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Week 8: Cross-Training and Cardio

“Cardio” boredom is one of the top reasons (along with exercise related injuries and lack of results) the masses use to throw in the towel on their exercise programs.

Undoubtedly the same ole same ole repetitive motions of “cardio” can become monotonous, or worse, lead to an unwanted overuse injury; either reason can stop a wellness journey in its tracks.  Therefore, in an attempt to save you from the dreaded world of de-conditioning, we’re highlighting the concept of “Cross-Training” and how to add it to your Aerobic Training (aka: “cardio”) to help prolong your training, for life!

What IS Cross-Training?

Cross-Training is a term that has been labeled loosely throughout the fitness industry…it’s often used to describe the workouts featured in many infomercials, DVDs and fitness center classes where multiple forms of exercise are combined (i.e., resistance training exercises along with rapidly performed bodyweight calisthenics) to elicit a relatively high heart rate response.  For example a “cross training instructor” may have you quickly perform overhead squats followed by jumping jacks followed by dumbbell presses followed by jogging in place, then repeat the whole set a few times.

However, for our purposes here in this writing, we will focus on Cross-Training as it relates to our steady state Aerobic Training (where we attempt to reach and maintain a specific, sub maximal heart rate for an extended period of time).

How To Cross-Train

Essentially we will apply Cross-Training to our Aerobic Training in two primary ways, by either rotating between different modes of exercise within a week (e.g., in using outdoor activities, walking vigorously one day and biking another day, both for 30 minutes) or, by doing two or more different modes within one Aerobic Training session (e.g., using the same modes in the previous example, walking vigorously for 15 minutes, and then biking for 15 minutes immediately following). Obviously, as the weather improves, swimming is another mode that can be added to the outdoors. And of course, if you have access to stationary equipment, either in your home or at a fitness center, stair climbers, elliptical riders, upright, recumbent, spin, and airdyne bikes, as well as treadmills and rowers also offer the ability to apply Cross-Training into your routine.

Benefits of Cross-Training

According to the National Strength and Conditioning Association, “the benefit of Cross-Training is that it distributes the physical stress of training to different muscle groups during the different activities and increases the adaptations of the cardio-respiratory and musculoskeletal systems.”*

But there are so many additional benefits associated with Cross-Training, including:

  • Adds variety to your exercise routine (reduces boredom!)

  • Allows you to be flexible and for improvisation with your training

  • Conditions the the body more globally

  • Minimizes the risk of injury

  • Can create an ideal environment for recovery of overworked muscle groups

  • Enables the continuation of training while rehabbing from a specific overuse injury

Cross-Training Bottom Line

Remember, there are two to three days per week of Aerobic Training programmed in our overall BLOCK Training Program. Applying a combo of our two examples of Cross-Training to your Aerobic Training regimen will reduce your risk of overuse injuries, avoid the monotony of the same ole same ole, and prolong the longevity of your overall training for life. In other words, mix it up when you’re doing your “Cardio”😁

P.S. Always warm up properly with any necessary myofascial work (i.e., foam roller) and mobility movements (i.e., legs swings, arm swings, torso circles, etc.) prior to your training.  And just as beneficial, take the time afterwards to stretch.  Prep and recovery work should never be overlooked, and are a valued component of a strategic, safe and sustainable training program...Train for Life!

* Roger W. Earle and Thomas R. Baechle, Essentials of Personal Training–Human Kinetics, p 417; Chicago, IL

Week 8 Quiz:

1) Boredom, along with overuse injuries and lack of results, are top reasons why people quit their exercise programs. a) True b) False 2) Prior to a Cross-Training session you should perform: a) Myofascial work b) Mobility movements c) Both a and b d) None of the above

3) A benefit of Cross-Training is that it allows you to be flexible and for improvisation with your training: a) True b) False

4) An example of Cross Training would be: a) Walk 30 min on Monday and Bike 30 minutes on Wednesday b) On Tuesday, stair climb for 10 min, then the row for 10 min, then ride the elliptical for 10 min c) On Thursday, bike for 12 min, then jog for 12 min, then swim for 12 min d) All of the above

Once you've taken the quiz, click here to see how you did.


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