The benefits of cross training

I’m linking up with Fitful Focus, The Fit Foodie Mama, Fruition Fitness, and Pretty Little Grub for Wild Workout Wednesday! I am dedicated this Wednesday to the wild, wonderful world of cross training.

I’m not running at all this week thanks to some rebel legs, but I’ve been enjoying my cycling/yoga routine and I think it’s safe to say my body has been as well. 1) It’s nice to break from the treadmill drudgery and 2) I already notice a difference in my muscle tightness/ache levels.

Back in the day (aka college), cross training was my jam. Mostly because I was on the club triathlon team so multi-sport was the name of the game. Sometime between graduating undergrad and beginning grad school, I turned into a one sport kind of gal and started running all the miles. Knock on all the wood ever, I’ve been overall able to avoid any sort of serious injury.

But my terrible, no good, sucky run from last weekend was a major reality check. Too much change in routine, even if it’s good change, can be a shock to the system. My major changes: going from an “up and down” clinical job to a “mostly standing” clinical job AND ramping up my running routine from basically zero. On their own, those changes would have been enough to shake up my body’s equilibrium. Together…clearly led me to burnout. Even if it was physical and not mental (mentally I felt great and was super exciting to be running again!).

So, here I am embracing my original multi-sport roots. You can find me on the spin bike or in the yoga studio all week long, giving my body some much needed TLC.

Some good cross training thoughts:

Time is the essence, coaches agree. Equal the time of how long you would normally run on a recovery day — say 45 minutes — in order to turn these so-called “junk miles” into a productive workout.


Most [overuse injuries] can be blamed on four factors: 1. Inadequate recovery (when your body doesn’t fully recover from one run to the next) 2. Biomechanical irregularities (such as overpronation and leg-length discrepancy) 3. Muscular imbalances caused by running itself (tight hamstrings and weak quadriceps, for example) 4. Improper or worn-out footwear


So how do you break a fitness plateau? The best way is to change things up a bit, called ‘muscle confusion.’ Basically, you surprise your muscles (and that includes the muscles of your cardiopulmonary system too) by switching your workout to put some effort where your body isn’t accustomed to it. That might mean some cardio sprint session for a weightlifter, or a long, steady state swim session for a baseball player, or even a full on powerlifting session for a runner. You’ll be asking your body to respond to some new questions, build fitness where you haven’t asked for them before, and get your metabolism thinking about adaptation again. When you return to your focused workouts back with your main sport, you’ll see that your body is back in adaptation mode, ready to lay down gains again.


“One of the benefits that multi-sport athletes have over runners is that they are able to perform swim and cycling workouts in between run workouts. This helps reduce the stress caused by the pounding of running, but the athlete still receives the aerobic benefit of training. Cross training is good for active recovery which helps speed the recovery process.

“If you use a heart rate monitor you can stay in the same heart rate zone as your run workout. Swimming, cycling, using the stepper, elliptical trainer, or even hiking are all good examples of cross-training workouts.


How much cross training do you include in your typical week?

What’s your favorite cross training activity?

♥ Nicole

12 thoughts on “The benefits of cross training”

  1. Right now I’m only running 3 days a week (down from 4) to allow myself an extra day for additional strength training. I?n a typical week i try to get in 3 good strength training workouts.


  2. Cross training is so key. I don’t think I could just run and do nothng else – it’s important to have variety to work all those muscle groups! Yoga, barre, and spin are my favorites right now.


  3. I’m a huge advocate for cross-training, too. I’m running 4-5 days/week now (26.2 training), and try to also include some strength-training (easy & short) days and other cardio (walking/stair climbing) to keep all of my muscles in action.


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