Find out what it is, how it can help and how to get started

Importance of cross training

About cross training

Cross training is defined by Merriam-Webster as engaging in various sports or exercises especially for well-rounded health and muscular development.

Cross training can include:

  • Doing different activities during a single workout—10 minutes jogging, 10 minutes lifting weights and 10 minutes doing yoga
  • Alternating activities throughout the week—swimming one day, lifting weights one day and taking an exercise class one day
  • Playing different sports throughout the seasons—soccer in the spring, football in the fall and basketball in the winter

How cross training can help

Cross training is something that people of all ages and athletic abilities can try—it’s easily scalable to suit those who are just starting out or are experienced exercisers.

For young people, it might seem logical for kids to specialize in one sport and keep practicing until they master that sport. However, specialization among youth can actually be counterproductive. David Epstein, author of The Sports Gene found that until age 12, it’s helpful for kids to sample playing multiple sports—allowing them to maximize athletic potential by finding the right sport.

For all ages, doing the same physical activities can set you up to plateau, get bored or burn out. By doing a variety of physical activities, you’ll keep your body guessing and will get a more complete workout that uses your core, arms, legs and back. Plus, by doing different exercises, you’ll be more likely to stay motivated since it’s not always the same exercise grind.

When you continue to repeat the same activity over and over, you can end up with overuse injuries. A cross-training program can help work to prevent these types of injuries. Additionally, cross training workouts can be the key to rehabilitating from an injury. For example, if you’re recovering from a running-related injury, swimming can be a good alternative to keep your fitness program intact, without continuing to aggravate the injury.

Getting started with cross training

The Y is a great place to maintain a varied fitness program. Change things up with:

  • Regular visits to the Fitness Center, including exercise machines, stretching areas and weights
  • Group Exercise classes that focus on cardio, strength, yoga, water exercise and more
  • Personal Training sessions that include customized guidance from a fitness expert
  • A year-round sports program for kids, including sports like track and field, flag football, basketball and more