Cross training is the practice of alternating two or more types of exercise in successive workouts, or performing more than one type of exercise in a single workout.

There is no one perfect exercise—no single activity that develops muscles, decreases fat, strengthens the heart and body, improves cardiovascular fitness, and increases flexibility. To enjoy all of these benefits, you’re going to have to do some sampling from the smörgåsbord of available exercise options. Through cross training, the athlete develops the entire body, not just the parts required for a single sport or activity. Cross training adds variety to the workout and provides an opportunity to continue exercising if injured, by substituting activities that will not stress the injury.

Cross training typically includes activities that fulfill the following goals:

  • muscle endurance -– the ability of a muscle group to perform over a prolonged period of time. Exercises include calisthenics (sit-ups, push-ups, etc.) or low-resistance, high repetition weight training.
  • muscle strength -- measured as the maximum amount of force exerted by a muscle or combination of muscles in a single effort. Exercises include weight training with free weights or machines and isometrics.
  • anaerobic fitness -- the ability to perform short, intense activities that usually last less than a minute, during which the oxygen in the lungs does not have time to reach the muscles; also, performing longer activities that contain intervals of high intensity. Anaerobic exercises increase muscular strength and size, and could include sprinting during any of the exercises listed under aerobic fitness, or jumping rope, tennis, boxing, weightlifting, etc.
  • aerobic fitness -– the ability to perform exercises that last longer and are less intense than anaerobic activities; aerobic activities contribute to cardiovascular fitness, weight loss, and body-shaping. Exercises include running, jogging, water exercises, cross country skiing, rowing, etc.; see cardiovascular training.
  • flexibility -- the ability of a joint to move freely through the entire range of motion. * Helps prevent injuries and improve circulation. Exercises to improve flexibility include yoga and stretching.

Oddly enough, cross trainers are not people who cross train, but the shoes they do it in. . .


Sources: Bryant Stamford, PhD, Cross-Training: Giving Yourself a Whole-Body Workout , The Physician and Sportsmedicine - vol 24 - no. 9 - September 96 , 1/22/03 * …and Beth, my BodyPump instructor at the gym.

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