshing for your body, you also keep your mind engaged.

How to Cross Training

Cross training sounds like you have to do something crazy, but you don't.  What you do want to think about are activities that will use your body in a totally different way. 

  • Change Your Impact -  If you usually do no-impact exercises like stationary cycling or swimming, try walking or running to add a little impact to your workouts. If you typically like high impact, high intensity exercise, why not try low impact exercise?  You can still get a great workout and your body will work in a totally different way
  • Try New Activities - Another way to cross-train is to incorporate exercises that are completely different than what you're doing. If you're into cardio, try adding a short yoga routine to the mix. If you're a hard-core lifter, try a little more cardio now and then. Trying something new can get you out of a rut.
  • Try Circuit Training - Circuit training is a great way to mix and match different exercises for a fun, dynamic workout.  For example, you could alternate a cardio activity with a strength activity, as in this Cardio Strength Circuit Challenge.
  • Try Metabolic Conditioning - If you tend to like long, steady state workouts, you can really shake things up with Metabolic Conditioning.  These workouts are short, intense and really help you burn more calories.  Here's a 10-Minute Met Con Workout you can try.
  • Change Your Schedule - Another way to mix things up is to change your schedule.  Try combining your cardio and strength together, for example, or even splitting your workouts throughout the day, instead of doing them all at once.  Even that can make your workouts different enough that you can blast through boredom and plateaus.
  • Try New Equipment - Always use dumbbells?  Try resistance bands to work your muscles in an entirely different way.  Or get a BOSU and try your floor exercises on it.  That a fun and easy way to change things up.

Cross training doesn't have to involve a lot of work...often just one little change here and there can make a big difference.  Try changing a little something every week just to keep things fresh and interesting.

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