Cross training workouts are quite simply workouts that involve more than one kind of exercise and that train your body in different ways. Many people use cross training programs to cycle their aerobic and anaerobic training between various different types of exercise, so for instance they might not go running every Saturday and every Wednesday like many people, but instead go running on the Wednesday, then go power walking on the Saturday, then rowing the next Wednesday, then skipping the next Saturday and generally continue to mix up the training as they go. A cross training workout meanwhile could mean going all this within a single workout – going twenty minutes on three different machines rather than doing just one hour of running.
The Benefits of Cross Training
If you lift weights then you will know that it's really not wise to stick to the same routine for every workout – as this will only cause you to plateau as your muscles stop being challenged by the new workouts, and as you start to find them boring and stop putting in the same kind of effort.
The same then applies to your aerobic exercise like running and skipping – and if you constantly are using the same form of CV training then you aren't going to train the muscles as much as you otherwise would and you aren't going to benefit as much as a result either. By training in new and different ways you'll challenge the body to work in new and unexpected ways too and that will mean more muscle growth and more fat burning. At the same time by doing lots of new and unusual things all the time in the gym you will keep your training fresh from a psychological perspective meaning you won't get bored of doing the same workouts all the time. And in fact you can even reduce your chance of injury by using cross training because you won't be constantly putting stress on the precise same areas and joints. If you run all the time and use no other form of CV then you will be constantly putting impact on your knee joints over and over again and they will start to suffer as a result, whereas constantly rowing can cause pains in your shoulder. By mixing it up, you give certain body parts a break and allow for recovery – again just like doing a split routine in the gym.
Of course cross training isn't for everyone, and if you are a professional athlete who is training to be a cyclist, or a runner, or if you are just entering a marathon, then you need to practice by doing that exercise so that you are training the body specifically in what it needs to be able to do.
Creating Cross Training Workouts
For everyone else I highly recommend cross training workouts, and a situation where no two workouts you do are ever the same. To accomplish this you need to do some research and to find as many different types of CV as you can, but at the same time you need to recognize that what goes on on the treadmill need not necessarily be the same either – you can vary this still by adding or removing the incline, by changing the settings, by changing the speed, by using interval training (mixing fast and slow running in a single workout) and changing the order you do it in (running after a set of pull ups makes a big difference).
Likewise you can look outside of just CV for your cross training, and actually there are many workouts you can do with weights or your bodyweight that will also be useful for burning fat and toning up as long as you are doing high repetitions of a low weight. This way you might even opt to do circuits so that you are for instance doing a series of star jumps, followed by twenty minutes of fast running on an incline, followed by twenty pull ups, followed by some lunge walking, followed cycling for fifteen minutes, followed by three sets of fifty quick press ups, followed by a twenty minute row. Even better is to take this outside and use things in nature for your stations like tree branches for pull ups etc.
Train like this, and you'll find that suddenly doing just an hour session of running really doesn't seem enough of a challenge.