What is Cross Training?

=> Cross training uses contrasting style of training to improve results

=> Used by athletes and the military it can help reduce injury, and boost physical fitness, performance.

=> It has spread to the gym population as it is an efficient way to boost results improving fitness and reducing body fat.

There’s various ways to do it, three templates are below:

‘Cross Training’ is a term in coaching that really just means an athlete doing a different type of training from the one they normally do, for example a cyclist using weights to get stronger. The reason athletes do it is that it’s a simple way to improve fitness and boost performance.  More recently the term has spread to gym go-ers as they catch on to the fact that mixing up training can give better results than doing the same things week-in week-out.

For most now ‘cross training’ means mixing up their training, doing both cardio and weights,  mixing classes or following branded mixed workouts like CrossFit or Gym Jones. There’s a reason people are doing this: results. The main advantages of cross training are threefold

1) Improve general fitness

Being ‘fit’ doesn’t just mean being able to cycle or run for a long time, ‘fitness’ is being good at a bunch of different types of physical work,  and this means qualities like strength, power, endurance, flexibility and cardiovascular capacity are all important. If you’ve been training one way then you might be good at a few things but you won't have all-round fitness, here cross training helps you work on your weaknesses.

2) Improved resistance to injury

Cross training strengthens less highly trained muscle groups, helping to reduce strength imbalances and also reduce the strain and wear and tear the usual joints are subject to.

3) Improve performance at sports or certain skills

If for example a sprinter just works their running their improvement eventually stalls, but compliment this with strength work and explosive drills like plyometrics, and they develop power and strength that then improve their sprinting further. It’s just the same as a rugby player or cyclist using weights room.

Other advantages

Cross training is a great way to drop fat fast because it hits more of the factors that support lean mass, reduce the fat we’re carrying, and reduce our chances of gaining fat in the future.

In addition being more generally fit means better health as you get to focus on different parts of the physical fitness puzzle - things like cardiovascular fitness and metabolic fitness - without training too much in any one way. As well as all this cross training makes life more varied and fun. So how is it done?

Cross training: three ways to do it

Option One: Be the class junkie

There’s loads of different classes available in most big chain gyms. Training four days a week you could do for example:

Monday: pump type circuit class

Tuesday: Kettlebell class

Thursday: Spin type class

Friday: Yoga or martial  arts

In addition to this you could join a sports team or club in the area. Really the choice is yours, as long as you mix it u

Option Two: Train like a different athlete each day

Taking the best from a variety of contrasting sports, building all round elite fitness

Monday: The Olympic Weightlifter

Here you train snatch, cleans, jerks and front squats with the emphasis on speed and power.

Tuesday: The Martial artist

This session uses circuits to build cardiovascular fitness,total body strength, endurance and conditioning.

Thursday: The Powerlifter

Thursday’s session is all about building raw strength, which is the basis of many  other physical fitness qualities. These sessions are built around the deadlift, squat and bench press. In addition do some abdominal work: crunches, leg raises (here do 3 sets of 10 to 15)

Friday: The Cardio athlete

Complementing the higher intensity stuff, building muscular endurance and also helping the body recover, using running, rowing and cycling for 20 to 30 minute sessions.

Option Three: Mixed workouts

These involve mixing different types of training into each session. The rule of thumb here is that you always start with the heavy and/or fast movements like plyometrics or weight training.

Part One: Strength power and muscle

Choose one upper and lower body weights exercise and alternate sets. For example squats and pull ups or deadlift and bench press

Part two: Circuit: muscle, strength endurance and conditioning

Using a circuit that takes about 10 to 15 minutes, involves all muscle groups and balances pushing and pulling and upper and lower body, cycling through things like lunges, press up, chins, hanging leg raises, kettlebell swings, with minimal rest.

Part three: Cardio

Remembering you’ve already worked the heart and lungs hard in the circuit this is more about part endurance and recovery and uses rowing, running or cycling for moderately hard 10 to 15 minute sessions.

AuthorMultipower training and nutrition expert Drew Price