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Exercise of the Month - September 2008: “Cross training”
We all exercise for different reasons and we all have different goals we work hard to accomplish. Some people want to lose weight, while others want to improve flexibility. Some wish to enhance their bone mineral density, while others wish to improve their cholesterol profile. In the end, it’s all about optimizing our health while minimizing our risk of injury during exercise. One fantastic way to improve fitness levels is a method known as cross training.
I like to refer to cross training as simply performing a variety of activities each week. For example, I like to split my week up amongst the following activities: basketball, strength training, yoga, and cycling. Depending upon the time of year, I’ll do a little each week. This process of performing a variety of activities is referred to as cross training. I cross-train to reduce risk of injuries and engage all major muscle groups.
When exercise enthusiasts perform the exact same activities all the time (i.e. running on the treadmill every day and doing no other forms of exercise), they put themselves at risk for overuse injuries. If you do the same thing all the time, you’re only working specific muscles and putting repetitive stress on the same areas all the time. If someone cycles all the time, they engage the quadriceps (muscles in the front of the upper thigh). If that person does not perform exercises to engage the posterior chain (muscles in the back of the body) such as hip extensions and dead-lifts, they are putting themselves at risk for overuse injuries. Cross-training could help prevent any possible injuries.
Simply put, a program that engages muscular balance throughout the body is the one that yields optimum results and prevents injuries. Your homework assignment is to try varying your exercise program from workout to workout by engaging in different types of activities, or simply add a new form of exercise (e.g., resistance training, Pilates) to your existing workout routine.